History in a Nutshell
The area was first settled around 1798. The town was formed in 1805 while still part of Fulton County and was set off from parts of the Towns of Mayfield and Northampton of that county. The town was subsequently reduced by the formation of other towns in Hamilton County, to include Hope (1818) and Long Lake (1837). The Town of Gilman was reportedly named for settler John Gilman.
Elias P. Gilman petitioned the state and had surveys of Gilman made in 1838.) was taken from Wells in 1841, but much of that region was returned to Wells when Gilman was dissolved in 1860. Wells has been increased subsequent to its initial formation by parts of Mayfield (1812, 1816), Northampton (1816), and Lake Pleasant (1858).
War of 1812
The United States of America declared war on Great Britain on June 18, 1812. The settlers of Wells and Lake Pleasant, New York were afraid of potential attacks from Native Americans who allied with the British Empire to attack American settlements. The Native Americans were seen roaming in the forest hunting, trapping and fishing. Despite no attacks, the Adirondack settlers who considered themselves on the Northern Frontier boundary of the St. Lawrence, fled from their homes and scattered themselves to the counties of Saratoga, Rensselaer and Montgomery. All inhabitants except the Peck family, left Lake Pleasant and so did a large majority left Wells. An application was made by a remaining few settlers to the NY state governor Daniel D. Tompkins for an order to raise a company of volunteers from Lake Pleasant and Wells to create a militia in order to "ally the fears of the inhabitants", to protect them from a possible massacre and to encourage them to return to their homes. The petition was granted and William B Peck of Lake Pleasant was commissioned captain of the Wells and Lake Pleasant Home Guards of Company C under Montgomery counties militia 122 regiment. Lt. John L Francisco of Wells later took command of the militia as William Peck retired from his post.
The War of 1812, brought a need for roads to be built so the USA could invade Canada. A military road was created through the town of Wells to reach the St. Lawrence river so men and provisions could be transported easily into Canadian territory.
A Massachusetts Air National Guard plane crash occurred on September 17, 1986 in Wells. Four planes were involved in the training mission and two of the four crashed into the Adirondack mountains killing one pilot and injuring the other. The crash is said to have been the inspiration for a two-part episode of The X-Files, set in the nearby village of Northville, New York, but no filming took place in either location.