Because of a lack of swift communications like we have today, the last battle of the American Revolution was fought at Wheeling in September of 1782. Word that the war was over hadn't reached the hinterland and a band of 300 British and Indians attacked the town. They were defeated in two days of fighting.
Today, Wheeling is the seat of government for Ohio County, and is the center for industry and commerce in the Northern Panhandle. It sprawls in a T-shape over the Ohio River and Wheeling Creek, between and over sharp-rising hills and across Wheeling Island.
The city's industry manufactures steel, iron products, china, glassware, textiles, and paper products. Its downtown business district is so busy at times, that it is said to resemble a busy city in Ohio or Pennsylvania rather than a leisurely southern city.
In 1749 Capt. Celeron de Bienville was the first white man to pass through the area. He buried a lead plate claiming the Ohio River and all the land it drained for King Louis XV of France. John Brittle, who was captured by the Delaware Indians in 1791 and who lived with them for five years tells the story of how Wheeling got its name. Chief Hainguypooshies, which means "Big Cat," told him that the first white explorers were beheaded and their skulls placed on stakes at the mouth of the Wheeling Creek to warn off others. The spot became known as "Weeling," which means, "place of the skull." Later the white man added the letter "h."
The town was first settled in 1769 by the three Zane brothers: Col. Ebenezer, Jonathan, and Silas. They cleared the land, built cabins, and planted crops. They divided Wheeling Island into three tracts and divided among themselves much of the area where Wheeling stands today.
Fort Fincastle was built in 1774 to protect the settlers. In 1776 the fort was renamed Fort Henry for Patrick Henry, the first governor of Virginia. In 1793 Ebenezer Zane platted the town and a year later a post office was established with the name Zanesburg. The town was chartered in 1806 under the name Wheeling, and it became a collecting point for settlers heading west. It was incorporated as a city in 1836, and was proud to have a municipal water works and gas for lights. By an act of Congress in 1831 it was made a port of entry because of the flow of imports from its river trade. Sometimes the city is known as "Nail City," because of its ironworks.
Ohio County is in the Northern Panhandle, and is known for its coal, natural gas, iron, steel, and metal works. There are livestock, dairy and tobacco farms, and nurseries. Established in 1776, it was named for the county's principal river. The Indians called the river the "Great River" which roughly translated to "Ohio." Ohio County was one of the first counties in Virginia organized west of the Allegheny Mountains. It is a small county with only 109 square miles of area. The county was formed originally from the District of West Augusta (Virginia). This huge district included all the lands of old Virginia from the Blue Ridge west to the Mississippi River, embracing much of the territory of southwest Pennsylvania and most of Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. From the original territory at least 18 West Virginia counties and three Pennsylvania counties were carved as well as several states.