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Ohio Valley Board of Trade Brochure: Wheeling - Historic Outpost of the Central West

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▼ Ohio Valley Board of Trade Brochure:
    "Wheeling - Historic Outpost of the Central West"

-Brochure from the OCPL Archives Vertical File: City of Wheeling brochures. Published by the Ohio Valley Board of Trade. Undated (circa ~1937)

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Brochure text


Wheeling - Historic Outpost of the Central West





The origin of the name Wheeling described in the following is generally accepted as authentic.

Delaware Indians cut off the head of a white settler, placing it on a pole with the face toward the river, called the spot "Weeling." If on Indian were asked after shooting a deer or bear where he had hit the animal, his answer, (if in the head) would be "weeling." Why the "H" was inserted we do not know except it may be supposed that later generations, fancying it to be named after Wheeling Creek, or the wheeling character of the stream, sought to improve the original orthography, and hence called it Wheeling. The oldest record of the name Wheeling Creek is on the Lewis Evans' map published in London in 1755, and it is the oldest published English map of the interior portions of the United States.

WHEELING: In 1769-70 the Zane Brothers staked out a claim here. As early as 1749, a leaden plate was buried at the mouth of the Wheeling Creek, describing the French Exploration of the Ohio by de Celeron, yet it was not until twenty years after that the first white settlers "pitched their tents" here permanently. Then it was that the notable Zane family who had prospected the ground during the previous year, arrived and took what was then termed "Tomahawk" possession. They consisted of Colonel Ebenezer, Jonathan, Isaac and Silas Zane, who were soon after joined by Lewis Wetzel, Samuel McColloch, John Caldwell and others.

West Liberty was the first county seat of Ohio County, created by an act of the Virginia Legislature in October, 1778. The first Court organized in Ohio County was held at West Liberty on January 16, 1777. Ohio County included Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel, Tyler, part of Doddridge and Pleasants and extended into Pennsylvania. The first deed on record in Ohio County is one mode by Abraham Van Metre, dated March 6, 1777, in which he conveyed to Ohio County at West Liberty two acres of ground, upon which was built the first county court house.

At Wheeling in 1861, delegates gathered to organize West Virginia as the 35th State of the Union. Twice later, 1863 to 1869 and 1875 to 1885, Wheeling was the Capitol of the State. The old Linsly Institute building on the corner of Fifteenth and Eoff Streets was the first Capitol Building.

MONUMENT PLACE: Built in 1798 by Moses Shepherd, as "Shepherd's Hall" is the splendid old stone mansion at Elm Grove, near Fort Shepherd. The Shepherds were warm personal friends of Henry Clay and it was he who caused the National Pike to pass through the Shepherd estate rather than proceed into the Ohio Valley by the way of Wellsburg. Besides, Clay, General Lafayette, Calhoun, Andrew Jackson and James K. Polk were frequent visitors. Moses Shepherd, who built the mansion, was the grandson of Colonel Thomas Shepherd, who founded Shepherdstown, and the son of Colonel Davis Shepherd.

WASHINGTON FARM: Lawrence Augustine Washington, born in 1775, fifth child of Samuel Washington, lived and died on his farm near Wheeling. His father Samuel was the youngest brother of General George Washington. The graves of Lawrence Washington, his wife, Dorcas and daughter Emma Tell are on the Washington Farm.

FORT HENRY: At Wheeling was erected in 1774, and was first coiled Fort Fincastle in honor of Lord Dunmore, the royal Governor of Virginia. In 1776 the name was changed to Fort Henry, in honor of Patrick Henry, first colonial Governor of Virginia. On September 11, 1782, Fort Henry was attacked by British troops and Indians. The siege lasted for two days. It was during this siege that Elizabeth Zane carried the powder from her brother's house to the Fort, thus saving the lives of the inmates and enabling them to successfully withstand the siege. This was the last
battle of the Revolution.

FORT VAN METRE: was built on ground owned by Abraham Von Metre and his son John. It was about four miles south of West Liberty. It was commanded by Major Samuel McColloch, the noted Indian fighter, and was used by the settlers as a place of refuge. Major Samuel McColloch was killed by the Indians on July 30, 1782, while on a scouting expedition with his brother John. A party of men from Fort Von Metre brought the body back to the Fort where it was buried.


1 - Ft. Henry - Last Battle of the Revolution - Main Street.
2 - McColloch's Leap - Indian Warfare - National Highway.
3 - Mingo Tribe of Indians - National Highway.
4 - Indian Mound - Moundsville.
5 - Monument Place - Elm Grove - Refer to History.
6 - Birth of State of West Virginia - 15th and Eoff Streets.
7 - First Capitol built by State - Now City-County Building.
8 - Madonna of the Trail - Wheeling Park.
9 - Soldiers and Sailors of Civil War - City-County Building
10 - Trades and Labor - City-County Building
11 - World War Veterans - Wheeling Park
Cover - Suspension Bridge, built 1850 - National Highway



Ohio County was the first and only county in the State to accept and put into operation the provision of the act passed by the Virginia Legislature in 1846 which provided for the establishment of the district school system. The first public school was established in the Third ward in Wheeling in 1848. Today Wheeling has 52 public, parochial and private schools.

Linsly Institute, school for boys, established in 1814, was the first college established in Wheeling and was followed by the West Virginia Teachers College (co-educational) at West Liberty in 1838. Bethany College (co-educational) was established at Bethany, West Va., in 1840 and Mount de Chantal Academy for Girls in 1850.

These institutions of learning are approved degree granting colleges and offer excellent opportunities for higher education of young men and women.

Elliot's School of Business, a college of high rank, is located in the business district of Wheeling.


The first church was established at West Liberty, near Wheeling, in the year 1782 at Stone Meeting House. In 1785 the second church was established by another group which was followed by others of various denominations until today Wheeling has eighty-three churches representing different denominations. 

While visiting with us, you will be impressed the large number of churches you see, and then too, you will have the opportunity of choosing the church of your faith. These churches are conveniently located to homes and hotels. Among our churches are many of outstanding architectural distinction. 

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-Information on this page compiled by erothenbuehler
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