In looking for more facts pertaining to the discussion on "to whale/wail/wale on someone," to hit, to beat. I'm finding some interesting things.
The words "wheal," "weal," and "welt" also have some relationship to "wale," more or less, but that doesn't lead much of anywhere.

Webster's 1828 does not have any verb "to whale."
The 1913 Webster's has this verb, written as such:

Whala , v. t. (imp. & p. p. Whaled (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Whaling.) (Cf. Wale. ) To lash with stripes; to wale; to thrash; to drub. (Prov. Eng. & Colloq. U. S.) Halliwell. Bartlett.
I'm sure "whala," ending with an A, must be a mistake, even though it appears at the three or four websites that are based on the 1913 dictionary. It has to be a typograpical error, possibly in the print edition, more likely in whatever scanned edition was shared by these different websites.
The order of the entries is no clue; they run, "Whahoo, Whala, Whale." This edition does make separate entries for noun, verb, and adjective use of the same word (for example, Wet, Wet, and Wet on the same page), so that also is no clue. Yet no one else on the World Wide Web seems to know of "whala" except for Webster 1913. No, I take that back, it's a surname and there are also a dozen hits for it used as a (jocular?) variant of "voila".
What were the references of Halliwell and Bartlett supposed to mean?... I don't find Halliwell, but the Online Book Page has a link to:

Dictionary of Americanisms, by John Russell Bartlett (1848) http://www.merrycoz.org/voices/bartlett/AMER14.HTM

which has:
WHALING. A lashing; a beating.
(citation:)
But it is possible that we may, at some future time, go to war with England her writers and speakers
having spoken disparagingly of us, while her actors, half-pay officers and other travelling gentry carry their heads rather high in passing through our
country for which "arrogant" demeanor we are bound to give her a whaling! N. Y. Tribune, Aug. 1847.
That "Dictionary of Americanisms" looks useful for other discussions. I see who the elusive Hallilwell must be, from another entry:

DOUGH-NUT. A small roundish cake, made of flour,
eggs, and sugar, moistened with milk, and boiled in lard. Webster. Halliwell has donnut in his
Provincial Dictionary, which is no doubt the same
word.
I see there are some other interesting books reproduced at the Merrycoz site, such as Webster's speller, with a full section on pronunciation rules:
The American Spelling Book, by Noah Webster (1800?) http://www.merrycoz.org/books/spelling/SPELLING.HTM

Best Donna Richoux
I'm sure "whala," ending with an A, must be a mistake, even though it appears at the three or four ... edition was shared by these different websites. The order of the entries is no clue; they run, "Whahoo, Whala, Whale."

The order of entries in OED2 is "whakapapa, Whaker, whale /n/, whale /v1/, whale /v2/, whale (variant of /wale/). There is a short discussion s.v. whale /v2/ of whether it is also a variant of /wale/.
What were the references of Halliwell and Bartlett supposed to mean?... I don't find Halliwell, but the Online Book Page has a link to:

OED has more than 1200 citations from Jame O. Halliwell, mostly from his A Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words (1846), later editions being referred to as Halliwell-Phillipps. The "Bartlett" is John R. Bartlett's Dictionary of Americanisms (1848), as you have discovered.
Dictionary of Americanisms, by John Russell Bartlett (1848) http://www.merrycoz.org/voices/bartlett/AMER14.HTM

Martin Ambuhl
Dictionary of Americanisms, by John Russell Bartlett (1848) http://www.merrycoz.org/voices/bartlett/AMER14.HTM That "Dictionary of Americanisms" looks useful for other discussions.

Yes, that does look like a good source. Interesting to see, for instance, that "mad" meaning "angry" was at the time considered "perhaps an English vulgarism ... not found in any accurate writer, nor used by any good speaker". Here's another entry that caught my eye:

NIMSHI. A foolish fellow, or one who habitually acts in a foolish manner. Local in Connecticut.
Schele de Vere's Americanisms (1872) on the Making of America database has a similar definition:
http://tinyurl.com/2nu2b
Nimshi, is the Connecticut term for nincompoop.
"Nimshi" is a Biblical name (father of Jehoshaphat, grandfather of Jehu). Could this have been an earlier version of "Nimrod", another Biblical name that came to denote a foolish person? "Nimrod" didn't appear as a term of derision until the 1930s, according to Jesse Sheidlower's RHHDAS citations (1). But perhaps both "Nimshi" and "Nimrod" started off as Sunday-school jokes, names that were vaguely evocative of "ninny", "nincompoop", "nitwit", "numbskull", etc.

(1)
http://www.alt-usage-english.org/excerpts/fxnimrod.html Removed)
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
In looking for more facts pertaining to the discussion on "to whale/wail/wale on someone," to hit, to beat. I'm finding some interesting things.

Chambers (1911) has
welt (the word meaning "hem") (colloquial): a weal; to flog severely from W gwald (hem)
weal: /a form of/ wale
wale: a raised streak left by a stripe; to mark with wales, /also/ weal waler: one who chastises severely
from AS walu (wale); Ice völr (rod)
whale (slang): to thrash
probably from /whale/bone whip
The above could lead one to conclude that the word had transmogrified from wale* through *weal* to *welt* (and partially "back" to the homophone *whale).
What seems more logical to me is that noun "welt" came to be regarded as the result of (unrelated) verb "wale/weal" because the former looks like the p.p. of the latter.
Adrian
In looking for more facts pertaining to the discussion on "to whale/wail/wale on someone," to hit, to beat. I'm finding ... such as Webster's speller, with a full section on pronunciation rules: The American Spelling Book, by Noah Webster (1800?) http://www.merrycoz.org/books/spelling/SPELLING.HTM

The Century Dictionary has the following:
(quote, with pronunciation represented by ASCII IPA)

whale 2 /hweIl/, v. t. ; pret. and pp. whaled, ppr. whaling. (A var. of wale 1, the change of initial w- to wh- being perhaps due to association with whack, whap, whip, etc.) To lash with vigorous
stripes ; thrash or beat soundly. (Colloq.)
I have whipped you, Antipodes (a horse), but have I whaled you ? T. Winthrop, Canoe and Saddle, xii.

But first I would remark, that it is not a proper plan For any scientific gent to whale his fellow-man. Bret Harte, The Society upon the Stanislana.
(end quote)
(quote)
wale 1 /weIl/, v. t. ; pret. and pp. waled, ppr. wal- ing. (Also improp. whale ; A wycked wound hath me walled,
And traveyld me from topp to too.
Political Poems, etc. (ed. Furnivall), p. 216.
Thy sacred body was stripped of thy garments, and
waled with bloody stripes. Bp. Hall, Christ before pilate.
2. To weave or make the web of, as a gabion,with more than two rods at a time.
(end quote)
That second definition appears to agree with the derivation of the verb from the noun "wale," since the noun originally meant "rod."

Note, however, that the etymology which MWCD11 gives for the verb "whale" meaning "LASH, THRASH," is "origin unknown."

Raymond S. Wise
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
E-mail: mplsray @ yahoo . com
In looking for more facts pertaining to the discussion on "to whale/wail/wale on someone," to hit, to beat. I'm finding ... a typograpical error, possibly in the print edition, more likely in whatever scanned edition was shared by these different websites.

Yes. That entry is under 'Whale' in my paper WID.
Another word to consider is 'wallop' in similar senses.

Regards
John
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In looking for more facts pertaining to the discussion on ... in whatever scanned edition was shared by these different websites.

Yes. That entry is under 'Whale' in my paper WID.

Ah, good. Is that Webster's International Dictionary, 1890? Or a different book?
Another word to consider is 'wallop' in similar senses.

Best - Donna Richoux
Yes. That entry is under 'Whale' in my paper WID.

Ah, good. Is that Webster's International Dictionary, 1890? Or a different book?

Yes, that's the one. It's an 1897 printing.

Regards
John