Wheeling is a city in West Virginia, in the United States. Most of the city is in Ohio County, with a small part in Marshall County. It is the county seat of Ohio County. Wheeling is considered part of the Pittsburgh Tri-State area and is the principal city of the Wheeling Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 31,419 (31,059 in Ohio County, 360 in Marshall County). The population was estimated at 29,101 in 2007 .
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Wheeling was originally a settlement in the British Colony of Virginia and later an important city in the Commonwealth of Virginia until 1861 when the western counties of Virginia seceded from the state. Wheeling was the location of the Wheeling Convention, which established the state of West Virginia, and was the capital of West Virginia from 1861-1870 and 1875-1885. The capital of West Virginia was twice moved from Wheeling to Charleston, due mostly to political reasons and legislative agreements.
The name “Wheeling” is of the American Adena tribe derivation for “place of the skull.” At the confluence of Wheeling Creek and the Ohio River near what is now 16th and Main Streets, a white settler was scalped and decapitated, and the severed head displayed. Originally explored by the French, Wheeling still has a lead plate remnant buried by Celeron de Bienville in 1749 at the mouth of Wheeling Creek. Later, Christopher Gist and even George Washington surveyed the land in 1751 and 1770, respectively.
Ebenezer, Silas, and Jonathan Zane were the first and original settling family near the present day City of Wheeling. The settlement, called Zanesburg, is believed to have occurred in 1769. Other notable families joined the settlement including the Shepherds (see Monument Place), the Wetzels, and the McCollochs (see McColloch’s Leap). It was officially established as a town in 1795 and incorporated in 1806. By an act of the Virginia General Assembly on December 27, 1797, Wheeling was named the county seat of Ohio County.
Originally dubbed Fort Fincastle in 1774, the fort was later renamed Fort Henry in honor of Virginia’s American Governor Patrick Henry. In 1777, Native American Indians of the Shawnee, Wyandot and Mingo tribes of the surrounding areas joined to attack settlements along the Ohio River. Local men later joined by recruits from Fort Shepherd (in Elm Grove) and Fort Holliday. The native attacking force subsequently burned the surrounding cabins and destroyed livestock.
“McColloch’s Leap”During the first attack of the year, Major Samuel McColloch led a small force of men from Fort Vanmetre along Short Creek to assist the besieged Fort Henry. McColloch was separated from his men and was chased by attacking Indians. Upon his horse, McColloch charged up Wheeling Hill and made what is known as McColloch’s Leap 300 feet down its eastern side.
Later in 1777, a native army along with some British soldiers attempted to take Fort Henry. During this siege, Fort Henry’s supply of ammunition was exhausted. The defenders decided to dispatch one of its men to secure more ammunition from the Zane homestead. Betty Zane volunteered for the dangerous task. During her departing run, she was heckled by both native and British soldiers. Upon successfully reaching the Zane homestead, she gathered a table cloth and filled it with gunpowder. During her return, she was fired upon but was uninjured. It is believed that one bullet did, in fact, pierce her clothing. As a result of Zane’s heroism, Fort Henry remained in American control.
Wheeling is located in Northern West Virginia, on what is known as the northern panhandle. It is directly across the river from the state of Ohio and only 11 miles west of Pennsylvania. It is a part of the Tri-State bordering area of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, which is commonly referred to as the Ohio River Valley Region or “The Ohio Valley”.
Wheeling Creek flows through the city, and meets the Ohio River in downtown Wheeling.
The city is located both on the West Virginia side of the Ohio River and on an island in the middle of the river called Wheeling Island