Newsletter #31???????????? ?????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????????????January 2003


Aaron Wells and Ruth Wiggins were married 31 July (bond), 3 August (ministerís return), 1790. Children: Nathan, Elizabeth A., Rachel E., Drucilla & Ruama, Sarah ďSally?W., Nancy, William W., Robert, John W., Ruth, Aaron, Mary ďPolly? Daniel & Uriah.?




Wells Family Reunion

Sunday, July 20, 2003

11:00 a.m.?:00 p.m.


North Central 4-H Center

Carlisle, Kentucky


Genealogist/Founder????? President??????????????? Secretary/Treasurer?????? Newsletter Editor

Lucy Thompson ?????????Jon Hagee?????????????? Betty Jo Wells???????????Patricia Roane Straube????

1917-1991??????????????? 3021 Stanford Dr. ????????R. R. 2, Box 215?????????? 131 Robinhood Dr.

????????????????????????Lexington, KY?40517????? Mt. Olivet, KY?41064?????San Francisco, CA 94127??

????????(859) 271-2918??????????? (606) 724-5696??????????? (415) 334-6300




Message from the President

Wells Family DNA Project Results In!


Dear Wells Cousins,




Thank you for your participation in the Wells Family DNA Project. We have had some incredible breakthroughs due to your contributions. Patricia will go into more detail, but essentially we have proof of links to more than one established family in the late 1700's. There is still a lot of work to do, however, because the exact relationships still remain unknown.




Let me explain how this works. There is more than one type of DNA testing that can be used. The one that

worked out best for the Wells surname relationship study examines what is passed from father to son., so only males carrying the Wells surname were eligible The rest of us may get a chance to participate in a future phase of this study.


Imagine DNA as being a comprehensive and detailed instruction manual for assembling parts of the human body and assigning duties to these parts.? Each generation potentially passes copying mistakes in the DNA code Sometimes it is essential and causes severe problems. Sometimes it is minor and may go unnoticed. In any case (fortunately for us!), changes can be detected and documented from generation to generation. After many years of work, scientific methods have just reached the point where determination can be made whether or not people are close or distant relatives (or for all practical purposes not related).


In any case, we now have eliminated some known Wells families as well as have indications that certain families are closely related. That's the good news. We have been communicating with these families and sharing research. Please contact me or Patricia if you want to share in that. These are very exciting times to be living in for a genealogist. Combining Internet communications and the DNA breakthroughs, we are making leaps that were near impossible in the past.


The bad news is that each of these families seems to have the same problem that we have. That is, each of their founding fathers seems to have come out of nowhere. We know a lot about these men and their families in the years following, but their origins are a mystery.


There is a lot of work and research left to do, but there are more leads to follow than we have had for several years. Although we know we are related to these new families, we don't know how. DNA studies offer very definite kinship proof, but do not show an actual relationship. We are looking forward to future Wells studies that may tie us in to European Wells families. Maybe one of them has a long-lost missing Aaron that we just might know where he is!?And we have not seen the end to the DNA goldmine. DNA research is relatively new and new discoveries are being made all the time. You can find more information at the Wells Family Special DNA Project at:



Aaron Wells Y Chromosome DNA Signature





I am continuing my studies of the 18th century pioneers, both through book learning as well as by practicing the skills and experiences of the frontier Kentucky family. Subjects include colonial/frontier currency, culture, animal tracking, clothing and food. I recently completed a snowy (3 inches) weekend in a wilderness area in Indiana. We had a great time and learned a lot about traveling and keeping warm using 18th century clothing and equipment! You can visit my Kentucky Trekking web page at:




I have been doing some fieldwork the past few months. Of interest is locating the Collins family graveyard in Nicholas County. Directly across the Licking River is the Aaron Wells plantation in Robertson County. Located at this site are graves of two of Edmond Collins' sons. These two flank him in the 1850 census records. Older stones may belong to Edmond and wife Sarah Kenton. Several of Edmond's daughters married Aaron's sons. Edmond's wife was the daughter of Revolutionary Soldier Mark Kenton, Jr. who was Simon Kenton's older brother. I will be reporting on this property/cemetery find in a future newsletter issue.


As I wrap this up, I look out my window and see results of the Great Ice Storm of 2003. Our house and Lexington, Kentucky were hit hard. But, we have seen the town and neighborhood pull together, much as they did in Aaron and Ruth Wells' time. Our thoughts and prayers are with any of you that have had a rough year. Let us know how you are doing.


Your Cousin,



Treasurerís Report


Dear Cousins,


We once again wish you a Happy New Year. We had a rather cold January here in Kentucky ? very invigorating.


Thanks to those of you who have remembered to send donations to the Aaron Wells Family Association. As of now our bank balance is $781.19. We will owe for the Newsletter from this balance.


Please be thinking of our annual reunion the third Sunday in July and try to make plans to attend


Respectfully submitted,

Betty Jo Wells



Letter from the Editor


The newsletter was delayed until February due to the late-breaking developments in the Wells Family DNA Project. Thanks for your patience. Also thanks to all of you who have contributed items and information: Donald Claypool, Brenda Derr, Connie Hazletine, and Orin Wells of the Wells Family Research Association.?


Please remember to send your news, updates, pictures, change of address and other items of family or historical interest to me at:


Newsletter Editor

131 Robinhood Drive

San Francisco, CA?94127-1626



You can visit our updated four-generation database at RootsWeb:


And the Aaron and Ruth (Wiggins) Wells Family Association?web page:



Patricia Roane Straube

Newsletter Editor





One of the questions some of you may be asking is, "Is Aaron the son of Richard Wells and Nancy Brown as printed in The Families of Southeastern Kentucky??span style="mso-spacerun: yes">?The answer is, "No!" Aaron differs by 18 markers from the so-called? ďLittle Wells?which is Richardís family. Nor does he match any other of those old established colonial families of Maryland. However, as Jon has already mentioned, he does match several other families whose origins seem to be as mysterious as our own. A difference of fewer than four markers is generally thought to be evidence of relationship. None of these families differs by more than one and several are identical. The current estimate is that the rate of change on the male Y chromosome appears to be once every 20 to 25 generations. But, by definition, a random mutation can happen at any time. The fact that several of these are identical to Aaron does not mean that they are brothers. They may not even have personally known each other. What it proves is that they have a common paternal ancestor.?But exactly how far back in time can't be known. Now let me introduce you to our new relations:?




The surprise is not that Robert Wells turned out to be a kinsman, since his and Aaron's families interacted, but that in all five samples from his descendants, a marker varied by one at the same point. Either Robert himself was the source of the mutation or he is a bit more distantly related than previously thought.


Robert Wells was born about 1753 and died about 1837 in Tate Township, Clermont County, Ohio. He married Mary Downing, 5 January 1778, in Washington County, Maryland.?Our Aaron was probably the Aaron Wells who witnessed the marriage of Ann Wells, Robert's daughter, and James Callon in Mason County, Kentucky in 1798 since Ann's brother Aaron was only about 12 years old at the time. Lucy Thompson discovered that our Aaron, Robert, and James Callon all owned land adjoining each other in Mason County before they sold out when Aaron moved to Nicholas County, Kentucky and Robert with his son-in-law and other children moved to Clermont County, Ohio. Besides daughter Ann, Robert had children: Solomon, Isaac, Aaron, John D., Robert, Jesse, Nathan, Mary D. and Eli.


Robert's son, John D. Wells, born about 1786 in Pennsylvania, married Rachel E. Wells, Aaron's daughter. They lived in Williamsburgh Township, Clermont County, Ohio. James and Ann (Wells) Callon's son, William, married Aaron's daughter Ruth.?They moved to Marion County, Indiana. [These are the Editor's ancestors.]?John D. and Rachel E. (Wells) Wells were probably the parents of Dudley H. Wells who married Ruth Ann, daughter of Nathan Wells and Jane Guffin, as well as John D. Wells (Jr.) who married Martha Ward, daughter of Andrew Ward and Nancy Wells, and Elizabeth Mitchell, daughter of William Mitchell and Drucilla Wells. Now that Robertís DNA profile is known, this theory can be tested.




One who was an exact match was Zachariah Wells of Lee County, Virginia. However, If you look at any database referring to him on?the Internet, you will find them a real "mess". That's because so few records exist and like Aaron and Robert, he had been mistakenly called a son of Richard Wells and Nancy Brown. He has also been confused with another Zachariah Wells who received a Revolutionary War Pension in Tennessee, as well as with his own son, Zachariah Wells Jr. A newspaper article written in 1927, based on an interview with a descendant, reported that he was born about 1750 in Virginia and married Abigail Osborne there in about 1770. The article also stated that he moved away from home after a dispute with his brother, Robert. Some have identified him as the same Zachariah Wells who appears in the records of Fincastle and Botetourt Counties in Virginia and in the records of Wilkes County, North Carolina; however the first definite record is when, on 3 May 1799, he bought 900 acres on both sides of the Powell River in Lee County, Virginia, paying $1000. The last reference to Zachariah Wells Sr. is in a deed dated 1 March 1827. Some give him as many as twelve children: Thomas, Nancy, Zachariah Jr.,?William, Robert, Jemima, Elizabeth, Abigail, Jacob, John, Jeremiah and Joseph.?




Augustine Wells, another exact match, was said to have been born 19 March 1760 in either Maryland or Virginia and to have died 10 September 1838 in Monongalia County, Virginia (now West Virginia). His wife was Lucy Doolittle, daughter of Moses Doolittle. Augustine and Lucy may have married in Fayette County, Pennsylvania since Moses Doolittle was known to have lived there. Augustine Wells is represented by only one sample of DNA taken from a descendant of his son, Moses Doolittle Wells. He is also thought to have had sons, Augustine Jr. and Thomas, as well as several daughters.?He was said to have been the son of Robert and Nancy Wells but with no further information given.




Besides the mysterious Robert, Zachariah, and Augustine Wells, there are equally mysterious men born in the early to mid 1800's who have been "brick walls" to their descendants. A couple of them have participated in the Wells DNA Project and have matched. There will undoubtedly be more.?




George W. Wells Jr. was born 2 July 1866 in Indiana. He married Mary Ellen Gaither, probably in Kansas. He died in 1935 in Oklahoma. The one descendant tested has differed in only one marker, but at a different point than Robert Wells. In conducting research on his behalf, it appears that he is a descendant of John Wells Jr. and Elizabeth Graham who married 3 March 1839 in Jefferson County, Indiana. This John Wells is said to be the son of John Boyd Wells and Margaret Hawkins.?John Boyd Wells was born about 1770 and died in April 1844 in Jefferson County.?The family appears to have traveled from western Maryland to western Pennsylvania to Kentucky to Ohio, finally settling in Indiana in 1819. John Boyd Wells' son, Levi, was married in Clermont County, Ohio in 1815.




Isaac Kindred Wells, an exact match, was born 14 July 1830 in Jefferson County, Tennessee. He married Mary Ellen Eastin 27 February 1853 in Coles County, Illinois. He died 7 April 1903 in Indianola, Oklahoma Territory. His father's name is still unknown but it was said that he was born in Georgia. With the help of Don Claypool in Illinois, we are actively researching his family. There appears to be a set of tantalizing coincidences possibly linking him to Andrew Wells who was born 16 May 1765 and died 17 February 1834 in Sevier County, Tennessee (adjacent to Jefferson County). Andrew stated in his Revolutionary War Pension Application that he was born in Conococheague Manor in what is now Washington County, Maryland. He served from South Carolina but lived for a time in Wilkes County, Georgia. His parents were said to be Robert and Esther Wells.?Again, there is no definite information about them other than names.


The research on these last two is still in its preliminary stages, not at all proven and with much more work to be done.?We will be keeping?you updated on all the significant findings concerning the newfound kinsmen of Aaron Wells, including Robert, Zachariah, Augustine and any others,? in coming issues of the newsletter.


Lineage Links


Children of Aaron Wells and Ruth Wiggins


Robert Wells


One of the recurring themes in many of these newfound families is the name Robert. Aaron and Ruthís third-born son, Robert, was born 20 June 1802 according to Wells Family Bible records. He married Isabella Thomas, daughter of Edward Thomas, 26 February 1827 in Nicholas County, Kentucky. Nicholas County Deed Book P, page 35, dated March 1845, lists the Wells heirs to settle the estate of Aaron Wells. Robert Wells was living in Marion County, Indiana. He had moved there sometime prior to 1840 as he and his family is enumerated in the 1840 Census in Lawrence Township. This is where his sister, Ruth, and her husband, William Callon, had moved as had William's uncles; Solomon, Aaron, Isaac, Nathan and Eli Wells, sons of Robert Wells of Clermont County, Ohio.? A great deal of what is known about his life comes from a biography in B. R.?Sulgrove's History of Indianapolis and Marion County Indiana, Philadelphia: L. H. Everts & Co., 1884, pp. 545-546.


Robert Wells was born in Mason Co., Ky. in 1804. Emigrated with wife and son Aaron to this township [Lawrence] about 1827, and bought the fractional quarter section now owned by James Newton Reddick, where he lived for twenty or twenty-five years. He then sold the farm to Robert Walpole and went to Stringtown, Ind., where he lived for two years, thence moved to the Twelve-mile Prairie, thence to Anderson, and since the War of 1861-65 went to Illinois where he died about 1875. His wife died when he lived on the Twelve-mile Prairie. He was a farmer while he lived here, but subsequently became a shoemaker and a dealer in harness and saddlery. He and his wife were both members of the United Brethren Church, and they died in that faith. For four or five years that denomination held preaching at his house. He took a great interest in improving the public highways, in advancing the cause of education, and, in fact, in all laudable public enterprises. He was regarded by all who knew him as a model gentleman, and by his emigration the township lost one of its best citizens. He had six children when he left here. His son Aaron lives in Illinois.


The next clue comes from Robertson County, Kentucky Deed Book 2, Page, 160, This agreement is made and entered into 19th day of January 1874, by and between James H. Wells for himself, Edward T. Wells, Aaron Wells and Nancy Rice [sic] by virtue of power of attorney of him and himself James H. Wells, executor, on 13th day of January 1874 of the County Vermillion, of the State of Illinois of the first part land formerly owned by Aaron Wells, deceased, signed by Uriah Wells.


Following up on the clue of Vermilion County, Illinois,?in the 1870 Census of Carroll Township, Robert Wells is living with James H. Wells and his family. In H. W. Beckwith's History of Vermilion County, Illinois, Chicago: H. H. Hill & Co., 1879, pp. 419-420 is the following biography


James H. Wells, Danville, was born near Indianapolis, Indiana, on the 28th of March, 1836, and is the son of Robert and Emily Wells, of Nicholas county, Kentucky. Mr. Wells was raised on the farm until he was about fourteen years of age; he then went to Indianapolis and commenced to learn the trade of a harness-maker, which business he followed principally ever since. From Indianapolis Mr. Wells went to Kokomo, Indiana, and in 1857 he came to Illinois and located in Danville, Vermilion county. From Danville he went to Indianola, Vermilion county, where he remained about ten years. While a resident of Indianola Mr. Wells enlisted in Co. E, 150th Ill. Vol. Inf., on the 14th of February, 1865, as first lieutenant. The 150th was organized at Camp Butler on the 14th of February, 1865, for one yearís service. A full sketch of the movements of this regiment appears in the War History of this volume. Mr. Wells resigned and came home in July, 1865. In 1875 he returned to Danville and was engaged as traveling salesman for D. K. Woodbury in the harness business for one year. He then went to Marysville, Vermilion county, and remained there until August, 1878, when he came back to Danville and entered Messrs. Good & Cowanís saddlery and harness establishment. Mr. Wells held the office of township clerk in Carroll township of this county. He was married in Peru, Indiana, to Miss Rebecca E. Kimble. They have had seven children, of whom two are deceased.


However, the three other children still living at the time of the 1874 deed were not in Vermilion County. Where were they? The CD version of the 1880 Census has an index that can be searched by name, age, race, and place of birth. There was only one Aaron Wells who fit the description of Robertís son and he was living, not in Illinois, but in Knox County, Missouri with his wife Barbara and family.


Bill and Nicky Wells had discovered that in the 1850 Census, Robert and his family were living in Jackson Township, Clinton County, Indiana.? The family consisted of Robert, age 46; Isabell, age 42; Aaron, age 22; Edward, age 18, and James H., age 14. Living next door to the Wells was the family of Alvin and Catherine VICE. Daughter, Nancy Wells, was not to be found. A search of the marriage records in Clinton County and of various databases at RootsWeb soon solved the problem. Nancy A. Wells had married Levi Isgrigg, 23 September 1846. Levi died 15 October 1850 and on 4 March 1852, Nancy married the widower, Alvin Vice. He was twenty-five years her senior. In the 1880 Census, Alvin and Nancy Vice were living in Knox County, Missouri!


That left only Edward. He could not be found in 1880. However, since he was known to be alive in 1870, I found the following possible match in the 1870 Census of Lawrence Township, Marion County, Indiana: Edward T. Wells, age 37, a shoemaker, with wife, Hester, age 34, James, age 11; Robert W., age 9, and Ines E., age 1, all born in Indiana.


Also in the 1880 Census of Knox County was an Elizabeth Wells, age 12, born in Indiana, as had been her parents, living with Alvin and Nancy Vice. Her relationship was given as Niece. She appears to have been enumerated twice, the other occasion as a servant to George and Amanda Bishop. Aaron and Barbara had a daughter, Elizabeth, but she was born in Missouri and living with them in 1880. There were three other Wells children in Knox County, born in Indiana, all living with other families: Robert Wells, age 20, farm laborer; Charlie W. Wells, age 17, farm laborer; and Josephene Wells, age 7, at school.


There was also a James Wells, age 21, farm laborer, living with Oliver Whitesides in Warren Township., Marion County, Indiana. Both Lawrence and Warren were still largely agricultural areas on the eastern side of the county outside Indianapolis.?A search of the Marion County, Indiana probate and guardianship records will probably be necessary to get information about Edward's children if they were orphaned young.


The update about the descendants of Robert Wells and Isabella Thomas, including secondary sources, such as databases at RootsWeb and FamilySearch, can now be found at The Aaron Wells and Ruth Wiggins Family Association web page at





Map of District of West Augusta, 1776

From the "Semi-Centennial History of West Virginia",

by James Morton Callahan, 1913.


The District of West Augusta, claimed by Virginia, overlapped with what is now present-day Pennsylvania. For an article about the history of the Pennsylvania-Virginia Boundary Controversy see The Raymond M. Bell Anthology.