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Colonel Schlatter's southern Pennsylvania route through Wells Valley, Fulton County Pennsylvania
"Map exhibiting that portion of the State of Pennsylvania traversed by the surveys for a continuous rail road from Harrisburg to Pittsburg made under the direction of Charles L. Schlatter, c.e. in the year 1839 and 1840. Drawn by Charles Cramer."
With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches
of some of its
PIONEERS AND PROMINENT MEN.
Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co.,1884
Organization in 1849 - Change of Name in 1850 - Wells, the Hunter and Pioneer
Settler - Alexander Alexander, 1772 - Flight of the Family to Escape
- Incidents and Adventures - Mills and Other Industries - Wells Tannery -
Schools, Churches and Odd-Fellows - Taxables in 1850.
AUGHWICK township, Bedford county, was organized September 1, 1840. By act of
the legislature, the name was changed to Wells, April 2, 1850. In the
the township became a part of the new county of Fulton.
Wells' valley,* which includes nearly all of the township, derives its name
from its first settler - a man named Wells, who came from Baltimore
He built his cabin at the head of the valley on the farm since known as
"Wishart's upper place," and here he was accustomed to spend the autumn and
winter months, devoting himself to hunting, but returning to his native place
every spring. How many seasons he hunted here is not known; but in the year
1778 he was residing near the Allegheny mountains, where he had quite extensive
Alexander Alexander, a Scotch-Irishman, familiarly known as "Double
believed to have been the first permanent settler in the valley. He emigrated
to America in 1763 and settled near Greencastle, Pennsylvania, whence
to Wells' valley in 1772. He experienced the usual hardships of pioneers. His
nearest neighbor, Jacob McClain, lived four miles distant, on Wooden Bridge
creek, a short distance above Woodcock's mill. Alexander was obliged to go to
McClain's to borrow coals to kindle his fire when he was unlucky enough to let
it go out. He went to the vicinity of Fort Lyttleton for milling, to Fort
Loudon for salt and groceries, and to Carlisle for drygoods. Alexander
Alexander was a leader among the Presbyterians and was an elder of the "Great
Cove congregation," the first church organized in the county. In the fall of
1777, with his wife and four children, he was driven from his home by the
Indians, and sought shelter and safety among the inhabitants of the Great Cove,
but the following spring he returned to his plantation.
In the early autumn, 1778, a party of hunters, twenty or thirty in number,
came from the vicinity of Baltimore and made Alexander's house their
headquarters while enjoying the sport which the woods afforded. But a party of
Indians, coming over from Ray's cove, caused their hunting operations to cease
suddenly, and to escape their wily foe they hastened homeward. Alexander and
his family again fled and went to the Conococheague settlement, where they
remained until the close of the revolution. The
* The greater portion of this chapter is taken from "Reminiscences of Wells
Valley," a series of historical sketches written by W. Scott Alexander, and
published in the Fulton Democrat in 1870.
family then returned to their forest home, and Mr. Alexander erected a
(now a part of the dwelling owned by his great-grandson, Harvey Wishart). He
died November 8, 1815.
About the year 1785 emigration began to fill the valley with settlers. The
families of William Hardin, William Wright and Giles Stevens became permanent
settlers. The quality of the land became known and this led to rapid
settlement. By the close of the eighteenth century no less than
had made their homes in Wells' valley. Among the pioneer families
were those of
Bancroft Woodcock, John Osborne, John Moore, William Ports, Hethcote Picket,
Josephus Murray, Samuel Danner, John Giles, William Piniard, ---
Edwards, John Crocker and others. Drs. Wishart and Moulton, the first
practicing physicians in the valley, were great acquisitions to the settlement,
and their services were duly appreciated.
A man named Dillan erected a tubmill at New Grenada, afterward known as
"Tubmill Gap," at an early date. In 1797 Bancroft Davis built a
larger and more
Martin Giles was the only man drafted from the valley for the war of
health was greatly injured in the service. About this time Jared Osborne built
a powdermill, which was afterward operated by Alexander Ready. Ready
Lewis, the noted robber,* frequented the valley between 1820 and 1825, having
his haunts along Sideling Hill. He was once captured by the citizens of the
valley and brought before 'Squire Alexander. He was sent to jail, but escaped
from his guard before he reached Bedford.
In 1865 the oil excitement pervaded New Grenada and vicinity.
begun and large expenses incurred, all of which resulted in failure.
The people of Wells' valley have always evinced a commendable interest in
educational matters, and today the schools of the township rank among the best
in the county. A building for a graded school was erected in district
No. 1, in
1858, at a cost of seven hundred and fifty dollars. This building is known as
the Fulton Institute. The district not being large enough to support two
schools, the two grades became one after three or four years. Select schools
and literary societies have been held in the township at various times
Wells' tannery was erected by Lyon and Patterson in 1855. The main building,
43 1/2 x 118 feet, was supplied with the necessary fixtures of a steam tannery,
and for several years a prosperous business was conducted. A store was kept by
the proprietors of the tannery. In 1869 the store and its contents were
destroyed by fire, and in the spring of 1870 the tannery also burned. It was
rebuilt by Lyon & McClure the same year. In 1872 J. G. Lyon and J. M. McClure
sold out to Chatfield, Underwood & Co., of New York city. The former
tanned only sole leather, and had a capacity for seven thousand hides
The new firm began to make leather for belting. In 1879 C. H. Chatfield became
the sole owner and made great improvements. At present the tannery is
its capacity, twelve thousand hides annually. About twenty men are employed.
Three thousand cords of bark are used each year. John W. Blackhart became
superintendent in 1872, and still holds the position.
The following is a copy of the list of resident propertyholders of Aughwick
(now Wells) township for the year 1850, taken from the assessment rolls on file
in Bedford county:
William Alexander's heirs
John B. Alexander, Esq.
S. P. Anderson
John Bivens, blacksmith
Charles Barton, carpenter
John E. Cunningham, blacksmith
John W. Durant
William Edwards, carpenter
John Foot, shoemaker
William Fisher, mason
John Gibson, weaver
Samuel Hockenberry, miller
John S. Houk
Thomas P. Horton, blacksmith
Dr. James Moore
Joseph Richardson, carpenter
David C. Ross, tanner
John K. Ready
Alexander Ready's heirs
James Ramsey, wagonmaker
George Stewart, merchant
James Stunkard's heirs
George W. B. Sipes, postmaster
Zechael White, shoemaker
John Woodcock, tanner
N. W. Horton, son of Henry and Elizabeth Horton, was born in Huntingdon
county, Pennsylvania, in 1815. In 1855 Henry Horton came
[Autobiography, Daring Deeds and Adventures of Lewis the Robber -
to Fulton county and purchased the Giles farm, where he resided until his
decease in 1865, aged seventy-six years. N. W. Horton came to Fulton county in
1860 and purchased the Alexander Ready farm, where he still resides. He is the
father of five children, now living. His eldest son, Samuel M., is a
the United States army and is now stationed at Fort Douglas, near Salt Lake
City, Utah Territory. The other children are Mariah (Mrs. Dr. H. S. Wishart),
Catharine (Mrs. W. H. Marklay, Laura C. (Mrs. T. S. Dickson), Edwin A., married
to Miss Sioux Glover. Mr. N. W. Horton is an elder in the Presbyterian church.
S. F. Geisinger, son of Adam and Eve, was born in York county, Pennsylvania,
in 1823. His father died in 1833, aged fifty-three, and in 1842 he and his
mother settled in Huntingdon county, where she died in 1859 at the age of
seventy-six years. In 1869 S. F. Geisinger moved to Fulton, having
farm in 1858, near new Grenada, where he now resides. He first purchased one
hundred and twenty acres and has since added four hundred. He has a circular-
saw mill and a good store property. In 1843 was married to Mary, daughter of
James and Margaret McNeil. They are the parents of nine children. He has
followed mercantile business five years and milling six years. The family are
of German descent. John W., son of John and Phoebe Blackheart, was born in
Bedford county, Pennsylvania, in 1847. John died in 1850, and Phoebe in 1876,
aged sixty years. John W. enlisted when seventeen years of age in the 2d Penn.
Cav. He participated in the battles of Bunker Hill, Darksville, Maryland
Heights, Winchester, and some nine or ten others of greater or lesser
He received an honorable discharge at the mustering out of the troops. For
three years he engaged in the tanning business in Maryland, and then came to
Fulton county and engaged with the Wells tannery. For the past eight years has
filled the position of superintendent of the tannery for C. H.
Chatfield, of New
York. Only two of the Blackheart family now live in this county -
John W. and a
sister, Eliza, the widow of J. G. Foster.
W. H. Baumgardner, son of William and Mary A., was born in Havice valley,
Mifflin county, Pennsylvania, in 1854. Came to Fulton county in 1880, and
engaged in the mercantile business, he having purchased the old stand of C. H.
Chatfield, where he runs a general store. He is building a new store, 45 x 23,
with dwelling attached. In 1879 was married to Mollie M. Johnson, of
county, Pennsylvania. She is a daughter of Irvin and Christina Johnson. He is
an enterprising business man. A. S. Edwards, son of Joshua and Elizabeth
Edwards, was born where he now resides, in 1849. His great-grandfather John
came from England in 1770, and soon after settled in Bedford county,
Pennsylvania. Joseph, one of the children of John, died, leaving a family of
six children. One of these children, Joshua, died in 1871, aged sixty-seven
years. He left thirteen children, the offspring of two marriages.
Three of his
sons were in the United States army, viz., G. W., Jehu and Arnon G. the latter
was in the 26th Penn. Regt., and died from the result of a wound
received in the
battle of Antietam. John was wounded in front of Petersburg. Several of the
boys were graduates of normal schools and followed teaching. A. S. Edwards is
one of the fourth generation who resided on the farm settled by his ancestors.
John R. Foster, son of Septemus and Elizabeth Foster, was born in
Broad Top in
1849. John R. came to Fulton county with his parents about 1860; they
a tract of land where he still resides; John R. lives on a part of his father's
farm. He was married in 1870, to Mary F. Edwards, daughter of George W. and
Alice Edwards. George W. Edwards now resides in California and follows
Jehu G. D. Cunningham, son of Joseph and Sarah, was born in Juniata county,
Pennsylvania, in 1828. His uncle, John E. Cunningham, came to New Grenada,
Fulton county, about 1845, where he followed blacksmithing some twelve years,
during which time John G. learned blacksmithing with him, and has since carried
on blacksmithing in this place, with the exception of three years. After a
residence of two years in Fulton county, moved to Texas, where his mother died
in 1865, and his father in 1866. Jehu G.'s brother, Joseph, was in the army
three years and was honorably discharged. Jehu's son, W. S. F., graduated at
Shippensburg college and is now teaching in Kansas.
John S. Houck, was born in Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania, October, 1811. He
received an education in the common schools. He taught common schools
music during the winter months from 1831 to 1850. In 1840
he married Miss Henrietta Yocum, born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, 1818. In
1845 he moved to a farm of one hundred acres, purchased in 1844, in Wells'
valley, Bedford county. In 1850 he purchased one hundred and fifty acres. He
died in 1857, his wife surviving him until December, 1875. Their children were
W. McKenzie, J. Marshall, S. John, V. Sarah, E. Malinda, C. Rosswell, C.
Milford, J. Emory. John S. died at the age of six years. In 1858 W. McKenzie
apprenticed himself to the manufacture of tinware and served thirty-one months,
when he and his brother, J. Marshall, enlisted in Capt. H. S. Wishart's company
of Fulton riflemen. This company, not being accepted by the government, he
enlisted in Co. F, 77th regt. Penn. Vols., for three years, or during the war.
He served with credit, and participated in the battles of Shiloh, Murfreesboro,
Chicamauga, Franklin, Nashville, to the numerous battles fought by Gen. Sherman
while marching through Georgia. He was wounded in the battle of Chickamauga,
Tennessee, September 19, 1863. Was honorably discharged at the expiration of
term of service. He returned home to his mother, in Wells' valley, Fulton
county, Pennsylvania, and engaged in the manufacture of tinware, also in the
hardware and agricultural implement business.
Marshall J., on his return from three-months service, enlisted in Co. F, 2d
Penn. Reserves, for three years or during the war, and participated in all the
battles fought on the Potomac, up to May 10, 1864, when he was wounded in the
left arm so severely as to render its amputation necessary.
Odd-Fellows. - Wells' Valley Lodge, No. 607, I.O.O.F., was organized
In 1870 the lodge erected a three-story frame building, 30 x 36 feet, in the
upper story of which their meetings are held. The lodge is prosperous, with a
Presbyterian. - The Presbyterian church of Wells' valley, consisting chiefly
of the descendants of Alexander Alexander, was never formally organized. It
has always formed a part of the McConnellsburg charge. At the
beginning of Rev.
N. G. White's pastorate, 1834-1864, a church-building was standing, but
unfinished. Rough benches without backs served as seats. At a later period it
was finished, weatherboarded and painted.
John Alexander, son of Alexander Alexander, was chosen elder of the Wells'
Valley church and served with zeal until his death, in 1840. He was a noble
Christian, gifted with such a remarkable memory that it is said he could repeat
verbatim nearly all of the New Testament, and more than half of the Old.
The present membership in Wells' valley is forty-five. For a list of pastors
see history of the McConnellsburg church.
Methodist Episcopal. - Among the settlers who came into Wells' valley about
1790 were several families of Methodists. They probably had stated worship at
private houses long before a church edifice was built, and it is
believed that a
class was formed before 1800. In 1818 they built a meeting-house, the first in
Wells' valley, a simple log structure. In 1828 it was torn down and its place
supplied by a new and more commodious edifice, which was built under the
leadership of Joseph Woodcock.
Joseph Edwards, Samuel Willett and Nathan Green were among the earliest
members of the Methodist church, and were chief builders of the first meeting-
house. The church now has fifty-five members and the Sabbath school seventy.
Pine Grove Methodist Episcopal church, near Wells' tannery, was organized by
Rev. George W. Bouse, in 1870. George W. White was the first class-leader. In
1881 a house of worship was erected at a cost of two thousand dollars. The
church has forty-one members and the Sabbath school one hundred and eighteen
Church of God. - This church was organized at New Grenada by Rev. Jacob
Lininger about 1847. David Hoover was elected elder and J. E. Cunningham,
deacon. Worship was held in dwellings and schoolhouses until 1861, when a
church-building was erected. No list of pastors can be given.
United Brethren. - The church of this denomination was organized in 1850,
during the pastorate of Rev. R. G. Rankin. Samuel Willett was chosen class-
leader, and George Lockard, Sr., steward. A house of worship was erected in
Baptist. - the Baptist congregation was organized June 24, 1861, during the
ministerial labors of Rev. Joseph Correll, with a small membership. There had
been occasional preaching by ministers of this denomination for several years
prior to the formation of a society.
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