From Ohio History Central
Bezaleel Wells Letter to Thomas Rotch Regarding Clay
Bezaleel Wells founded Steubenville on the ruins of Fort Steuben in 1797. Located in the Seven Ranges, most early settlers were squatters from Pennsylvania and Virginia. Wells selected Steubenville's location because it was centered in a valley with relatively fertile soils. Much of the Seven Ranges was too hilly and had too poor soil for productive farms. In 1805, Wells also helped found Canton. During the 1810s, Wells began to diversify his business interests. In 1815, he helped establish a woolen mill at Steubenville. The building was three stories high and approximately one hundred feet long. It employed more than one hundred workers, including approximately fifty men, thirty women, and forty children. The factory produced broad cloth, a dense woolen fabric with a lustrous finish. Unfortunately for Wells, only wealthy people could afford broad cloth, and the factory closed during the Panic of 1819. Wells also opened the first bank in Steubenville. He symbolizes the slow transition of Ohio from an agriculturally-based economy to a more diverse one.