HOW WHEELING WEST VIRGINIA GOT ITS NAME by John Bowman

HOW DID WHEELING WEST VIRGINIA GET ITS NAME?

In the late summer of 1769, brothers Silas, Jonathan, and Ebenezer Zane left Red Stone Old Fort Pennsylvania, and traveled over a path, well known to frontier scouts, Indian traders and Indians alike, and made claim to land that would one day become Wheeling.[1] 

Delf Norona, a consummate West Virginia historian gives us the best history of the Wheeling name in: “Wheeling A West Virginia Place-Name of Indian Origin”.[2]  He writes: “The Delaware Indians referred to Wheeling, and Wheeling Creek as Wilunk or Willin, etc., meaning ‘Place of the Head’, having reference to the scalping and decapitation of a luckless white trespasser and the impaling of his head on a pole at the mouth of the creek.”

Lewis Evans of Philadelphia published a detailed map of the interior of the United States in 1755.[3]  The Evans map shows inscribed on the map the names “Weeling Creek” and “Weiling Island”, thusly these names were a given to the area of Wheeling[4] at that time.

Lewis Evans Map of the Middle British Colonies in North America 1755 circled is Weeling Creek and Weiling Island

Early on, the frontier community was often referred to as “Zanesburg, Virginia.”[5]  The Continental Congress officially recognized the name and spelling “Wheeling, Virginia” in 1776, and let us not forget; we were Wheeling, Virginia until we became Wheeling, West Virginia June 20, 1963.


John Bowman’s Sources…


[1] Source: Bowman, John, Boat Building Wheeling’s First Major Industry (The Zanes founding of Wheeling in 1769) Wheeling 2019

[2] Source: Norona, Delf, Wheeling A West Virginia Place-Name of Indian Origin; The definitive story of how Wheeling got its name, Publication No. 1, Oglebay Institute Mansion Museum Committee, Publication Series No. 4, West Virginia Archeological Society, Inc. Moundsville, W. Va. 1958

[3] Lewis Evans “Map of the Middle British Colonies in North America,” published in 1755  The Map shows circled “Weeling Creek” and “Weiling Island”

[4] George Washington’s Journal Oct. 24, 1770, “a creek called by Joseph Nicholson Wheeling” with an h.

[5] Source: Wingerter, Charles A., History of Greater Wheeling and Vicinity, Vols.  I and II.  The Lewis Publishing Co., Chicago and New York 1912.  Vol. I, Page 89

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