Collection of Rare Books at Library Highlight Local History

Thanks to funding provided by the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corp., the Ohio County Public Library has made a significant addition to its collection of rare books dealing with the early history of the Wheeling and the Upper Ohio Valley region.

When local steamboat historian, antiques dealer and rare book collector John Bowman learned that Joseph Brian DaRe of Yorkville was looking to find a new home for his extensive library of local history and anthropology books, Bowman contacted Wheeling Heritage to encourage the officials there to consider acquiring the collection in order to give the books a local home.

“Wheeling Heritage saw the invaluable resource that Mr. DaRe had assembled and wanted to preserve the collection through the purchase and donation to the Ohio County Public library,” Bekah Karelis, historian for Wheeling Heritage, said. “The library’s Wheeling Room is the natural home for the collection and the collection will be made available for use by the public for research and educational purposes.”

DaRe assembled the collection meticulously over several years while studying anthropology at Franciscan University of Steubenville. The books are in excellent condition and were cared for diligently. DaRe decided to sell the books as he progressed into a new stage in his life. He is very pleased that the collection will be kept intact and made available to future researchers.

Included in the collection of more than 120 books are numerous memoirs of Christian missionaries, soldiers and others who lived or interacted with local Indian tribes, including the “Memoirs of the Rev. David Brainerd, Missionary to the Indians, 1822” and a “Historical Account of Henry Bouquet’s Expedition Against the Ohio Indians in 1764,” edited by William Smith and dated 1868.

Also featured are early editions of rare volumes such as “History of the Early Settlement and Indian Wars of Western Virginia” by Wills DeHass, published in Wheeling in 1851; “The Olden Time” by Neville B. Craig, two volumes, 1876; and “Military Journal of Maj. Ebenezer Denny – An Officer in the Revolutionary War and Indian Wars,” 1860.

The DaRe collection includes 31 volumes on Indian rock art and archaeology, such as “Rock Art of the Upper Ohio Valley” by Felsbilder, “North American Indian Rock Art” by Wellmann and “Archaeological Atlas of Ohio” by Mills.

“We are grateful to Wheeling Heritage and to Mr. DaRe for helping us to acquire this wonderful collection,” said Dottie Thomas, director of the library. “This material will help to make the library’s Wheeling Room collection an essential stop for any researchers interested in the history of the Upper Ohio Valley.”

The DaRe collection is housed in the Wheeling Room at the library and can be accessed by appointment. For more information, visit online at or call 304-232-0244.