The Wetzels In Marshall County

Submitted by Phyllis Slater.

Captain John Wetzel, Sr. and Mary Bonnett Wetzel with their children, Martin, Christina, George, and Lewis left the South Branch of the Potomac in search of new opportunities. They settled along Big Wheeling Creek, which is now the Sand Hill District, in Marshall County. Later Fort Wetzel was built on this location.

The wagon train also included the ZANES, who established Wheeling, the BONNETTS, the EBERLYS and the ROSENCRANZE families who all settled in this area. History records show that all these men and sons were to become notable scouts and Indian fighters in the settlement of the Frontier.

Three more children were born to the Wetzel's after they settled in the Big Wheeling Creek area. They were; Jacob, Susannah, and John Jr.

Captain John Wetzel and his son Martin were in the battle of Point Pleasant in 1774. Martin was one of the soldiers who survived the Foreman Massacre near McMechen and was among the defenders of Fort Henry in 1777. Martin, his brother Lewis, and his dad Captain John Wetzel, were also among the defenders in the second attack on Fort Henry on September 11 - 13, 1782, against the British and the Indians, which is known as the last battle of the Revolutionary War. In 1782, Martin and Lewis were among the defenders of Fort Beeler against the Mohawk and Shawnee Indians.

Jacob became sheriff of Ohio County, Virginia in 1803 and in 1818, his family became the first settlers of Morgan County, Indiana.

Captain John Wetzel, Sr. was wounded by Indians near Captina in 1787 as he and a companion were paddling a canoe up the Ohio River returning from Middle Island Creek. He died soon after reaching the fort at Baker's Station, and he is buried there. His marker has been moved about two miles south to a road side park on W.Va State route 2.

Lewis was a folk hero to the white settlers as he was their protector from the Indians and was a deciding force in helping to settle this territory. He killed his first Indian at the age of 16 near St. Clairsville, Ohio. At the age of 17, he entered into his life's work of hunting Indians, being appointed a scout at an assembly in Wheeling by the settlers who needed protection for their homes and families. The only pay he received was the pleasure, if any, of hunting Indians and the satisfaction of serving his fellow man.

The skill he acquired in his youth of loading his muzzle loader at a full run and hitting his target, coupled with his cunning ways, was the deciding factor in his ability to kill every Indian he saw in revenge for the torture of his family members, including himself, and the killing of his father by the Indians.

The prize of Lewis Wetzel's scalp by the Indians was never achieved. While he was visiting a cousin in Natchez, Mississippi in 1808 he contacted a fever and died at the age of 44.

His remains were returned in 1942 to the McCreary Cemetery, located in Marshall County two miles from the Wetzel homestead, where his mother and brothers Martin and John Jr., are also buried. Compiled by Gerald T. Plants

From The History of Marshall County, West Virginia, 1984.