WELLSBURG AT A GLANCE
Located in Brooke County, the city of Wellsburg serves as the county seat. One of the oldest towns on the Ohio River, it was established a few years after brothers Friend, Israel, and Jonathan Cox first laid an informal claim on approximately 1,200 acres of land in 1772. They sold the land to Charles Prather in 1788. In 1791, Prather successfully petitioned for the incorporation of the town, which he named Charlestown before it was renamed in honor of his son-in-law, Alexander Wells, in 1816.
At the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Wellsburg was relatively small by modern standards. Meriwether Lewis gives a brief description in his journal when he writes on September 7, 1803, that he and his men “passed Charles town on the E. shore above the mouth of Buffaloe over which there is built a handsome wooden bridge, this has the appearance of a handsome little Village, containing about forty houses.” Notably, Patrick Gass, a sergeant and the chief carpenter of the expedition, later settled in Wellsburg, where he died in 1870 at the age of 98. He was the oldest surviving member of the expedition.
Wellsburg boasts a number of historic locations for visitors to see. In 1982, the Wellsburg Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Included in this section of the town are Millers Tavern and the Wellsburg Wharf, both notable for predating the expedition and among the collection of village structures noted by Lewis. Millers Tavern, built in 1797, houses the Brooke County Historical Museum. Also located in the historic district is the Patrick Gass Cottage, originally built 1797, which Gass occupied during the final decades of his life.