WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA’S First Official TOWN ‘CLOCK and BELL’ John Bowman 2018. Source: Bowman, John “Bills of Lading Freight on Board Wheeling West Virginia” 2012 Wheeling, WV page 152,

CLOCK History: In 1835, the first official Town ‘Clock‘ of the city of Wheeling, Virginia (West Virginia) was placed in the tower of the First Presbyterian Church built in 1831-1832 (rear addition 1854, remodeled 1871) on Chapline Street, Wheeling, Virginia. Redick McKee raised the money for its purchase and stated; “the clock was not some Yankee wooden clock, it had works of brass”. Many of Wheeling’s citizens had “argued against a town clock, since there were up to a dozen already in homes in the town and there was no necessity for it.” “Furthermore, since Messrs.’ A. or B. had a clock and by going to his home, only one or two squares distant, they could learn from him the time of day or night.” At first, the clock was not furnished with a bell loud enough to be heard farther than a few yards.

Wheeling’s First Presbyterian Church Photo courtesy Ohio County Public Library

BELL History: The steamboat Amazon completed at Wheeling, Virginia in 1839 had a roof bell placed on her by Redick McKee of McKee, Harding & Co. (McKee, Reddick with Harding, Richard W.) in 1837, forwarding and commission merchants at 32 Water Street, corner Monroe (Twelfth) Street. Richard W. Harding was the father of Rebecca Blaine Harding Davis, author of ‘Life in the Iron Mills’. The Harding family moved to Wheeling, Va. in 1837.
The bell imported by Redick McKee came to New York from Spain and bore the date 1690, J.H.S. (Jehu Hominis Salvador): the bell originally hung in a Spanish Convent. The bell was retired from the Amazon steamboat circa 1843, and Redick then bought it back at an increase in price. Circa 1843-1844, Redick placed the ‘BELL’ in the First Presbyterian Church tower and attached it to the town clock.
In 1876, the ‘Bell and Clock’ was removed from the church tower and placed into the tower of Wheeling’s new ‘West Virginia State Capitol Building’ erected at 16th and Chapline Streets. This 1876 ‘West Virginia State Capitol Building’ was the second ‘West Virginia State Capitol Building’; West Virginia’s first ‘State Capitol Building’ was Wheeling’s old 1859 ‘Linsly Institute’ building at 15th and Eoff Streets. West Virginia became a state June 20, 1863. The 1876 ‘State Capitol Building’ became Wheeling’s ‘City Hall’ and was torn down in 1956.

The CLOCK and BELL was placed in West Virginia’s new State Capitol Building / Wheeling City Hall Photo courtesy Ohio County Public Library

West Virginia’s first State Capitol Building, Wheeling, West Virginia. Photo courtesy the West Virginia Legislator website

Cranmer, Hon. Gibson Lamb, History of Wheeling City and Ohio County, West Virginia and Representative Citizens, Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill.1902 Pg. 170.
Newton, J.H. Editor, Nichols, G.G., Sprankle, A.G. History of the Pan-Handle, Being Historical Collections of the Counties of Ohio, Brooke, Marshall and Hancock, West Virginia J.A. Caldwell, Wheeling, W.Va. 1879 Pg. 212
Way, Frederick Jr. Way’s Packet Directory 1848-1983. Athens, Ohio: Sons & Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen, 1983 Pg. 18
Bowman, John Bills of Lading Freight on Board Wheeling, WV 2012 Pg. 152

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