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Betty Zane   By: (1872-1939)

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Etext prepared by Bill Brewer,




In a quiet corner of the stately little city of Wheeling, West Va., stands a monument on which is inscribed:

"By authority of the State of West Virginia to commemorate the siege of Fort Henry, Sept 11, 1782, the last battle of the American Revolution, this tablet is here placed."

Had it not been for the heroism of a girl the foregoing inscription would never have been written, and the city of Wheeling would never have existed. From time to time I have read short stories and magazine articles which have been published about Elizabeth Zane and her famous exploit; but they are unreliable in some particulars, which is owing, no doubt, to the singularly meagre details available in histories of our western border.

For a hundred years the stories of Betty and Isaac Zane have been familiar, oft repeated tales in my family tales told with that pardonable ancestral pride which seems inherent in every one. My grandmother loved to cluster the children round her and tell them that when she was a little girl she had knelt at the feet of Betty Zane, and listened to the old lady as she told of her brother's capture by the Indian Princess, of the burning of the Fort, and of her own race for life. I knew these stories by heart when a child.

Two years ago my mother came to me with an old note book which had been discovered in some rubbish that had been placed in the yard to burn. The book had probably been hidden in an old picture frame for many years. It belonged to my great grandfather, Col. Ebenezer Zane. From its faded and time worn pages I have taken the main facts of my story. My regret is that a worthier pen than mine has not had this wealth of material.

In this busy progressive age there are no heroes of the kind so dear to all lovers of chivalry and romance. There are heroes, perhaps, but they are the patient sad faced kind, of whom few take cognizance as they hurry onward. But cannot we all remember some one who suffered greatly, who accomplished great deeds, who died on the battlefield some one around whose name lingers a halo of glory? Few of us are so unfortunate that we cannot look backward on kith or kin and thrill with love and reverence as we dream of an act of heroism or martyrdom which rings down the annals of time like the melody of the huntsman's horn, as it peals out on a frosty October morn purer and sweeter with each succeeding note.

If to any of those who have such remembrances, as well as those who have not, my story gives an hour of pleasure I shall be rewarded.


On June 16, 1716, Alexander Spotswood, Governor of the Colony of Virginia, and a gallant soldier who had served under Marlborough in the English wars, rode, at the head of a dauntless band of cavaliers, down the quiet street of quaint old Williamsburg.

The adventurous spirits of this party of men urged them toward the land of the setting sun, that unknown west far beyond the blue crested mountains rising so grandly before them.

Months afterward they stood on the western range of the Great North mountains towering above the picturesque Shenandoah Valley, and from the summit of one of the loftiest peaks, where, until then, the foot of a white man had never trod, they viewed the vast expanse of plain and forest with glistening eyes. Returning to Williamsburg they told of the wonderful richness of the newly discovered country and thus opened the way for the venturesome pioneer who was destined to overcome all difficulties and make a home in the western world.

But fifty years and more passed before a white man penetrated far beyond the purple spires of those majestic mountains.

One bright morning in June, 1769, the figure of a stalwart, broad shouldered man could have been seen standing on the wild and rugged promontory which rears its rocky bluff high above the Ohio river, at a point near the mouth of Wheeling Creek... Continue reading book >>

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