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Wellsburg is the county seat of Brooke County. It is situated in the Northern Panhandle on the Ohio River. The town is 16 miles north of Wheeling and 40 miles west of Pittsburgh, at an elevation of 661 feet. It is served by state routes 2, 27, and 67.

Wellsburg has nine primary schools and two middle schools, with the county’s consolidated high school nearby. There are also a parochial school and an alternative learning center. Brooke County Public Library is located in Wellsburg. The town has a volunteer fire department, several banks, and one weekly newspaper. There are churches of various denominations. Wellsburg had a population of 2,805 in 2010. The diverse economy includes two paper mills, a glass gift outlet, several telemarketing facilities, and a factory that does metal fabrication plus plastics molding.

In 1772, the Cox brothers, Friend, Israel, and Jonathan, made tomahawk claims in the area now including Wellsburg. Their claims totaled 1,200 acres. In March 1788, Charles Prather purchased 481 acres from the Cox heirs for $3,000. In 1791, Prather petitioned Ohio County to incorporate the town of Charlestown, Virginia, naming it after himself. The original name continued until 1816, when it was changed to Wellsburg, to avoid confusion with Charles Town, Jefferson County. The new name was in honor of Alexander Wells, Charles Prather’s son-in-law. Late in 1890, nearby Midway and Lazearville were annexed to Wellsburg.

Wellsburg was the home of Patrick Gass, the last surviving member of the Lewis and Clark expedition and author of a memoir of the famous journey. Here also was the home of Joseph Doddridge, author of Notes on the Settlement and Indian Wars. The original Grimes Golden apple tree was found just east of Wellsburg. The first glass factory in Western Virginia was built at Wellsburg in 1813.

The Wellsburg Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Read the National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Wellsburg Historic District.

This Article was written by Ruby A. Greathouse

Last Revised on March 25, 2019

Related Articles


Dodrill, Carlin F., Celia Vermillion & William L. Young. West Virginia Centennial Celebration, 1863-1963, Brooke County. Follansbee Review Press, 1963.

Newton, J. H., G. G. Nichols & A. G. Sprankle. History of the Pan-Handle. Wheeling: Caldwell, 1879.

Cipriani, Anthony J. Sr. Wellsburg, West Virginia, 1791-1991. Wellsburg: Any Forms & Checks, 1991.

Cite This Article

Greathouse, Ruby A. "Wellsburg." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 25 March 2019. Web. 21 September 2021.


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