Typed by E. J. Heinemann.
SETTLEMENT AND ORGANIZATION OF OHIO COUNTY
Between the years 1764 and 1774, comparative peace between the Indians and the whites prevailed along the borders of Virginia owing to the chastisement inflicted upon the former in the first named year, which was followed by the treaty entered into at Fort Pitt in the year 1765. But in the year 1774 the comparative quiet that had prevailed was interrupted, and for a time the tide of immigration which had set in to the western portion of Virginia and Pennsylvania was checked. Perhaps the whites were as much to blame for the disturbance of this quiet as the Indians. But doubtless the primary cause is to be found in the extension of the white settlements into the Indian country.
It was about this time also that the differences between the mother country and the colonies began to assume shape and in the year 1775 had in some of the colonies culminated in open acts of defiance. Indeed, in this last named year the quarrel between the two had become so pronounced that all hopes of a satisfactory adjustment had been abandoned.
The House of Burgesses had been dissolved, and the royal governor (Dunmore), with his wife and children, had abandoned the capital. These last named had taken refuge on a British vessel lying in the harbor, on which they shipped for England, while he himself repaired to a British man-of-war then lying in the waters of Virginia, and from which he issued his innocuous edicts and proclamations to his recalcitrant subjects.
In the meantime a convention of authorized delegates from different portions of Virginia had been summoned to meet on the 20th day of March,1775. Upon their assembling, they enacted such legislation and exercised such executive control over public affairs as the public safety demanded and the exigencies of the hour required. One of the first things in the early part of the session of this body which demanded attention was a letter received from a number of the inhabitants of West Augusta requesting the admission of John Neville and John Harvie, Esqs., as delegates from that district to represent the interests of the settlers in the convention. The request was promptly acceded to, and thereupon they were admitted and took their seats as members and participated in all the proceedings of the body.
The boundaries of West Augusta, as passed by an Act of the General Assembly in 1776, were as follows: "Beginning on the Alleghany Mountains between the heads of Potomack, Cheat and Greenbrier Rivers: thence along the ridge of mountains which divides the waters of Cheat River from those of Greenbrier, and that branch of the Monongahela River called Tygart's Valley River to the Monongahela River; thence up the said river and the west fork thereof to Bingamon's Creek, on the north west of the said west fork; thence in a direct course to the head of Middle Island Creek, a branch of the Ohio, and thence to the Ohio including all the waters of the aforesaid creek, in the aforesaid district of West Augusta, all that territory lying to the northward of the aforesaid boundary, and to th westward of the states Pennsylvania and Maryland, shall be deemed and is hereby declared to be within the district of West Augusta.
Within the above mentioned limits was embraced the entire territory of the present section known as the Panhandle, also Greene and Washington counties in the state of Pennsylvania, and portions of Allegheny and Beaver counties in the same state. By a section of the same act, three counties, to-wit, Ohio, Monongahela and Yohogania, were formed out of this district.
The boundaries of Ohio county were defined to be as follows: "Beginning at the mouth of Cross Creek, thence up the same to the head thereof; thence southeastwardly to the nearest part of the ridge which divides the waters of the Ohio from those of the Monongahela; thence aslong said ridge to the line which divides the county of Augusta from the said district; thence with the said boundary to the Ohio; thence up the same to the beginning."
The counties names were the first which were organized in the Ohio Valley. The original area of Ohio county was 1,432 square miles; but owing to the formation of new counties out of its original territory, its area has been decreased, and it now contains about 113 square miles. By the same act, provision was made for a meeting of the landholders of the new county for the purpose of selecting the most convenient place for holding courts in the new county.
In compliance with the provisions of said Act of the General Assembly, and of certain instructions addressed to him, John McColloch, Esq., summoned the landholders within the county to convene, on the 27th day of December, 1776, at the cabin of Ezekiel Dewitt, Esq., situated on Buffalo Creek, for the purpose of electing and constituting a committee in said county, and also to make choice of a place where county courts were to be held in future in said county. The convention met at the time and place mentioned, and by a vote of the majority of those present decided in favor of Black's Cabin, situated on the water of Short Creek.
The present site of West Liberty was originally improved by Abraham Vanmetre. His daughter Ruth married Reuben Foreman, and another daughter named Hannah married Providence Mounts. Foreman and Mounts laid out the town of West liberty, which was organized November 20, 1787. It was the first town organized in the Ohio Valley.
When Absalom Ridgely, one of the early settlers, came from Baltimore to West Liberty he is said to have brought with him a pack horse ladened with a small stock of goods adapted to the wants of the settlers. Upon his arrival he opened his packages of merchandise and displayed it for sale on a stump. At that early day there were no stores in which trade and buying and selling was carried on, as the wants of the people were few and simple, and they produced almost everything they needed. The advent of Ridgely, however, with his stock of goods was an experience to which the settlers before were strangers, and in a short time he succeeded in disposing of his stock. The venture proved to be so successful that he repeated it again and again until in time it became a regular and established business with him.
Prominent among the early settlers of the town and its vicinity we find the names of Benjamin Biggs, George McColloch, James Caldwell, John Boggs, Moses Chapline, John McColloch, John Wilson, Solomon Hedges, John Williamson, Zachariah Sprigg, James McMechen, Alexander Mitchell, Absalom and Daniel Harris.
Black's Cabin, which stood on the site of West Liberty, was so called from having been erected by an individual of that name who came to that portion of the county some time between the years 1770 and 1772, having emigrated from Berkeley county, Virginia. He was an apprentice to Abraham Vanmetre, of the same county and state, and was by him sent here to this section of the state to select and locate land, and to take the necessary measures for "establishing a claim." The superior character of the country in this neighborhood attracted his attention, and he resolved upon locating here and making his claim; hence he proceeded to erect a cabin on the land he proposed to "take up." Blazing the trees, which was done by chipping out a piece and cutting the initials of the claimant's name in the bark, constituted what was called at that day a "tomahawk right."
Among the pioneers such claims were sacredly recognized and respected, and no one dared to infringe upon them. Customs thus established became precedents and were clothed with all the sanctity of law. Sometimes years would elapse before the proprietors would apply to the state for patents confirming their titles to the land thus taken up by them.
Black had been here but a short time when a Morgan, of Berkeley county, sent out James Curtis on a similar errand to that on which Black was sent. The tract located by this person still goes by the name of the Morgan farm, and is the same on which his descendants have continued to reside since. Black and Curtis, together with one Hood, who had come out about the time that Curtis had or shortly after, became close companions, for the sake of mutual protection.
On one occasion provisions had grown scarce, and it was necessary to obtain a fresh supply; it was arranged among them that two of their number, Black and Hood, should go to Redstone Fort for this purpose, while Curtis was to remain behind and exercise general surveillance over the respective possessions of the party. On leaving they told Curtis that should they fail to return by a day named he might conclude that they had been waylaid by the savages and had fallen victims to their fury, or been carried away as captives by them, and for him to take such precautionary measures for his own safety as might be deemed proper.
After the lapse of a long and weary time of waiting for their return, the day fixed for it having long passed, supposing that they had been captured and becoming apprehensive for his own safety, Curtis decided to abandon his trust and go to Redstone Fort and ascertain if possible the fate of his friends. There, too, he reasoned, he would be more secure. Carefully fastening the door and openings of the cabin, he wrote with a charred stick upon the door the announcement that he had departed for Redstone Fort, so that in the event of the unexpected return of the two, they would be advised as to his whereabouts, and thus his absence would be explained.
He therefore set out upon his solitary tramp through the wilderness, and had nearly reached the Monongahela River, when to his surprise he unexpectedly met his friends. The surprise was mutual, and was followed by an explanation of their long delay. It appears that, having obtained the provisions they went in search of, on their return journey they spent some days in the pursuit of game. In the eagerness and excitement of the chase they had lost the trail and had become involved in the mazes of the forest and had wandered about for several days unable to recover it. Curtis assured them that they were then in the right way, and with exuberant spirits they retraced their steps in company, glad at the prospect of once again reaching their cabin.
A short time after this occurrence Curtis became dissatisfied and was anxious to return to Berkeley county. Having determined to leave, he was not long engaged in making the necessary arrangements for his departure. Gathering together his household articles and utensils, he strapped them upon the back of his cow and commenced his toilsome and lonely journey. After experiencing many trials he had nearly completed half the distance when he met his Master, Mr. Morgan, on his way out with an abundant supply of provisions, ammunition and various useful commodities. He was compelled by Morgan to face about and return with him, greatly to his disgust and disappointment.
This portion of the county was known as the "Short Creek Country,"and because of the fertility of its soil, the abundance and variety of its timber, and the quantity and quality of its game, and the plentiful supply of excellent water, it held out strong inducements to such as were seeking homes in the Western country. It was principally settled by Virginians, Marylanders and Pennsylvanians, who brought with them the manners and customs of the sections whence they emigrated.
At the outbreak of the Revolution the name West Liberty was substituted for Black's Cabin, and was so called from its extreme western location and from that love of liberty which patriotism had implanted in the breasts of these brave and hardy pioneers. This cabin was located in the vicinity of a spring known at that day and later as Wells' Spring, and which has been walled up and protected by its present proprietor, Mr. Foreman, a resident of West Liberty, in said county. The place thus selected was deemed to be most accessible for those residing in the different portions of the county.
At the session of the court held on the 16th day of January, 1777, the oaths of office were administered to David Shepherd, Silas Hedges, William Scott and James Caldwell by James McMechen, Esq., who had been duly appointed and instructed for that purpose under and by virtue of a writ of dedimus potestatem, which was directed by the Governor to William Scott, James McMechen and David Rogers, authorizing either of them to act in the premises.
After his qualification David Shepherd proceeded to administer the same oath to the following named persons, to-wit: Zachariah Sprigg, Thomas Waller and Daniel McClain, as justices, who, having respectively qualified, took their seats on the bench. They then proceeded to the appointment of a high sheriff for the county, the lot falling upon John McColloch, Esq., who tendered John Mitchell and Samuel McColloch, his brother, as his sureties in his official bond for the faithful discharge of his duties as sheriff, who were accepted as good and sufficient, whereupon the bond was duly executed in open court. At the same time he was required to enter into an additional bond in the pe nalty of L 1,000 conditioned for his faithfully collecting and duly accounting for all officers' fees, monies, etc., which might come into his hands. The sureties in this last mentioned bond were the same as on the former, with the addition of James McMechen. Thereupon the oath of office was administered to him in open court and he was installed in his new position, that of the first sheriff of Ohio county. They then proceeded to the choice of a clerk, and James McMechen being approved of for that office he took the necessary oath and was duly inducted into the same.
With a view of regulating and disciplining the militia of the county, the court resolved that "David Shepherd be recommended to his Honor the Governor as county lieutenant, Silas Hedges, Esq., as colonel, David McLure as lieutenant-colonel, and Samuel McCulloch as major of militia." On the following day the court made a further recommendation of the appointment of nine captains, nine ensigns and nine lieutenants, together with several constables. "On the same day the court made the following order: Ordered that Capt. Samuel Meason, Lieut. Ebenezer Zane, James McConnell and Conrad Wheat, being first duly sworn, do view the best and most direct way for the laying out of a road from Fort Henry (Wheeling) to the first fork of Wheeling, and due return make to the next county court." This road followed nearly the line of the present National Road for a greater part of the distance, which was six miles.
At the March term following, steps were taken looking toward the erection of a court house, as appears from the following extract from the record: "The court, taking into consideration the expediency of having a court house erected, it is ordered that a house for that purpose be erected, of the following dimensions and conveniences, viz,: A diamond cornered house of dimensions 22 by 18 feet in the clear, one story and one-half high, a floor above and below of hard or sawn plank, ten joists in the upper floor, nine or ten feet high in the lower story, court's bench and clerk's table; two windows of eight lights each 8 by 10 inches, a pair of stairs, and cabin roof; a plain door, and hinges of iron: likewise plain window shutters with iron hinges also. A jail 20 by 16 feet on the outside; the logs of the wall to be round and close laid, the loft, floors and partition to be of logs squared to eight inches thickness; two rounds of logs above the loft, cabin roofed doors and windows agreeable, a stone chimney with iron grates; the doors done with nails: locks sufficient; the loft and floor to have each a large beam supporting them in the middle, and of having the aforementioned buildings completed as soon as possible agreeable to the aforesaid dimensions, it is ordered that John McColloch, high sheriff, put the same up at public auction to the lowest undertaker."
The persons heretofore named, and the officers, before mentioned as having been recommended the Governor for appointment to different positions, having been approved by him, and the approval having been certified to the court, were duly commissioned and severally appeared at the June term, 1777, and qualified by taking their respective oaths of office.
Owing to the unsettled condition of affairs on the border, occasioned by the depredations committed by the savages, and the cruel and relentless warfare waged between them and the whites, the conduct of local affairs to a great extent was made subordinate to the exercise of supervision and control of the military; hence the supremacy of civil power and authority were compelled to yield to the exigencies of the hour. The sessions of the court, therefore, because of the existence of these troubles, were suspended during the period covering the interval between the month of June, 1777, and the 6th day of April, 1778, on which last named date the court reassembled and resumed its judicial functions.
The members of the court being jealous of the infringement of their authority and dignity as they regarded, and smarting under the feeling that their rights had been disregarded, and that the court had been treated with contempt in not having been consulted by the military authorities before the declaration of martial law in the county, determined to vindicate what they considered as the outraged majesty of the law, and therefore on the second day of its session cited Colonel Shepherd, the county commandant, to appear at its bar and purge himself of contempt, the specific charge against him being that during the interval between the above named periods he had, contrary to all precendents, established martial law in the county, without having first advised with the court as to the necessity for adopting such a measure. The Colonel, in justification of his conduct, insisted that exigencies had arisen which required promptness in meeting, and that any delay would have proved disastrous to the settlers; that the dangers threatening the public safety were imminent and had to be met on the spur of the moment, and disavowed any disrespect to the members of the court, and that he humbly apologized if the court was of the opinion that under the circumstances he had failed in extending to them that courtesy which was due to them as the representatives of civil law and the conservators of the public peace. The explanation offered by Shepherd and the extenuating circumstances, and the firm yet submissive bearing of the officer, disarmed their criticism of his conduct, and he was honorably dismissed without so much as a reprimand.
At the November term of court, in 1778, the number of tithables in the county was returned as 352. The poll tax was fixed at 20 shillings, and the sheriff was instructed to collect double that sum from all tithables "who refused to take the oath of allegiance to the commonwealth."
FIRST PURCHASE OF PUBLIC GROUND, FOR COURT HOUSE AT WEST LIBERTY.
Know all men by these presents that I, Abraham Vanmetre of Bartlay (Berkeley) County & Colony of Virginia, do bargain and sell for the Consideration of Twenty pounds paid when Levy'd of the County Current money to the Court of Ohio County & Successors a Lot of Land Containing of Two acres which I claim Lying of the Head of the Northerly Fork of Short Creek Known by Black's Cabin Boun'd as follows. Beginning at a white oak standing near the head of a spring and Running thence N. 50 W. 20 pole to a stake thence south 34 W 16 pole to a stake thence south 34W. 16 pole to a stake, thence S. 56 East 20 p. to a stake N. 34 E 16. p. to the Beginning. Containing Two acres Land for the Use publick of the s'd county. I do hereby Bind myself, my Heirs & assigns and forever Quit my Claim for the above two acres, as witness my hand & seal this sixth day of March one thousand seven hundred and seventy-seven.
Abraham Vanmetre [Seal]
Interlined Before signed.
Witnesses, Andrew Fouts,
Acknowledged in open court, Ordered to be Recorded.
Test: James McMechen, C. C.
THE FIRST WILL
Virginia, Ohio County, May 18, 1777.
This my last Will and Testament I doth give and bequeath unto George McColloch, Jr., two certain servays lying and being on the waters of Buffalo Creek, with all the improvements and conveniences belonging to the said Surveys of Land. I also give and bequeath a certain Bay Mare unto Rebeckah McColloch. I give and bequeath a certain Roan filly Colt unto Jane McColloch. I further give and bequeath a certain Bay horse unto Silas McColloch, and my Cow and Calf with my hogs I give to George McColloch, Sr., and desire the said McColloch may sell the aforementioned Cattle and hogs to pay all my just and Lawfull debts, and I leave the said McColloch, Sr., Executor. In Witness hereto I have set my hand the day and year above written. N. B. And I leave the said George McColloch Executor, these words is Interlined above.
Thomas Y Newbury
Signed in the presence of Charles Wells,
Proven in open court by Joseph Wells and Edward Perine two of the
Subscribing Evidences to the said Will and ordered to be Recorded.
Test: James McMechen, C. C.
SECOND DEED RECORDED.
Know all Men by these presents, that I, William Hawkins of the one part, and John Wilson of the other part, witnesseth that the said Hawkins for , and in Consideration of one hundred pounds curret. Money of Penlyl to him in hand paid the Receipt of which he doth hereby acknowledge, hath granted, Bargained and sold, and firmly by these presents doth grant, Bargain and sell unto the said Jno. Wilson, all that tract or parcel of Land lying on the waters of Short Creek, Beginning at a Bounded tree Between the said Hawkins and Daniel Harris and extending up the River Ohio to Glen's line and with the said line to Short Creek and with said Creek to Harris' Run and up said run until it strikes Harris's line and with said line until said Beginning Tree all which land with the improvements thereunto Belonging I do hereby Warrant and Defend from all person or persons to be held by him the said Wilson or his assigns in peaceable possession the Lord of the soil only excepted as witness my hand this day of February, 1773, the word (river) interlined before signed.
Witnesses present: John Wills, David McLure.
Rec'd this 28th day of January 1777, the above mentioned sum of one
hundred pounds, with interest in full of the above Mentioned Land as
witness my hand.
Test: James McMechen
The above was acknowledged in open court and ordered to be put upon
Test: James McMechen, C. C.
RETRACTION OF LIBEL
This is to Certify that I the subscriber did some time ago advertise John Hanly to have taken a black mare from me Clandistinly; I do now with sorrow and Reluctance own now the said advertisement to be false and groundless. Given under my hand this 3rd day of April, 1778,
Witness present John Williamson,
The above was proven in open court by John Williamson and James Caldwell Esqrs., two of the witnesses being Evidences.
Test: James McMechen, C. C.
SPINNING WHEELS EXCHANGED FOR LAND
Know all men by these presents that I, Isaac Taylor for and in consideration of the sum of one hundred good and Merchantal Lining Spinning wheels to me in hand paid by George Coridders the said Receipt I do acknowledge myself satisfied. Therewith doth grant, bargain and sell unto the said Coriddors the place where I now live on with all improvements thereon and doth warrant and defend the same with two hundred acres thereunto belonging unto the said George Coridors his heirs and assigns from all persons the Lord of the soil only Excepted in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and Seal this 19th day of June, 1778.
Tests: James Gillespie,
The above was acknowledged in open court, and ordered to be recorded.
Test: James McMechen, C. C.
SETTLEMENT OF BOUNDARY BETWEEN OHIO AND YOUGHIOGHENY COUNTIES
We the Commissioners of Yohogany and Ohio Counties Respectively appointed as per order of the Respective Courts may most indisputably appear to ascertain the Boundary Line between the aforesaid Counties agreeably to the act General Assembly in that case made and provided in Compliance with which we proceed to the business and do find as follows, viz: Beginning at the mouth of Cross Creek thence by the several Meanders thereof until the Confluance of the two Branches Known by the name of Shearers and McCoogine Branches thence up the aforesaid McCoogine branch until the head thereof about half a mile South of Wm. Price'' new dwelling house thence South 33, E., to the nearest part of the Ridge that divides the waters of Monongahely from those of Ohio to a Blas'' and Corner mark'' stake in testimony of which we have hereunto affixed our hands this 22nd day of August, 1778.
Isaac Leet, Jr.,
BILL OF SALE
1780, Ohio County, State of Virginia:
James Wells bought of John Wells, October 20th: To one negro boy named Dick L 100: 1 negro girl named Poll L 60: 3 feather beds with their furniture L 10: 1 wagon and geere L 10.
Received October the twentieth 1789 of James Wells the sum of one hundred and seventy pounds, it being full satisfaction for the above amount and pay received by
John Wells, Witness,
Ohio County, State of Virginia on this 20th day of October 1789
personally appeared before me one of the Justices for said County the
above named John Wells acknowledged the above bill of articles on
Negroes to be the Right title and property of the above named Richard
Acknowledged before me, Richard Wells.
A true copy from the Oridginal. The above bargain and Sail was
Proven to Court by Richard Wells, the Subscribing witness at November
Term 1789 and ordered to be recorded.
Test: Moses Chapline, Clk.
FIRST MARRIAGE LICENSE
I do hereby Certify that I have this day solemnized the Right of
Marriage between Mr. John McIngtur (McIntyre properly) and Miss Sarah
Zane aggreeable to an act of assembly in such case made and provided.
Witness my hand this 11th day of January 1790.
A copy, Test. Moses Chapline, Cl'k
At the succeeding court 16 persons were fined for retailing liquors without license, and nine persons were fined for one oath or as common swearers. a certain person was ordered to be imprisoned three months for speaking disrespectfully of the court and as being disaffected toward the commonwealth.
RATES FOR ORDINARY KEEPERS
On June 6, 1780, the court proceeded to settle the rate for ordinary keepers, viz.: "For half pint of whiskey, $6: for a breakfast or supper, $4: for one dinner, $6; for lodging with clean sheets, $3; for one horse to hay one night, $6; for pasturage one night, $3; for one gallon of corn, $5; for one gallon of oats, $4: for half pint of whiskey with sugar, $8; for one quart of strong beer, $4."
On August 8, 1780, the ordinary keepers were ordered to sell at the following rates, viz: "For half pint of whiskey, $6; for half pint of whiskey with sugar, $8; for breakfast or supper, $6; for dinner, $10; for lodgings with clean sheets, $3; for one horse to hay twenty-four hours, $6; for pasturage twenty-four hours, $3; for gallon of corn, $5; for one quart strong beer, $4."
The foregoing is to be understood as the tariff of prices in continental currency.
On May 3, 1784, the court ordered the following rates: " For breakfast or supper, IS. 3d.; dinner, IS.6d,; half pint whiskey, 9 d." The preceding year the treaty of peace had been signed between Great Britain and the United States.
A large amount of money was expended by the court for bounties on wolves' heads, the amount paid being at the rate of 15 shillings per head.
From an entry in the order book made at the June term of court in 1793, we infer that the original court house had fulfilled the purpose of its erection, and therefore that a new one was found to be necessary, as follows: "The court having taken into consideration the propriety of building in the town of West Liberty for the use of Ohio county, and whereas a plan of said house having been produced to court for their consideration, the court, after examining said plan, approved of the same, and do order that the sheriff of this county do advertise in the Pittsburg Gazette, and at four of the most public places in the county immediately that the building said house will be set up at public sale in the town of West Liberty the 27th inst. (June) and sold to the lowest bidder, taking bond with sufficient security, payable to the present court and their successors, for the use of Ohio county, in the penal sum of L 1,000 from said purchaser that he will complete the said house within eighteen months from the date thereof, and the said court also ordered that whatever the building said court house is sold for shall be laid in the county levy at the November term next except L 100 which has been heretofore laid for the purpose of being appropriated toward building a court house and now lays in the hands of John Boggs, late sheriff, which is to be considered for the use aforesaid, and that the said sum be paid to the said purchaser, when he shall have completed his said contract except the aforesaid sum of L 100, which sum or so much as remains in the aforesaid Boggs's hands unappropriated shall be paid by said Boggs to the aforesaid purchaser, as soon as the court can collect the same from the said Boggs, and that said court house be built on Liberty street in the aforesaid town about the space of six feet north of the present court house." John Henderson came into court and entered his protest to the above order.
It appears, however, that there was a hitch in carrying out the foregoing order, and that then as now, all officials were not trustworthy and sometimes forfeited the public confidence reposed in them, for at the following term of court, held in the same year, in the month of July, the following entry was made:
"Whereas, it appears that Andrew Archbold, deputy sheriff, and Isaac Meek, Esq., from the testimony given in court this day by Richard Brown and Charles Prather, has acted improperly in conducting the contract or sale for the court house in said county, we therefore order the proceedings for building said court house shall be stopped and delayed until further order of said court, and we also order that a summons shall issue for said Archbold to appear at August court next to show cause why an information should not be filed against him for a misdemeanor in his conduct as aforesaid."
We find, however, from the records that from the time of making the foregoing order no active measures were taken for the erection of the court house, but at a term of court held on the 5th of June, 1797, the following entry appears among the proceedings of that day:
"Ordered that the commissioners who were appointed on behalf of the county to erect public buildings at West Liberty be authorized to cancel their agreement made with Samuel Beck, and that they do desist from further prosecuting said buildings until further order."
The agitation of the removal of the county seat to Wheeling was at this time claiming the attention of the people of the county, and doubtless this was the reason the court ordered the cancellation of the agreement above mentioned, as the same was removed to Wheeling in the year 1797, where the court was first convened at the public inn of John Gooding on the 7th day of May of the last named year. In its day West Liberty was an important place, but on the removal of the court house it lost its importance, as also its prominence as a business center.