The Francis Wells Family Cemetery is located near Highway 31, behind the Sellersburg Industrial Park, across from the Moose Lodge. The cemetery itself is well off the road, behind a field, inside the woods.Special Announcement: The clean-up of Francis Wells Cemetery was scheduled to begin in the Spring or Summer of 1998. The property owner has granted us permission to start the work and has plans to build a road which will facilitate access to this site; however, when I visited Francis Wells Cemetery on June 20, 1998, we could not find it, the brush and weeds are so high and dense as to complete hide the cemetery. If we are eventually able to find the burial site, we will again attempt to clean it up.
As of December 1997, there was only one visible stone there. A report on the site done in 1963 indicates that there are probably 30 graves here, though only a few stones remained visible even then.
As late as 1963, the markers on the graves of Francis Wells and at least his first wife had not been found at this site. Once our clean-up is underway, we hope to find these and many other stones beneath the surface of the soil, which we may be able to repair.
The following is a transcript of a Silver Creek Township entry in the book "History of the Ohio Falls Counties", published in 1882:
"Fifty years ago the Wellses established a graveyard on their farm. It was used only by their families. It is now [meaning in 1882] of little service, the Wells graveyard, like many others, having almost disappeared. These old private grounds are going out of date. People begin to see the necessity of some permanent public place where their dead can be interred."
"This is a rather large cemetery with a native stone wall enclosing it but the many stones that were there are now [circa 1963] gone with only sunken places marking grave sites. This cemetery is below the location of the family home, which burned in 1938. These few stones were copied December 1963 by Mrs. Hannah Klinestiver and the compiler [presumably Mrs. Marguerite McKenzie]. Mrs. Herbert Klinestiver is a descendant of Francis Wells. HILL Catherine, daughter of John & Rebecca Hill b. 09/16/1826 d. 01/06/1833 ? WELLS Clarissa, daugher of James & Susan M. Wells; aged 9 yrs. and 2 months b. 06/02/1832 d. 08/05/1841
WELLS * Francis b. about 1777 d. 08/14/1869
WELLS * Hannah Howell, first wife of Francis Wells b. ???? d. before 1869 WELLS Mariet Maria, dau- ghter of J. & M. Wells b. 06/22/1856 d. 06/06/1860
WELLS * Mary _______, second wife of Francis Wells b. ???? d. ???? WELLS Sarah, daughter of James & Susan Wells; died at age 2 days b. 05/12/1831 d. 05/14/1831 WELLS William T., son of James & Susan M. Wells, aged 2 yrs., 10 mos., 18 days b. 11/08/1839 d. 08/26/1842
* Presumed to be buried here, based on Francis Wells' Will.Many members of the Francis Wells family are buried at nearby Plum Run Cemetery, which was restored in 1997 by Dan and Betty Johnson of Sellersburg.
The following information on Francis Wells was provided in June of 1997 by A. E. (Tony) Collier of Connecticut and he acknowledges that most of his information came from Mrs. Marguerite McKenzie of Minnesota:
Francis Wells was born about 1777 either in Connecticut or in Delaware (census records differ; Delaware is believed to be correct). Francis' first wife was Hannah Howell, who was born in Surry County, North Carolina about 1780. His second wife was named Mary (surname unknown), born in Virginia about 1788.Tony Collier received from Marguerite McKenzie, in a letter dated 21 October 1990, a document entitled "Comments on Francis Wells Family Cemetery". The document is not dated nor is the name of its author shown. The following is the content of that document without correction of spelling or punctuation:
My information is that Francis Wells died in Clark County, Indiana on 14 August 1869. I have a copy of documents provided to me by Marguerite McKenzie which deal with the probate of his will. These documents indicate that the will was probated in Clark County on 31 August 1869. The will being probated was dated 15 November 1865. These documents indicate that this will was recorded in Clark County Will Book E.
I have no direct information regarding the place of his burial, but I think there is strong evidence to indicate that he was buried in the Francis Wells Family Burying Ground. I quote the following language from his will: "First I direct that my Body be decently intered in the Family Burying Ground and along side of my First Wife."
Francis Wells was the son of James Wells and his first wife, whom Mr. Collier has not yet identified. James Wells (Francis' father) died intestate in Rowan County, North Carolina, in 1810. James Wells' second wife was Rachel Horn.
Francis Wells was listed with his family in the 1800 Rowan County, NC census (he would have been about 23 years old then). By 1809, he had moved to Clark County in the Indiana Territory.
Francis Wells had a brother named James Wells who also moved to Clark County, Indiana. James' wife was Lydia Garner. They are listed in the 1850 and 1860 Clark County census records. Mr. Collier has not yet been successful in identifying any of the children of James Wells and Lydia Garner, but he thinks it is likely that the Garner Wells (1824-1897) listed above, was a son of James Wells and Lydia Garner.
I must tell you about this cemetery. Yesterday afternoon, a beautiful, rare, spring day, Hannah Klinstiver, a niece of hers who lives in Sellersburg and knew the way to go to the farm, and I, drove there. Part of the original farm is now owned by the Y.W.C.A of Louisville, KY. and there they have "Camp Chilen" for the girls in summers. They have nice dormitories, dining room, etc., and a wonderful lake with boats on it (fine fishing, too as we used to fish there, years ago.)
This lake is the old quarry where later limestone was quarried by a cement company which owned it. The lake is called Belnap Lake after the owners of the cement company - a prominent present day Louisville family.
We parked my car and walked up a good road, unpaved to the cemetery which is lovely, but disappointing as the older stones are gone -- graves only marked by broken head and foot stones of native stone. There must be at least thirty graves there, but all the stones left are these I copied. We even felt we located the graves of Francis and his two wives, near the center of the cemetery. We carried a spade and dug many times hoping to unearth a stone. Myrtle is growing over the ground and there are lovely old trees, some of them cedars, in the cemetery.
The main thing I wished you to see was the stone fence of native field stone. This is the first one I have seen in Indiana, but there are many in Kentucky surrounding the fields, cemeteries, etc. We call them "Slave Fences", as the building of them was done by the slaves in Kentucky, and it is a lost art. They are put up without mortar of anykind, yet many have survived for over 150 years.
When I saw this Slave Fence or wall, I wondered if Francis hadn't lived in Kentucky before coming to Indiana about 1809, bringing with him slaves who became free on entering Indiana. (My own ancestors did this when they came from N.C. as they stated a few years in Kentucky and then on to Indiana and the "mammy" is buried in the family cemetery on their farm and her stone reads "A beloved friend,Judah Black."
After exploring all we could here, we continued up the little road to the end and then climbed a hill or rounded knoll where the old home had stood. The hill and fields are all covered with beautiful bluegrass. On this knoll was the remains of the foundation and cellar of the house. I learned about the house from a man whose father and mother were living in it at the time it burned, in 1938.
It had five fireplaces so large one could use large tree-like logs. There were four bedrooms upstairs and four rooms downstairs with two stairways, - the front one an open one, and the back one was a closed one. The fire started under the back stairs when the people were gone.
The house was built of brick fired on the farm and all the woodwork was of native walnut, with doors about three inches thick.
The cellar was built of large cut limestone blocks with a partition about two feet thick of the same stone, making two rooms.
There were still little blooming jonquils around where the house had stood - pathetic.
A pile of rafters which had not burned, was nearby. They were handcut about twelve and eight inches, and so heavy, I could hardly lift one end. Into each end of these was driven a large metal S for reinforcing. I thought I knew a lot about old houses, but never have seen these put in the timbers.
A well was not far from the house, Hannah remembered this well, as she said it had a large windlass over it.
A large fine stand of trees are below this mound where the house stood.
A family story about the house is that the family stood in their yard to shoot at Indians, and this I can believe. In 1812 there was that terrible massacre at Pigeon Roose, near Charlestown, and this scare was the caouse of so many of the early pioeners leaving the Ind. Territory and going back to Kentucky, until the War of 1812 ended the bravery of the Indians and they all left.
Other of the settlers would not leave their houses, and so moved their families into a center fort for protection. Some fortified their homes and stayed there.
Wandering Indians occasionally made raid on stock, etc.., so this story of shooting Indians from the yeard seemed plausible, especially after seeing the perfect location of this house.
This was indeed the home of a well-to-do farmer of the early days. My friend Hannah and her niece each brought home one of the old bricks to put in their gardens.
Wouldn't you have loved seeing this house?
The following are the known children of Francis Wells:
1. Thomas WELLS, b. about 1797, married Elizabeth CUNNINGHAM on Nov. 12, 1822 2. Wilson WELLS, b. about 1800 3. Howell WELLS, b. Jan. 22, 1804, married (1st) Catherine CUNNINGHAM on Nov. 10, 1824 in Clark County, Indiana and (2nd) Elizabeth HICKEY on June 3, 1875. Howell died in Floyd County, Indiana on June 3, 1885. 4. James WELLS, b. about 1807, married Susan Maria THOMPSON on Dec. 29, 1829 in Clark Co., Indiana 5. William WELLS, born about 1808, married Mary Ann AKIN in 1829. 6. Mary WELLS, b. about 1812, married Hiram BOWER (or BOWEN) on Dec. 25, 1833 in Clark Co., Indiana 7. Katherine WELLS, b. about 1814, married Josephus McDANIEL on May 14, 1854 in Clark Co., Indiana 8. Nancy WELLS, b. about 1817, married John Wesley HOUSE on March 24, 1838 in Clark Co., Indiana
I have no further information on this cemetery. Some of the information referenced above was obtained from the Jeffersonville Township Public Library, 211 East Court Avenue, Jeffersonville, Indiana 47130, telephone: (812) 285-5635.
E-mail: Dee Pavey
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