Wells Sisters’ Legacy Lives On
Delving in to Sistersville’s historical background can often be a long and interesting process. Even more interesting, however, can be a drive around the town, viewing historical buildings and sites, and stepping into an era not many of us can possibly fathom. The Sistersville Ferry, The Wells Inn, City Hall, and the Gaslight Theatre are all examples of the history that has withstood time.
Terry Wiley, a Sistersville resident, owns one of the few historical homes in the town and shared some information he knew about the house he now residies in.
The brick house at 809 Main Street was built in 1895 and was once occupied by Martha and Temperance Wells. These sisters were the granddaughters of Ephraim Wells who built the Wells Inn after oil was discovered in the town. The fence in front of the house, Wiley says, is the original fence the duo had moved from the property of what is now the People’s Bank parking lot. The two owned a house that stood on the property, had the house cut in half, moved, and reassembled in another location. The fence was then moved to where the new house was being built on Main Street.
The fence, however, is not the only original piece in the house. Wiley says the porch columns, floors, a bathtub, and some of the stained glass windows are original, as well. Wiley described the architecture as Late Victorian, citing the large, asymmetrical shape and multi-faceted roof.
The third floor, according to Wiley, was once a ballroom. Although updates have been made to the home, including an elevator, there is still a stage on the top floor. The sisters also owned the Wells Inn, and Wiley reported there was a telephone that ran directly from the home to the Inn.
Although the sisters never married, Wiley reported he has a letter written by a man from Salt Lake City proposing marriage to both of them. In addition, neither of them had children. Temperance passed away in 1915. Martha died in 1935 at the age of 85.
Wiley moved into the house six years ago and often questions if these sisters still visit the home. He reported he has had several odd occurrences, including a recent one where a picture was moved from it’s original resting place.
Standing on the front porch, Wiley often envisions a time when street cars passed by in front of the house, when the oil industry was booming in the area. He envisions the oil well that once stood in the back yard. He wonders what times would have been like when these two women resided in the house he now calls his home. This is only one of the many historical landmarks in the town, and the story it tells is significant.