Bezaleel Wells


BEZALEEL WELLS, who, together with James Ross, a prominent lawyer and ex-congressman, of Pittsburgh, Penn., formerly owned the land upon which the city of Steubenville is built, and who, together with Mr. Ross, laid out this city, was born in Baltimore county, Md., about the year 1769. He was the son of Alexander Wells, who, in the year 1773, removed from Baltimore county to that part of Augusta county, Va., which has since been incorporated in Washington county, Penn. The house he erected there was transferred, and consequently, is the first frame residence erected within that county. He afterward removed to Wellsburgh, W. Va., where he died in 1813. By occupation he was a farmer and miller, and he also possessed a knowledge of civil engineering, having done much government surveying in both Maryland and Pennsylvania. His wife survived him one or two years, and died in Steubenville, at the home of her son, Bezaleel, whose name precedes this paragraph. The latter did not accompany his father westward in 1773, but tarried at the home of an uncle in Baltimore county until he was thirteen years old. He then joined his parents in their western home, and accompanied them to Wellsburg, which place was his home for many years. He was twice married, his first wife being Rebecca Reasteau, to whom he was married in Baltimore county, Md., and his second wife being Sarah Griffith, to whom he was married in Wellsburg, W. Va. He entered from the government the land upon which all that part of Steubenville is located south of North street, and much other land adjacent thereto. In 1797 he, in connection with Mr. Ross, laid out the town, the first sale of lots being made on the 25th day of August. Mr. Wells removed from Wellsburg to Steubenville in 1800, and from that year until 1830 he occupied the old Stokely residence, near the river, which house he has erected. He afterwards resided on High street two years, and in 1832 removed to the old Wells homestead on the hill west of the city, where he spent the remainder of his life. He purchased considerable land adjoining Steubenville, and at one time owned 1,000 acres in one tract. Bezaleel Wells laid out the town of Canton, Ohio, in 1804. It was he, who, in connection with William R. Dickinson, introduced the Merino sheep west of the Allegheny mountains. He was a member of the Episcopal church, and in politics was first a federalist, and later a whig. He was a member of the first conventional convention of the state of Ohio, in 1802. By his first wife he had two children, both of whom died in childhood. By his second wife he became the father of six sons and five daughters: Catharine W., Rebecca R., James R., Samuel O., Alexander, Bezaleel, Hezekiah G., Francis A., Ann C., Sarah G. and Mary, of whom the only survivor is Francis A. Wells. The mother died in January, 1839, and the father survived her until August 11, 1846. Francis A. Wells, above named, was born in the Stokely homestead, near Steubenville, September 4, 1813, and in that city his life has been spent with the exception of four years in Kalamazoo county, Mich. His occupation has been that of a woolen manufacturer and gardener. He was married May 20, 1840, to Jane C. Boggs, who bore to him five children: Sarah G., John B., Bezaleel, Agnes L. and Frank C., of whom Bezaleel died, aged nine years. Mrs. Wells died March 31, 1882. He occupies the Wells homestead, where he is spending his declining years in quiet. He is a member of the Episcopal church, and in politics a republican.

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