The recorded history of the Town of Triadelphia begins around the year 1800. Prior to this the site of the present town was wild, open country; the home of the slinking mountain lion, the fleet deer and the wily, woods-wise Indian. No chronology of the Town itself could be complete without a glimpse into the early days of the settlement of the Upper Ohio Valley, because it is during the formative period of the civilization we now enjoy that we find the ultimate causes for the great Federal and State projects which finally gave birth to the Town of the Three Brothers. Let us go back, then, to the time when the American Indian was the sole monarch of the Upper Ohio Valley. Shortly after the half-way mark of the 18th Century, the Ohio Valley was a territory whose ownership was disputed by the greatest nations of the earth. It was a fertile country with great future possibilities and consequently was considered a prize by the whites.
England claimed ownership by virtue of a more or less tottery title bought from the Indians. France claimed ownership by right of discovery. Spain made claims based on the fact that Columbus had discovered America and the whole continent was therefore under the jurisdiction of the nation which had sent him on his successful voyage. So it came to be that while only a scattered few hardy trappers and explorers had ever seen "La Belle Riviera" diplomats and statesmen in the old world held numerous meetings anent the ownership of the great land west of the Alleghenies. The truth of the matter was that claims to ownership, upon whatever right they were based, were worthless and in the vast wilderness west of the mountains, might made right and to the victor belonged the spoils. It appears from the records that a few small expeditions had crossed the mountains from the sea-board settlements in the east, but the first accurate account of a white man descending the Ohio came as a result of an expedition headed by Bienville De Celeron. Celeron came down the Ohio with an armed force to claim the land adjacent to the river in the name of Sovereign France. This group of soldiers was sent out by the French Government to establish sites for future forts along the river. They carried with them engraved lead tablets which were buried in the ground at strategic spots with the hope that this metallic symbol of discovery would strengthen the claim of their nation to the land bordering on the Ohio. De Celeron and his troop of armored soldiers buried one of these plates at the mouth of Wheeling Creek one spring day of 1749. And, though the plate has never been found, definite proof in the writing of the leader is to be found today in the archives of the Government of France. England was not to be frightened away from the rest by a few leaden plates, however, and as early as 1753 we find that George Washington, then a boy of only twenty-one, was sent by the crown as envoy extraordinary to the French Forts near Lake Erie. His report was unfavorable so in the next year he crossed the barrier of the Alleghenies for the second time and nearly reached the Ohio River. This time the youthful Washington was in command of "The Virginia Regiment" which was to establish an outpost at the confluence of the Monogahela and Allegheny Rivers at the present site of Pittsburgh. The expedition was destined to failure, however, as the French advanced to meet it and almost within sight of his goal, Washington was forced into battle and driven back to Fort Necessity where after a long fight he finally surrendered with the honors of war.
In 1758, George Washington, now a Lieutenant, was chosen to lead General Braddock overland to Fort Duquesne. The story of this ill-fated expedition is well known to all. Bull-dog Braddock would not listen to the young Virginian who so well knew the style of fighting in the wilderness. As a result Braddock and many of his regulars died on the field of battle and those who survived were led back across the mountains by Washington. Later in 1758, Washington was again pressed into service to lead the Virginia vanguard of General Forbes successful attack on Fort Duquesne. This was the final stroke for England against French occupation of the West. Lest all this story of Washington's expeditions may seem out of place in a history of Triadelphia, we will pause in our account for a moment to explain that it was definitely due to these expeditions of the young man who was to become the "Father of His Country" that the Town of Triadelphia owes its existence. Washington knew the west and as soon as the French War was over he began to accumulate land in this area so replete with possibilities. As a nest egg he had promise of large acreage, given him by the Governor of Virginia for his part in the Fort Necessity Campaign. Other officers and the men who participated in this expedition also received large tracts, or rather promises of large tracts. Washington bought many of these promises from other survivors and added them to his already large holdings. Things in the colonies were not running well at this time. The revolution was brewing and Washington's popularity made him more or less the center of activity. However, the lands given the soldiers of the Fort Necessity Campaign had not yet been apportioned to the men. Washington as the original leader of the expedition was asked by these soldiers to again go west to locate the land they owned. This he did, setting out for the Ohio in October of 1770. On this trip, Washington traveled to Pittsburgh on horseback. There he left his horses and procured canoes. He descended the Ohio as far as the mouth of the Great Kanawha and ascended the Kanawha for several miles. He then returned to the present site of Pittsburgh and from there to his home in the east. The trip which today can be made in a few days by train and in one day by airplane, took Washington nine weeks and one day. In the meantime, in 1769, the nucleus of the City of Wheeling was being formed. As was quite usual in those early pioneer days, the men of the Zane household crossed the mountains to took the new country over; chose the site of their residence; then returned for the rest of the family and brought them over the next year. Colonel Ebenezer Zane followed the custom of the day and with only a few male companions crossed the mountains and continued on past the outposts on the Monogahela until he reached the valley of the Ohio. Historians are wont to rhapsodize on the Colonel's remarks as he reached the top of the last of many hills, to first gaze upon the broad Ohio. Whether this hardy pioneer waxed poetic from the summit of Wheeling Hill or not, we have no proof. In the light of logic, however, it seems probable that here he found fertile bottom land suited to his ideas of a place to settle. Before him was a river which it would have been difficult to cross. And, after weeks of the arduous mountain trail, it seems more likely that the decision to locate on the east bank of the Ohio was of practical origin rather than of poetic musing. Be that as it may, Colonel Zane marked the spot and returned to bring his family to the present site of Wheeling in 1770. In the early days of the settlement of the Ohio Valley the Indians were not particularly belligerent toward the whites. Not long after the first settlement in Wheeling, however, events transpired which tended to infuriate the red-skins. Forts were few on the Ohio. Fort Pitt at the headwaters was, by 1774, a strong garrison. The fort at Redstone was also manned by a large number of soldiers. In districts removed from these forts, however, the settlers were forced to build their own private forts. With Indian depredations growing more and more frequent, Colonel Zane decided that the little colony under his wing should have a strongly barricaded fort. So it was that Fort Fincastle was erected by the sturdy band of pioneers and it was well that this precaution was taken for within a few years the Indians rose in all their power to try to exterminate the whites who had braved the country west of the mountains.
There is little doubt in the light of present knowledge that the settlers were grossly at fault as far as the first of the Indian depredations were concerned. The whites had a contempt for the red-skins, and some of the early adventurers were not averse to murdering an Indian or two for the sport it afforded them. So it was small wonder that the Indians soon came to fear the invasion of this new people and eventually set out to wipe them from the face of the earth.
Most of the early "Indian fighting" history of Wheeling centers on this effort and culminates in 1777 when the Indians went on the warpath with a vengeance. So came the "bloody year of the Three Sevens", during which scarcely a clay passed that scattered survivors of some massacre did not come in from outlying cabins to tell horrible tales of the brutality of the Indians and to seek the shelter of the fort. As a result of the success of scattered attacks on isolated cabins, the Indians became so emboldened that they finally attacked Fort Fincastle itself and it was only after several days of hard fighting that the red-skins were repulsed. During the siege, the cabin of Colonel Ebenezer Zane, located some distance from the stockade, was burned to the ground. After the failure of this attack the Indians did not attack the fort for several years. During the Revolutionary War, England won the confidence of the Indians in one way and another and in the central west there was much fighting between the colonists and Indians under the direction of British agents. It is readily realized that such strife on the border was not conducive to a general settlement of the country. Even hardy pioneers like the Wetzels who had built cabins in outlying districts were either murdered or moved into the protection of the forts and newcomers to the district immediately identified themselves with one of the strong forts. Conditions were worse than unsettled; they were dangerous even in the strong forts. In 1782 the word came from the east that Cornwallis had surrendered at Yorktown and the war was over. So separated was the newly settled land west of the Alleghenies from the colonies in the east, however, that this was only a signal for renewed hostilities on the part of the British in the west. England may have lost dominion over the eastern seaboard, but there was still hope of saving the west for the mother country.