was created in 1846
and named for Lewis
Wetzel, famous frontier character and Indian fighter.
When the thirteen original states
were organized, the
County area fell within the area of
and remained a part of that state until the formation of
in 1863. The area was originally within the limits of Ohio County, which was
formed in 1776, and at that time included not only all of the panhandle, but
extended indefinitely westward and for a considerable distance to the south.
After the formation of the state of
became fixed by the
named in honor of
father, was formed from a part of
County, and included what is now
was created in 1846
from the northern part of
Northwestern Virginia", was born on the south branch of the
about 1764. He was
the second of four sons of John Wetzel who later lived at the mouth of
Wheeling Creek in
Lewis Wetzel's brothers and
Susan and Christina.
No man of the western border was more
dreaded as an enemy than Lewis Wetzel. He had been
tortured by the Indians and had vowed revenge on the Indians for the death
of his father, who was killed when Lewis was about 23 years of age near
Captina upon his return from Middle Island Creek.
a man without fear, Lewis Wetzel
was as brave as a
lion, cunning as a fox, "daring where daring was the wiser part, prudent
when discretion was valor's better self. For example, when about thirteen
years of age, Lewis and his brother, Jacob, were captured by the Indians
from their home and made prisoners. Lewis had been hit by a glancing shot
which carried away a small piece of his breastbone, leaving a painful wound.
Even at this tender age Lewis Wetzel was a true
adventurer, brave and cunning; he and Jacob tricked the Indians into
trusting them not to escape, then made their escape after the Indians fell
asleep without having the boys tied up.
several miles but,
realizing that they could not walk as far nor as fast as necessity decreed,
Lewis left Jacob in the forest, returned to the sleeping Indians, and made
off with their moccasins and a gun. The following day the boys reached the
at a point opposite Zanes'
having been taken more than
twenty miles downriver on the
reached safety the same day.
Universally regarded as one of the most
scouts and most practiced woodsmen
his day, Wetzel was frequently engaged by
who wanted to hunt and locate lands
were afraid of the Indians.
for months at a time, however, they felt
John Madison, brother of President James
employed Wetzel to go with him
the Kanawha region.
the habit of loading his gun while at
facilitated his efforts to obtain revenge
the Indians for the death of his father. The
with and his amazing personal appearance made Wetzel's scalp most prized
Having a very dark complexion, and wild
eyes, five feet ten inches tall, very erect,
across the shoulders, with an expansive
was a striking man. His hair was of
jetness and very luxuriant, reaching
combed out below his knees. Of course,
would have been a rare scalp for any
was formed by an act of the
was designated as the county seat.
first session of court was held in April
in a house owned by Sampson Thistle,
at the corner of
and Jefferson Streets.
In 1848, the ground now occupied by
Wetzel County Courthouse was deeded to
county for $1.00 by Presley and Margaret
for the purpose of building a court
The building was completed in 1852 and
used as a courthouse for 48 years when,
the early 1900's it was torn down and the lumber moved to
In 1902, the
courthouse was completed at a cost of
Early grand jury records disclose that nearly
indictments found in the early years were
assault and battery, riding in a horse race
a public road or for selling "bootleg" liquor.
Bar Association as its oldest member,
his presentation of a gavel to newly elected
James F. Shipman said: "The article
I am requested to present to you upon
occasion is an appropriate one. It is one
ancient and honorable use. It is the sincere
of this speaker that you will not have
to use it frequently. We assure you
we have not selected this particular article
which to express our welcome for the reason
we think you are, or ever will become, a
This article carries sentiment with it.
It brings back to fond memory to some of us
members of the bar, the little old square
its large brick pillars in front, its
cupola, its high rostrum and sawdust
of the courtroom, its stacks of old army muskets, silent reminders of the
carnage of former
days, stowed away in an upstairs room,
the rusted toys of Little Boy Blue, of the hundreds of swallows who annually
returned to build
mud nests under its projecting eaves. I
have no doubt, Sir,
but what you will always live up to the highest ideals, and the finest
traditions of the exalted office to which you have been elevated by voters
of this Circuit.
Please accept this mallet from the Wetzel County
Bar Association, in the spirit in which it is
given. It is made from timber of
our old Courthouse. Lift it with care, hammer
with caution, and may neither it nor the Court ever fly off the handle!"
in the northwestern part of the State of
It forms the base on which
Northern Panhandle rests. It is bounded on
north by Marshall County, West Virginia
on the east
Monongalia, Marion and Harrison counties,
on the south by Doddridge and
and on the west
is separated from
on the north by a portion of the historic
line. The county is
principally rolling, with slight hills. The surface
broken in some places by higher hills, which
assume considerable proportions
are steep. The lowest point, 588 feet above
level is in the southwestern corner of the
and the highest, 1,650
feet, at the summit of Honsocker Knob
the opposite corner.
fronts on the
thirteen miles. The largest tributary of
river in the county is Fishing Creek, the
basin of which lies within the area and
220 square miles. The remaining area
Fish Creek, which flows
and by several small
creeks and runs.
the county seat and chief
town, is located on the
has an altitude of 630 feet above sea level. By
road, it is 283 miles from
150 miles from
75 miles from
243 miles from Martinsburg and 38 miles from
in common with other
counties of the
Valley, has extensive
interests, and in addition it has for many years been one of the more
important oil and
Natural resources other than oil and gas have
not been developed, though coal at varying depths is present in many
sections of the county.
The industrial plants of the county are located in New Martinsville area.
These include glassware, sand and gravel plants
and lumber mills.