Elizabeth “Betty” Zane McLaughlin Clark (July 19, 1765 – August 23, 1823) was a heroine of the Revolutionary War on the American frontier. She was the daughter of William Andrew Zane and Nancy Ann (née Nolan) Zane, and the sister of Ebenezer Zane, Silas Zane, Jonathan Zane, Isaac Zane and Andrew Zane.
Three of the Zane brothers — Ebenezer, Silas and Jonathan — migrated from present-day Moorefield, Hardy County, [West] Virginia in 1769 and founded the first settlement at present-day Wheeling, Ohio County, West Virginia. The rest of the Zane family later joined them at the new settlement.
According to a historical marker in Wheeling, on September 11, 1782, the Zane family was under siege in the small garrison of Fort Henry (modern-day Wheeling, West Virginia) by Native American and British forces which was being defended by forty-two men under the command of Colonel David Shepherd of the Ohio Militia. When the garrison ran low on ammunition (black powder), Zane volunteered to leave the garrison to retrieve more ammunition from her brother’s home nearby. Zane’s actions are credited with allowing the defenders to continue to hold the fort, which remained under American control.
During the siege, while Betty was loading a Kentucky rifle, her father was wounded and fell from the top of the fort right in front of her. The captain of the fort said, “We have lost two men, one Mr. Zane and another gentlemen, and we need black gunpowder.” Betty’s brother carelessly left gunpowder at their house. She ran 40 to 50 yards to retrieve gunpowder, then returned safely. They held off the Native Americans and lived.
The Zane family later settled in what became Martins Ferry, Belmont County, Ohio, across the Ohio River from Wheeling, and played an important role during Ohio’s formative years.
The community of Betty Zane near Wheeling, West Virginia, was named after her. More than one hundred years after her death, John S. Adams wrote a poem called Elizabeth Zane that achieved some acclaim.
Betty Zane’s great-grandnephew, the author Zane Grey, wrote a historical novel about her, titled Betty Zane, also republished as The Last Ranger. One of the main events in the story is the tale of Zane’s fetching supplies from the family cabin. When Grey could not find a publisher for the book, he published it himself in 1903 using his wife’s money. Grey later named his daughter Betty Zane after his famous aunt.