WHEELING, W.Va. – West Virginia Independence Hall (WVIH) in Wheeling will host the next program of the Fort Henry Lecture Series at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 26. The program will be held in the auditorium on the lower level of WVIH and is free and open to the public.

Joseph Forte, arms expert, will present “18th Century Firearms,” where he will discuss the accuracy and range of firearms used in the Revolutionary War.

Born and raised in the Philadelphia area, Forte’s interest in muzzle-loading firearms dates to 1977 when he started shooting them competitively. As time went on, he became more interested in living history interpretation, and turned his interests to the study of authentic firearms and their manufacture. He then began to research and study the techniques and methods practiced by the 18th century master gunsmiths. Forte currently resides in Circleville, Ohio.

Forte has demonstrated gunsmithing at The Fair at New Boston, Ohio and at the Landis Valley Farm Museum in Lancaster, Pa.  Firearms made by Forte have been displayed at the Contemporary Long Rifle Show in Marietta, Ohio for several years, and he also has presented programs on 18th century gunsmithing to the Society of Antique Period Furniture Makers. He has volunteered as a living history interpreter at Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania and has conducted many historical programs.

Hosted by the Wheeling Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution and the Fort Henry Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution, the yearlong Fort Henry Commemoration Speaker Series is sponsored by Wheeling Heritage. For information about the monthly series, please visit

For more information about WVIH, contact Debbie Jones, site manager, at (304) 238-1300 or

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 The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.