Wheeling

Joanne C. Sullivan

On a sunny day in early September, hundreds of Wheeling residents, state lawmakers, and the Pride of West Virginia, West Virginia University’s marching band, all came out to Main St. in Wheeling to celebrate an important milestone in the city’s history: 250 years.


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, celebrations in the Northern Panhandle have been ongoing this year in the town of Wheeling – where the state of West Virginia was born. Also, in this show, we bring you a report from StateImpact Pennsylvania on shale gas imports to Scotland.

December 13, 1926: Wheeling Radio Station WWVA Goes On The Air

Dec 13, 2019
In 1933, WWVA launched a program that would become a mainstay. The Wheeling Jamboree was broadcast to 17 other states and six Canadian provinces.
E-WV

Wheeling radio station WWVA went on the air on December 13, 1926. The 50-watt station broadcast from the basement of John Stroebel, a physics teacher and wireless pioneer. By November of the next year, WWVA had established studios in a Wheeling office building and boosted its power to 500 watts, which, on some nights, could transmit its signal halfway around the world. Early programming on the station included contemporary recorded music, informal announcements, music by local amateurs, and children’s shows.

  

Caitlin Tan / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Flea markets are a common feature across rural landscapes, especially in Appalachia. If you have never been, there is typically something for everyone, and one West Virginian artist is turning the unique finds into art. 

“Sometimes it’s the imagery. A portion of my work has an industrial aspect to it, and I don’t mean just the materials, but the imagery,” Robert Villamagna said.


Capitol of West Virginia, 1875-85
West Virginia State Archives

On December 4, 1876, West Virginia’s third capitol building was dedicated in Wheeling. The stone building was four stories tall with two wings and topped by a cupola.

October 24, 1861: Voters Approve State of West Virginia

Oct 24, 2019
Many western Virginia residents had few options because the U.S. Constitution forbids any state to be carved from another state without the original state’s approval.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / 1872, Western Virgnia, Reorganized Government of Virginia

On October 24, 1861, voters formally approved the formation of West Virginia. Many western Virginia residents had been frustrated with the Virginia state government for years. But, they had few options at their disposal because the U.S. Constitution forbids any state to be carved from another state without the original state’s approval.

The Virginia state government in Richmond would not have willingly given away one-third of its territory. But, when Virginia left the Union at the beginning of the Civil War, western Virginia politicians seized their window of opportunity.

Magnus Manske / wikimedia Commons

A West Virginia mayor is asking state officials to reopen a suspension bridge.

Officials closed the Wheeling Suspension Bridge indefinitely last month due to vehicles crossing that exceeded the weight limit.

"Blockade of Engines at Martinsburg, West Virginia," an engraving on front cover of "Harper's Weekly, Journal of Civilization," Vol XXL, No. 1076, New York, Saturday, August 11, 1877.
Public Domain

On July 18, 1877, Governor Henry Mathews arrived in Martinsburg—on the scene of the first nationwide strike in U.S. history. Baltimore and Ohio Railroad workers had walked off the job in response to a pay cut. The strike soon spread along the rails from Baltimore to Chicago.

July 16, 1891: General Benjamin Kelley Dies

Jul 16, 2019

Civil War General Benjamin Kelley died in Maryland on July 16, 1891, at age 84. The New Hampshire native had moved to Wheeling in 1836, working as a merchant there for more than two decades. In 1851, he became freight agent for the newly arrived Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

Dolly Sods, spruce trees, landscape of valley below
Chad Matlick / WVPB

Our most recent Wild Wondering West Virginia question came from Wheeling resident Brian Joseph. He wanted to know about the Appalachian Mountains and their sister mountains, and how they shape who we are.

“Sometimes we forget. We think we are who we are, but remember even our state motto: Montani Semper Liberi - which is, mountaineers will always be free.”

June 21, 1920: Wheeling Steel Created

Jun 21, 2019
Wheeling Steel
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

One June 21, 1920, the LaBelle Iron Works, Whitaker-Glessner, and Wheeling Steel & Iron Works combined to form the Wheeling Steel Corporation.

June 19, 1786: Indian Ambush Changes Lewis Wetzel's Life

Jun 19, 2019
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On June 19, 1786, a tragic hunting trip changed pioneer Lewis Wetzel’s life forever. Wetzel, his father, and two brothers ventured out from their home near Wheeling and were ambushed by Indians. The attackers killed his father and one brother and badly wounded the other brother.

This Week in West Virginia History.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online.

On June 13, 1861, a committee led by John Carlile of Clarksburg presented a Declaration of Rights of the People of Virginia to the Second Wheeling Convention.

The convention was the first major step toward West Virginia statehood, and the declaration is perhaps the most significant document in our state’s history.

Patrick Semansky / AP Photo

Three priests have resigned from their high-ranking positions in West Virginia, according to a press release from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. 


May 31, 2008: Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy Graduates Last Class

May 31, 2019
e-WV Encyclopedia

The Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy in Wheeling graduated its last class of students on May 31, 2008. 

Glynis Board / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A group of community members in the Northern Panhandle want to address gaps in the mental health care system. Residents met at West Virginia Northern Community College Thursday to learn about mental illness and discuss an unconventional plan to help those suffering in their community.


May 1, 1879: Jack Glasscock Makes Major League Debut

May 1, 2019
Jack Glasscock
Public Domain

Jack Glasscock—one of the best shortstops in history—made his major league debut on May 1, 1879, with the Cleveland Blues. He was born in Wheeling in 1859 and learned to play baseball on the sandlots of his hometown.

He earned the nickname “Pebbly Jack” due to his habit of picking up and tossing away pebbles in the field—and some baseball historians think the pebbles were just a figment of Jack’s imagination.

As a Union officer, he fought, was captured, and made a daring escape during the Confederate raid on Guyandotte in Cabell County in November 1861.
e-WV / WV Humanities Council

On April 23, 1861, Union loyalists from Virginia’s 11th District elected Kellian Whaley to the U.S. House of Representatives, replacing former Congressman Albert Gallatin Jenkins, who’d stepped down to support the Confederacy.

The vote came just six days after Virginia had voted to secede from the Union at the start of the Civil War.

Whaley, a native of upstate New York, had moved to near the present site of Ceredo in Wayne County in 1842. A lumber dealer by trade, Whaley was one of five pro-Union congressmen who represented Virginia in the 37th Congress.

People wait in line to bet on the NCAA college basketball tournament at the Westgate Superbook sports book Thursday, March 15, 2018, in Las Vegas. Sports Betting.
AP Photo / John Locher

Sports wagering will remain offline at two West Virginia casinos at the start of the NCAA Tournament.

Corey Knollinger / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia’s small but active hip-hop community is striving to normalize hip-hop as an art form. The YWCA in Wheeling recently held an event called Hip Hop: A Black Tie Affair to help bring legitimacy to the community in the Northern Panhandle.  

 


 

January 28, 1937: Worst Recorded Flooding Occurs Along the Ohio River

Jan 28, 2019
Nobody living between Huntington and Parkersburg had ever seen anything like the 1937 flood, which was brought on by melting snow and 19 straight days of rain.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online.

On January 28, 1937, the Ohio River crested in Huntington nearly 20 feet above flood stage. Days earlier, it’d crested at the same level in Parkersburg and 10 feet above flood stage in Wheeling.

December 24, 1852: B&O Railroad Completed Near Moundsville

Dec 24, 2018
When West Virginia statehood leaders carved out the new state’s borders, the eastern panhandle counties were included primarily to keep the B&O in West Virginia and outside of Confederate Virginia.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / e-WV

On Christmas Eve 1852, the last spike was driven on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad between Baltimore and the Ohio River. The event occurred at Rosbys Rock near Moundsville.

December 18, 1842: Senator Nathan B. Scott Born

Dec 18, 2018
Nathan B. Scott quickly amassed a fortune in business and banking. He then moved to nearby Wheeling, where he accumulated even more wealth as president of the Central Glass Company. He also made hefty sums of money in the coal industry
The Humanities Council

Businessman and U.S. Senator Nathan B. Scott was born in Ohio on December 18, 1842. From a meager start as a boy working in a general store, he eventually would become one of the four richest men in West Virginia.

November 12, 1844: Wheeling Businessman Henry Schmulbach Born

Nov 12, 2018
Schmulbach was one of many German immigrants who turned Wheeling into an important brewing center in the late 1800s.
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / Wheeling, Henry Schmulbach, Nail City Brewery, Schmulbach Brewing, Mozart Park, The Wheeling Bridge Company

Henry Schmulbach was born in Germany on November 12, 1844. When he was a child, he and his family immigrated to Wheeling. By the time he was a young adult, Schmulbach had become one of the city’s most successful businessmen, selling retail groceries and wholesale liquor.

In 1881, he purchased Wheeling’s Nail City Brewery. The next year, he changed its name to Schmulbach Brewing and increased the plant’s annual output to 200,000 barrels of beer. Schmulbach was one of many German immigrants who turned Wheeling into an important brewing center in the late 1800s.

The television translator for WVPB in the Wheeling viewing area is offline and could be out for several weeks while engineers look for a solution.

Dave McClanahan, WVPB’s chief engineer, said the translator is irreparable. “Parts and technical support for this model are not available,” McClanahan said. “There is no reasonable way to fix the translator and parts from other manufacturers won’t work.”

September 13, 1910: Jazz Musician Leon "Chu" Berry Born

Sep 13, 2018
Leon "Chu" Berry performed with Fletcher Henderson, Bessie Smith, Benny Carter, and many others.
E-WV

Musician Leon “Chu” Berry was born in Wheeling on September 13, 1910. He became one of the most highly regarded saxophonists of the Swing Era, ranking alongside Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young.

At West Virginia State College (now University), Berry performed with the Edwards Collegians and other regional groups.

September 10, 1782: Betty Zane Resupplies Fort Henry

Sep 10, 2018
e-WV

On September 10, 1782, Betty Zane entered American history and folklore with her daring dash to resupply Wheeling’s Fort Henry. Her courageous act supposedly took place during one of the last battles of the American Revolutionary War—nearly a year after the British surrender at Yorktown but before the peace treaty had been finalized.

August 28, 1894: Publisher, Diplomat William Cooper Howells Dies at 87

Aug 28, 2018
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Publisher and diplomat William Cooper Howells died on August 28, 1894, at age 87.

The native of Wales emigrated as a child with his family to Wheeling.

At 21, Howells began working as an apprentice typesetter at the Virginia Statesman, a Wheeling newspaper. Before starting two Wheeling newspapers of his own, he worked at the print shop of Alexander Campbell, founder of Bethany College and the Disciples of Christ religious denomination.

August 23, 1891: Congressman Chester Hubbard Died

Aug 23, 2018
Congressman Chester Hubbard
e-WV / WV Humanitites Council

Congressman, businessman, and state founder Chester Hubbard died in Wheeling on August 23, 1891, at age 76. The Connecticut native moved with his family to Wheeling as a child.

Hubbard joined his father’s lumber mill business and helped develop Wheeling as an iron and steel manufacturing center. He was president of the German Bank of Wheeling; the Pittsburgh, Wheeling & Kentucky Railroad; and C. D. Hubbard and Company.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

In a referendum on August 7, 1877, West Virginia voters chose Charleston to be the permanent state capital. The capital’s location had become a running joke, as government records had been moved from Wheeling to Charleston and then back to Wheeling again, all in 14 years.The capital was on the move so much on West Virginia riverboats, it earned the nickname of “the floating capital.”

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