Bob Sholly

Bob Sholly

Bob Sholly

Bob Sholly is a new Trigg County resident.  He recently retired from his job as a business executive in Henderson, Kentucky, and moved to his vacation home here in “paradise.”  Bob is an avid historian, having done all of the genealogical research on his family line and Patriot ancestor.  His uniform (pictured above), namely the dark brown wool coat with red face, is an accurate historical representation of what his ancestor wore during the American Revolution.

His Ancestor: James Wells, Sr.
1st Lieutenant – Wyoming/Westmorland Independent Co. – Connecticut Continental Line
Killed in Action – July 3, 1778 – Wyoming Massacre, Pennsylvania

James Wells was born in Colchester, CT in 1732. As an adult, he is said to have been six feet, seven inches in height. He married Hannah Loomis in 1754 and, in 1771, moved his family to Wyalusing in Northern Pennsylvania. There he helped as a surveyor in settling the boundaries of Kingston, Plymouth and Springfield townships. In 1776, threats from Indians drove the family to Wyoming, PA (at the time part of Connecticut), which was more thickly settled.

On March 6, 1776, sixty six men in the Wyoming Valley organized themselves into a military company and offered their services to the Continental Congress to “engage in the common cause as soldiers in defense of liberty.” August 23, 1776, the Continental Congress authorized two independent Companies in the Wyoming/Westmoreland region and, on August 26, 1776, commissioned James Wells, Sr. as Lieutenant of the Wyoming Independent Company. Throughout the war, the two companies were kept as distinct corps of the Continental Army in case they were needed in the Wyoming Valley to protect their homes and families, but were mustered with the 24th Connecticut Regiment.

December 12, 1776, the Continental Congress ordered the two independent companies “to Join General Washington with all possible expedition.” January 1, 1777 they marched from Wilkes-Barre, PA, to join General Washington at Morristown, NJ. After Morristown they fought in the battles of Mill Stone River, Bound Brook, Germantown, Brandywine, and Fort Mifflin. December 19, 1777, they moved into winter quarters at Valley Forge, PA.

In June of 1778 the Independent Companies received word of an impending attack on the Wyoming Valley by the British allied with warriors from the Seneca nation of the Iroquois League, and the commanders of the Independent Companies immediately left with 25 men to take part in defending the valley. July 3, 1778, the patriots marched forth to the tune of “St. Patrick’s Day In The Morning” played by the fifers and drummers of several companies and carrying the new national flag. A battle raged vehemently until, just as the left of the British/Seneca lines were about to give way, an order to reposition the Patriot line was misunderstood by the inexperienced militia. They panicked. The infuriated Seneca sprang forward slaughtering the Patriots. Within an hour, the Seneca took 227 American scalps.

Darkness put an end to the conflict, but increased the horrors. Prisoners were tortured and murdered. At midnight sixteen of them were arranged around a rock, held by the Seneca, and a half-breed woman called Queen Esther used a tomahawk and club alternately to murder all but two who escaped to the woods. A great fire lighted the scene and revealed its horrors to witnesses concealed among the rocks not far away. Early the next morning, the small fort protecting the women, children and aged – Forty Fort – surrendered on a promise of safety for the persons remaining. The terms were respected a few hours but when the British left, the Indians spread over the plains and, with torches, tomahawks, and scalping-knives, made it an absolute desolation. The July 3, 1778 slaughter in which First Lieutenant James Wells was killed has become known as the Wyoming Valley Massacre. A monument stands in Wyoming, PA, where those slain in the battle were buried. It carries their names, including that of First Lieutenant Wells.

His wife, Hannah Loomis Wells, was able to escape with her twelve children, the youngest being two years old, and one horse. She made her way through the forests and hills, at times subsiding on berries found by the wayside, back to Connecticut. In 1787 she returned to Wyalusing, and in 1794 she moved to Merryall, PA. She died in 1795 and was the first person to be buried in the Merryall cemetery.

Wyoming Battlefield Monument

Wyoming Battlefield Monument

James Wells listed among the slain Lieutenants.

James Wells listed among the slain Lieutenants.

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: