Wells Township History

   This township was a part of Warren Township and was set off from the latter and made a separate township in 1823. It derived its name from Bezaleel Wells, a large landowner in early times, and the proprietor of Steubenville. Its surface is diversified, rugged hills, pleasant valleys, elevated tablelands and undulating territory. The streams were not large, Salt Run and Blockhouse Run emptying into the Ohio River, with parts of McIntyre, Rush Run and other minor streams. For ages previous to the advent of the white man, the Indian nations, under various names, had occupied this region. In ancient times there were mound builders here. Mounds were used as burial grounds and many artifacts have been discovered.

   When the first pioneers came to the valley of the Ohio tributaries, they found the country occupied by the representatives of the Six Nations, principally belonging to the Menguie, (the whites called them Mingo). They were very hostile to the whites, but pioneers continued to pour in from eastern states into all parts of the western country. The jealousy of the Indians was great, they concentrated all their power to keep the white man from robbing them of their homes, hunting grounds and graves of their fathers. Every Indian swore his child upon the altar of eternal hatred to the white man. So constant and daring were the attacks upon the frontier settlements that all the force that could be raised could not repel their invasions.

   As early as 1790, the Blockhouse at the mouth of a small stream, called Blockhouse Run, about a mile and a half below La Grange (now in 2008 called Brilliant), was a frontier post for hardy pioneers of the North Western Territory. This area was filled with wild flowers, thick forests and sparkling clear water. It would be impossible to describe the beauty of those rich bottomlands. Trees of every variety, huge giants, that had never been touched by axe or saw. Rich soil never to be exceeded by any in the world.

   It was in September 1792, that Henry Nations and Daniel Scamehorn crossed the Ohio River to locate in the North Western Territory. After landing on the west side, they set out down the river, and about one and one half miles below La Grange (now Brilliant), camped on a small stream called Blockhouse Run. They built a small cabin with portholes that may have been the original blockhouse. They made a small clearing, but their support was by hunting. Unfortunately, they were soon waylaid and killed by the Indians in the spring of 1793.

   During that spring a family named Riley located about 1 1/2 miles west of Brilliant, but they too met the same fate of Nations and his companion. While out making sugar just opposite the present residence of Smiley Johnston (in 1793), the whole family with the exception of the oldest boy were killed. The boy made his way to the Blockhouse and gave the alarm.

   It wasn't until after the Treaty of General Wayne in 1795, that any permanent settlement was effected. Thomas Taylor came from Pennsylvania in 1778 and located on Section 30.

   Henry Oliver and Ebenezer Spriggs came also in 1778, and located near Taylor. The Tarr family came quite early, and also the Johnsons, Armstrongs, Roberts, Carsons, Daughertys, Millhollands, Dawsons, Grahams and others are among pioneers of Wells Township, all coming before 1810. John Barrett came about 1800 and was the first Justice of the Peace.

Information taken from "A History of Belmont and Jefferson Counties, Ohio" by B. J. Caldwell and "History of Steubenville and Jefferson County" by Joseph B. Doyle, 1910

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