Conservation District Honors Wells Farm | News, Sports, Jobs
Wells Farm, located in Tyler County, was one of four farms in West Virginia recognized as a 150-year farm for 2021. The same family must have owned at least 150 years to be designated a farm. of the hundred and fiftieth anniversary.
Luella Wells, owner of the farm, her son Joe Wells and grandson, Nick Wells, received an outdoor sign signifying this recognition by Wayne McKeever and Patricia Thomas, Supervisors of the Upper Ohio Conservation District.
Most Tyler Countians are very familiar with this quaint farmhouse with the bright red barn located along Route 18. Photos of the farm have been featured on the covers of many issues of Wonderful West Virginia Magazine and Blue Ridge Magazine. Photos were also featured in West Virginia calendars and in a promotional brochure for the town of Sistersville.
Tyler County history buffs may already be familiar with the streetcar track that ran from Sistersville to Middlebourne in the early 1900s. The track passed through Wells Farm, making it easy to transport milk and their other farm produce. towards the city.
The farm has produced many great champion bulls and steers over the years and currently maintains an active hay crop.
Isaac Holmes purchased the property from David and Mary McCoy on April 1, 1846. 2021 marks the 175th anniversary of his purchase. The original deed shows that he purchased 256 acres on Pursley Creek for $ 1,000. The property was owned by David McCoy, Robert Patterson, heirs of John Rupall and James Stealy. Isaac was born February 16, 1808 in Holiday’s Cove, Virginia (now Weirton, WV) at Collins Station along Harmon Creek and died March 9, 1888. His parents, Thomas and Nacy McGreary Holmes, immigrated from Donegal , Ireland, in 1796. Isaac moved to County Monroe, Ohio, in 1832, where he met his future wife, Mary Magdeline Roth Holmes. They were married on May 10, 1835 when Mary was 15 years old. The family history mentions that Mary remembered holding an apron full of small parts for the passage. Family history also indicates that Mr. Roth was the driver of Napoleon’s car.
Isaac and Mary moved to Tyler County, Virginia (now West Virginia) when they bought the farm in 1846. Issac and Mary started their farm and Mary told the story to her grandchildren about her and Isaac using a two-man chop saw to cut logs for a barn. It was called the tobacco barn. It was about 20 feet x 20 feet and was one story. It lasted from the 1840s until the 1970s when it was demolished. It is believed that there were slaves buried near the tobacco barn, but they predate Isaac, the owner of the property. He is known to have been against slavery and census data confirms that he did not own slaves.
Isaac is credited with starting the Lond Run School and later what was called Iorn Bridge or Lower Pursley School along Pleasants Ridge Road was built on the farm. Their farm was also a relay station for Union Army messages during the Civil War with a soldier stationed at the farm to relay messages to the next station.
When he died on March 9, 1888, Isaac was buried on a hill overlooking the farm. Likewise, Mary was buried in the same location when she died on November 3, 1900. They were later transferred to Laear Chapel Cemetery in Kidwell, Tyler County, West Virginia.
When Isaac and Mary died, ownership of part of the farm passed to their youngest daughter, Effie Holmes Wells. Effie’s eldest son Otis quickly began farming this land and made many improvements to the property, including the construction of a house, barns, sheds, and other buildings. Otis married Shirley Moore Wells on November 4, 1906 and they expanded their farm into a dairy. This created a pretty busy lifestyle for Otis with teaching and running a dairy while raising a family.
Around 1913, the Tyler Traction Company built a streetcar track from Sistersville to Middlebourne and the track ran through the farm. There was a loading platform along the track which made it easier to transport milk and their other agricultural products to the city. It also drastically reduced the time and effort required to get to town. The previous mode of transport was the horse and later the Model T after purchasing their first car on August 10, 1916.
Otis was a well-known teacher in the area for many years. He has taught in several of Tyler County’s one-room schools. In 1906, he corresponded with LJ Corbly about the courses. At the time, Corbly was the principal of Marshall College, which awarded only normal education degrees. Corbly would become the first president of Marshall College (now the university). Corbly grew up in nearby Alma, WV.
With their sixth child, Nile, on the way, Otis and Shirley have doubled the size of their home by adding a second floor to accommodate their growing family. This addition would have been completed in 1921. Another smaller addition was made in the late 1940s and this house is still used today by the current owner, Luella Wells. Otis and Shirley are said to have eight children who all grew up on the farm and contributed to its success. Their children were; Earl, Carl, Glen, Ruth, Wayne, Nile, Mary and Paul.
At forty-nine, Otis contracted typhoid fever and was thought to come out of it when he developed pneumonia. He died on November 22, 1930 in the midst of the Great Depression. The death of the family patriarch and the depression made the 1930s difficult for the family and everyone. Shirley was now in charge of running the farm and she was also a single mother with six of the eight children aged 18 and under. They banded together and made the sale of the farm’s produce and livestock their main source of income and livelihood during this time.
The 1940s brought World War II. Earl and Carl had married and started a family of their own. Glen and Wayne joined the war effort, Nile left college to come home and run the farm with help from Paul, who was in high school. After Glen and Wayne were demobilized, they returned home to tend the farm while Nile and Paul went to war as part of the occupation army in Japan. Upon completion of his military service, Nile returned to college and earned his bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the University of West Virginia. He returned and ran the farm after graduating.
With the rest of the children moving away to start their own families, Shirley and Nile stopped milk production in the 1950s as there weren’t so many hands left to run a labor-intensive dairy farm. . They changed the farm to a beef cattle farm with a focus on raising Herefords as their main breed. On October 3, 1958, the family lost Effie Holmes Wells. She lived a good life until she was 100 years old. Think about everything that happened in her lifetime, all of which was in County Tyler, which spanned from Civil War to World Wars two and the start of the Space Race with the launch of Sputnik. With her passing, the farm officially changed hands from Effie and her two living sons, Dallas and Creed, to the heirs of Otis Wells. These were Otis’ wife, Shirley, and their eight children.
The 1960s brought Nile’s marriage to Lella Amos Wells in 1962. Nile remained on the farm to manage the day-to-day operations and Shirley took this opportunity to move to Sistersville where she ran a millinery for many years. Nile’s brothers who lived in the area remained involved with the farm, helping out at key times such as the harvest.
The 1970s brought another major change as Nile was able to purchase shares in the farm from his mother and siblings and become the sole owner. This took place on February 10, 1976. Nile orchestrated many improvements to buildings and grounds for the rest of his life. The grounds have remained as pristine as they always have been and the barns and buildings have been painted, making the farmhouse very quaint. Photos of the farm have been featured on the covers of numerous editions of Wonderful West Virginia Magazine and Blue Ridge Magazine. Photos were also featured in West Virginia calendars and in a promotional brochure for the town of Sistersville.