WHEELING, W.Va. – West Virginia Independence Hall (WVIH) in Wheeling will host the eighth program of the Fort Henry Commemoration Speaker Series with a walking tour of the sites and recount of the events of the first siege of Fort Henry. The “walk and talk” will feature local historians Alan Fitzpatrick and Joe Roxby. It will begin at the Capitol Theatre, 1015 Main Street on Thursday, Aug. 31, at 5:30 p.m. and conclude at WVIH. The speaker series is observing the 240th anniversary year of the first siege of Fort Henry and the 235th anniversary of the second siege. The program is free and open to the public. The walking tour will kick off three days of activities commemorating Fort Henry over Labor Day weekend.
Born and raised in Canada, Alan Fitzpatrick has resided in West Virginia since 1973. After graduating from Kent State University with a degree in psychology, he was employed at the West Virginia Penitentiary as a classifications counselor. Since then, he has made the Wheeling area his home and operated a retail carpet business for 33 years before retiring. With a lifelong interest in the history of the Ohio Valley frontier, Alan was a founding member of Fort Henry Days, a yearly living-history commemoration and re-enactment of the 1782 siege of Fort Henry, the last battle of the American Revolution. Fitzpatrick has written four non-fiction early-American history books about the conflict between Native Americans and colonials during the tumultuous period of the late 1700s.
Joe Roxby is a 1971 graduate of Wheeling Central Catholic High School, and earned a degree in history in 1975 from West Liberty State College. Roxby retired from the Wheeling Police Department as a lieutenant in December 2003. A noted local frontier historian, Roxby is a staff writer for the magazine Precision Shooting and has written for Tactical Shooter, The Accurate Rifle, Outdoor Magazine and local newspapers. He is the co-author of the book The Heroic Age, Tales of Wheeling’s Frontier Era and a book of short stories titled Lost Legends of Fort Henry. He also has worked on the screenplay for a proposed film about local legend Betty Zane titled Betty Zane: Legend of Fort Henry. Roxby is a past president for Fort Henry Days Living History, and was elected magistrate of Ohio County in 2008.
On Friday, Sept. 1 at 1 p.m., the Wheeling Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and the Fort Henry Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) will conduct a memorial service at the DAR Foreman’s Massacre monument located at 21st Street in McMechen. Captain William Foreman and his detachment of 20 Hampshire County militiamen were sent to reinforce Fort Henry during the first siege. They were massacred by Native American warriors in a surprise attack on Sept. 28, 1777 at the Narrows of the Ohio River near McMechen.
On Saturday, Sept. 2, and Sunday, Sept. 3, Fort Henry Days will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Site One in Oglebay Park. Betty Zane’s heroic run to retrieve gun powder for Fort Henry will be reenacted, marking the 235th anniversary of the second siege.
The yearlong program is co-hosted by the Wheeling Chapter, DAR and the Fort Henry Chapter, SAR and sponsored by Wheeling Heritage.
For more information about WVIH, contact Debbie Jones, site manager, at (304) 238-1300 or Deborah.J.Jones@wv.gov. For information about the speaker series and other activities, visit www.fthenrysar.org.
West Virginia Independence Hall has been on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) since 1970. It was originally built as a federal custom house in 1859, served as the home of the pro-Union state conventions of Virginia during the spring and summer of 1861 and as the capitol of loyal Virginia from June 1861 to June 1863. It also was the site of the first constitutional convention for West Virginia.
Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1988, the museum is maintained and operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, with the cooperation and assistance of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, except for major holidays. The museum is located on the corner of 16th and Market Streets in Wheeling.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is proud to be able to present its programs at no charge to the public but without a solution to the state’s budget situation, this could be the last year that programs of this type could be offered. The division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, is an agency within the Office of Secretary of Education and the Arts with Gayle Manchin, cabinet secretary. It brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the division’s programs, events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.