Lewis Wetzel

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Lewis Wetzel (August 1763–1808) was a frontiersman and Indian fighter who roamed the hills of what is now the state of West Virginia and Ohio. Wetzel County, West Virginia is named for him. Zane Grey, the great Western novelist, wrote about Wetzel in his books Spirit Of The Border, Betty Zane, and The Last Trail. Wetzel was (and is) regarded as a hero by many Americans, a lesser-known version of Daniel Boone. He was accused in 1788 of the murder of peaceful Indians, but he escaped and there was no trial.

Lewis was the son of a German emigrant named John Wetzel, who was later killed by Indians, andMary Bonnet, daughter of Jean Jacques Bonnet of Friedrichstal, Baden, Germany. The Wetzel and Bonnet families moved to the Wheeling Creek area in what is now the northern panhandle of West Virginia in 1770. The Wetzel family settled on a section far upstream from the Ohio River in a fairly isolated location.

In 1777, Lewis, then 13, and his brother Jacob, 11, were taken prisoner by Indians, but managed to escape. Lewis was shot in the leg during the capture. The young man vowed to avenge his family. Lewis and Jacob managed to return to the location of what is now Wheeling, West Virginia, which was then called Fort Henry. Lewis played an active part in the defense of that fort in the first siege of Fort Henry a couple weeks after his escape.

Wetzel later participated in some of the military campaigns against the Indian tribes in the Ohio region. Between the years of 1782 and 1787, he...
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