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The Roots of Wellsburg Run Deep

Updated: Jul 6

Settled In 1772 and Still Growing Strong

Historical Sites Near the Town Square

PHOTO OF 1788 WELLS LOG HOUSE.


Members of the Iroquois Indian Nation Tribes were originally living near what is today Wellsburg, West Virginia. However, in 1772 the three Cox brothers made tomahawk claims totaling 1200 acres. A tomahawk claim, also called cabin rights, was a method used by Europeans settling in parts of Appalachia and what is now the midwestern United States. They would mark the trees near the source of a spring with their name to claim the area. In 1788 Alexander Wells built the Wells Log House at what is now Third Street in Wellsburg. Later, in 1791, the town was chartered as Charlestown. The Wharf became the center of an area that housed warehouses and active boat yards. By 1816, Charlestown was renamed Wellsburg to avoid confusion with Charles Town, West Virginia located in the eastern part of the state. The name Wellsburg was chosen to honor Alexander Wells, the early settler previously mentioned for his cabin. The first glass factory in West Virginia was built in Wellsburg in 1813 by Isaac Duvall and Company. The population peaked in 1930 at 6,398 and was around 2,401 at 2021. Today Wellsburg is a close-knit community leveraging its strength and history.


PHOTO OF THE OHIO RIVER LOOKING FROM WELLSBURG, WEST VIRGINIA

ACROSS TOWARDS BRILLIANT, OHIO.


 

Wells Log House

FRONT OF 1788 WELLS LOG HOUSE FACING CHARLES STREET IN WELLSBURG.


PLAQUE COMMEMORATING THE DEDICATION OF THIS HISTORIC BUILDING IN 2004.


Presently located at the corner of Charles St. and 6th St. in Wellsburg, this house was built by Alexander Wells, an early settler in 1788. At that time the house was built it was located in what was 65 Washington Street, Buffaloe, Virginia. That location is now Third Street in Wellsburg, WV. The log house marker was dedicated at its present location in 2004. The log house has four rooms on two floors with a fireplace in each room. These fireplaces are noteworthy for their “turkey breast” design.


 

Wellsburg City Hall

PHOTO OF PRESENT-DAY CITY HALL FACING THE TOWN SQUARE.


PHOTO OF WELLSBURG TOWN HALL CA. 1940 ACQUIRED FROM JAMES R. WILKIN FOR THE WEST VIRGINIA AND REGIONAL HISTORY COLLECTION, WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES VIA WEST VIRGINIA HISTORY ON VIEW, HTTPS://WWW.WESTVIRGINIAHISTORYONVIEW.ORG/CATALOG/012456. 


PHOTO OF WELLSBURG TOWN HALL CA. 1912 ACQUIRED FROM THE POST CARD COLLECTION OF WOLF’S HEAD BOOKS BY THE WEST VIRGINIA AND REGIONAL HISTORY COLLECTION, WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES VIA WEST VIRGINIA HISTORY ON VIEW, HTTPS://WWW.WESTVIRGINIAHISTORYONVIEW.ORG/CATALOG/041847.


PHOTO OF THE OLD MARKET HOUSE CA. 1914 FROM THE WEST VIRGINIA AND REGIONAL HISTORY COLLECTION, WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES VIA WEST VIRGINIA HISTORY ON VIEW, HTTPS://WWW.WVHISTORYONVIEW.ORG/CATALOG/012452.


The present-day city hall was built ca. 1940 on the previous site of the Old Market House. The Old Market House was built in 1828 on land that had been donated for that express purpose by Jacob Dekamp and served as the town’s marketplace until 1892. At that time The Old Market House was tore down to make space for a new town hall. “The heirs of Mr. Dekamp protested saying the land was donated for a market house and since a market house was not being built, they requested the property be returned to them” (Wellsburg Walking Tour). The town hall was built but succumbed to fire in 1939. The second town hall was then built the following year.


PHOTO OF THE BICENTENNIAL TIME CAPSULE WHICH IS BURIED IN FRONT OF CITY HALL.


 

Wellsburg Town Square


THE TWO PHOTOS ABOVE SHOW THE DEDICATION PLAQUES FOR THE INITIAL CONSTRUCTION OF THE TOWN SQUARE FROM A FORMER SECTION OF SEVENTH STREET.


PHOTO OF THE WELLSBURG TOWN SQUARE TAKEN JULY 3, 2024. THE STANDS ARE ALREADY IN PLACE FOR THE UPCOMING FOURTH OF JULY FESTIVITIES.

 

Brooke County Courthouse

PHOTO OF THE BROOKE COUNTY COURTHOUSE BUILT IN 1849.


PHOTO OF THE BROOKE COUNTY COURTHOUSE ANNEX BUILT IN 1977.


PHOTO OF THE COMMEMORATIVE PLAQUE FOR THE 1977 COURTHOUSE ANNEX DEDICATION.


PHOTO OF THE NEWLY OPENED BROOKE COUNTY JUDICIAL CENTER.


This courthouse built in 1849 replaced a previous building on this same site that was built in 1799. The courthouse annex was completed in 1977. Most recently, the Brooke County Judicial Center was dedicated in the spring of 2024. This building is unique because along with its classic styling, it was built with state-of-the-art security and is adapted to withstand its location on the 100-year flood plain.


 

 

Wellsburg Wharf

PHOTO OF THE WEST VIRGINIA HISTORICAL SITE MARKER FOR THE WELLSBURG WHARF.


The Wellsburg Wharf was first used in the 1790s and was formally established as a public wharf in 1836. This river town was the host of various industries including the first glass manufacturing in West Virginia. The town became known for its shipbuilding and boat repair. Today this area is a city park with views of the Ohio River.


PHOTO OF THE PARK AREA NEXT TO THE OHIO RIVER.


PHOTO OF PLAQUE COMMEMORATING THE DONATION OF THE PARK AREA BY EARL C. MCLAUGHLIN, III.


PHOTO OF PLAQUE COMMEMORATING THE GIANT SYCAMORE TREE PLANTED BY DR. ALBERT WHEELER. THIS TREE WAS THE LOCATION THAT MILITIAMEN GATHERED IN 1863 DURING THE CIVIL WAR. “MANY OF THE DEEDS OF WELLSBURG PROPERTY ARE MEASURED FROM THIS TREE.”


PHOTO OF MONUMENT COMMEMORATING THE LIFE OF PATRICK GASS (1771-1870). PATRICK GASS ACCOMPANIED THE LEWIS AND CLARK EXPEDITION AND FOUGHT IN THE WAR OF 1812. HE EVENTUALLY SETTLED IN WELLSBURG, WV, MARRIED, AND HAD SEVEN CHILDREN. THIS MONUMENT IS LOCATED AT THE WELLSBURG WHARF ALONG THE OHIO RIVER.


 

 

Arabian Nights Bed and Breakfast

at the Lucas Walter House

PHOTO OF THE FORMER LUCAS WALTER HOME WHICH IS NOW A BED AND BREAKFAST.


Built in 1906 by West Virginia oil and gas magnate Lucas Walter, this home has a style that reflects the wealth of many at the turn of the twentieth century. It boasts oak woodwork and a dance room. “It was said that Mr. Walters believed in spirits and once a week held a séance and invited friends to attend. His medium was also his mistress” (Wellsburg Walking Tour). After the death of Lucas Walter, the home fell into disrepair. However, it was recently purchased and remodeled by Danielle Thomas, bringing it not only back to its former glory, but allowing this home to debut as an up-and-coming bed and breakfast and hosted catering venue in the area.

 

Arabian Nights LLC

Bed and Breakfast

Hosted Catering for Small Gatherings

 

Danielle Thomas, Proprietor

542 Main Street

Wellsburg WV 26070

412-519-4566


 

A. S. Smith Building

PHOTO OF THE A. S. SMITH BUILDING.


The A. S. Smith Building built in 1891, housed Traubert’s pharmacy for over 70 years. It displays true Victorian style with its pressed metal façade and colorfully painted trim detailing. This building is now awaiting new occupancy and a fresh start in the historic district.


A. S. Smith Building

800 Charles Street

Wellsburg, WV 26070


 

References

 

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. "Wellsburg". Encyclopedia Britannica, 5 Feb. 2015, https://www.britannica.com/place/Wellsburg. Accessed 27 June 2024.


Chambers, Jr., S. Allen. “A. Trauberts (Smith Building).” Archipedia, https://www.sah-archipedia.org/buildings/WV-01-BR12


Cipriani, Anthony. Wellsburg Walking Tour. Compiled by Gwendolyn Mackey Hubbard and Bobbie Britt Elliott. https://www.brookecountywestvirginiageneology.org/walkingtour.html#SnippetTab

 

“Conflict with Indian Tribes in late 1700’s.” Jefferson County Historical Society, 27 May 2015, https://www.jeffcountyhistorical.org/conflict-with-indian-tribes/

 

“Early Glass Houses of Brooke County,” Brooke County West Virginia Genealogy Society, https://www.brookecountywvgeneology.org/industrial2.html

 

Greathouse, Ruby A. "Wellsburg." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 03 August 2023. Web. 27 June 2024, https://wwwwvencyclopedia.org/articles/983


Henry, Harold and Nadine Hull Arnold, “Wells Family,” 1969, 1998, https://www.brookecountywvgeneology.org/wells-family.html


Kerr, Ralph, editor and publisher. Industrial Wellsburg: Home of Thrift, Enterprise, and Industry. 1899.

 

Roose, Colin. “Rent a Remodeled and Historic 1906 Home on the Ohio River.” WTRF, 26 May 2024, https://www.wtrf.com/wellsburg/rent-a-remodeled-and-historic-1906-home-on-the-Ohio-River/ 


 

History in the Making

THE TWO PHOTOS ABOVE SHOW THE COMMUNITY SPONSORS INVOLVED WITH THE REVITALIZATION PROJECT.


PHOTO FROM 2022 SHOWING THE BUILDINGS THAT WILL DIRECTLY BENEFIT FROM THE GRANT FUNDS. THIS PHOTO SHOWS THE UNUSUAL MANSARD STYLE ROOF ON THE HISTORIC BUILDING TO THE FAR RIGHT. CURRENTLY, THAT ROOF HAS BEEN TEMPORARILY REMOVED FOR SAFETY REASONS.


"Three historic buildings in Wellsburg's town square will be revitalized thanks to a $750,000 grant from West Virginia U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito."


Hayes, Hannah. "Wellsburg to revitalize historic square with $750,000 grant from U.S. Senators" WTOV9, 27 June 2024, https://www.wtov9.com/news/local/wellsburg-to-revitalize-historic-square-with-75000-grant-from-us-senators


The history of Wellsburg continues with this revitalization project to maximize the use of the historic buildings that face the town square. 


 

Upcoming events:

 

Wellsburg Annual 4TH of July Celebration

“A hometown tradition since 1947.”

 

Wellsburg Applefest

Established 1978

October 4, 5, and 6, 2024


 

Also, you may want to check out:  


Brooke County Historical Museum

and Cultural Center

PHOTO OF THE BROOKE COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM AND CULTURAL CENTER.


Located in historic Wellsburg, this museum has something for everyone, from military uniforms to exhibits of common household rooms from different time periods. Be sure to check out their glass display room to see many examples of locally made glass.

 

Brooke County Historical Museum and Cultural Center

704 Charles Street

Wellsburg, WV 26070

304-737-4060

 

Hours

Open from April through October

THUR, FRI, SUN: 1PM – 5PM

Admission

Admission Fee Required

On-street parking


 

These books are in the BCPL collection:

 

Historic West Virginia: The National Register of Historic Places

Author: Katherine M. Jourdan

Call number: 975.4 HISTORIC (WV), located at the BCPL main location in the Adult Nonfiction section


A History of Brooke County

Author: Nancy Lee Caldwell

Call number: 973.754 Caldwell (WV), located at the BCPL main location in the Adult Nonfiction section


A History of William Bonar and Jane McColloch Bonar: Pioneer Settlers of the Upper Ohio Valley: Including a History of Greenbury Dorsey Bonar and His Descendants

Author: Bruce Delano Bonar

Call number: 929.2 BONAR (WV), located at the BCPL main location in the Adult Nonfiction section

 

Lookin’ Back: A Pictorial History of Brooke County, West Virginia

Compiled by members of the Brooke County Genealogical Society, Inc.

Call number: WVR 975.4 LOOKIN’, located at the BCPL main location in the West Virginia Reference section (library use only)


 

 

All efforts were made in good faith for accuracy of content of this blog post. However, fees charged, and hours of operation may be subject to change without notice. Information was retrieved 7/3/24.

 

 

Next week we’ll explore the history of the Brooke County Public Libraries…


 

Kirstie Perkins

Kirstie Perkins is a summer intern at Brooke County Public Libraries and Visitors Center in West Virginia. She is pursuing her Bachelor of Technical and Applied Studies with a focus on nonprofit studies, communication studies, and fine arts. When not studying or interning, she enjoys gardening, making new things from recycled materials, and writing.


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