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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Ohio And Local Taverns And Their Names

Dallas Bogan on 18 August 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

Rules of this tavern:
Four Pence a night for Bed
Six Pence with Supper
No more than five to sleep in
one bed
No boots to be worn in bed
Organ Grinders to sleep
in the wash house
No dogs allowed upstairs
No Beer allowed in the Kitchen
No razor grinders or tinkers
taken in.


Names! Signs! What did they mean in stagecoach and tavern days? Many innkeepers were unable to decide upon the tavern name or the sign type. If a new owner, having purchased an inn, which already had a name, feared an adverse effect upon patronage, he would simply attach the new name to the old. Perhaps the following sign in an early tavern in Chillicothe was due this summation.

Travellers Rest at the Sign of the Fountain

As described earlier in this text, Ohio taverns primarily catered to the traveling public. So, we are not surprised to see such signs as Traveller's Inn or Traveller's Rest.
Springfield had in its early days a master tavern keeper by the name of William Ross. He advertised very extensively in the newspapers of the day that his "Traveller's Inn" was located in a new brick building which stood at what is "now the southeast corner of Main and Fountain Avenue." He referred to it as being in Champaign County "on the main road leading from Cincinnati through Dayton and Zanesville." (This was many years before Clark County was separated from Champaign.)
Along the sidewalk in front of the tavern there stood for years a pole from the top of which was suspended an oval signboard with a lively, striking picture of a post chaise (a closed, four-wheeled carriage that was horse drawn) and four in action.
In 1804, the village of Greenfield also supported a tavern run by Francis Nott. Noble Crawford later succeeded him by a man named Simmons and then. The latter built the first stone house in town in 1812 in which he continued to serve the public. The name "Traveller's Rest" was inscribed in solid rock in the arched lintel over the doorway.
An advertisement, in 1825, in the Cincinnati National Republican and Ohio Political Register, finds that John Long is the proprietor of the Traveller's Welcome, formerly known as the Hop-Yard Tavern. He states "he trusts by his assiduity and attention to business to establish the house in the most respectable manner."
Columbus sported in its early days an inn by the name of the "Yankee Tavern." John Cunning, who advertised it for sale in the Columbus Gazette in November, 1818, owned it. It was located on the corner of High and Friend Streets and did at that Jarvis Pike, later of stagecoach fame, occupy time.
Cunning offered the property for sale for either cash, or would trade it for flour, cattle or hogs. Apparently he sold it to Jarvis Pike, for three years later we find Mr. Pike keeping house of Broad Street "a few rods north from the Public Building."

"Indian King and Queen" Taverns

Two Ohio taverns whose name were The Indian King, displayed signboards that were dazzling in exhibition, disclosing brilliant blankets and gay plumage. Such a sign was presented by Henry Disbrow of Cincinnati, who "removed from the Brick House near the Court House to that well-known White House at the corner of Main and Market Streets." This event occurred in 1807.
Two years later, Adam Betz wanted to let "the Indian King Tavern" in Chillicothe.
A mile and a half north of Lebanon on the Cincinnati Road, "The Indian Queen," owned by Samuel Jameson, is describes as a true early Victorian style.
Jameson "very respectfully presents his compliments to his friends and the public generally. His situation is surpassed by but few country houses in the West, and from a determination to render full satisfaction to all who may call on him he pledges himself that his Table, Bar, Beds, etc., will be inferior to none in the state."
He also tells us "families from the cities and elsewhere wishing to spend a few weeks or months in the country during the hot season can be accommodated with private rooms and all necessary conveniences."
He states that he will "be prepared at all times to accommodate all who may want to go from one to one hundred miles on the most reasonable terms. His distance from Union Village is three miles, where there is much attraction and fine feeling enjoyed by all those who politely visit that place."
As a further incentive, Mr. Jameson adds that "the stables attached to his establishment are large and commodious and well stored with good provender" and ends by a pleasant "soliciting a share of public patronage for which he will be very thankful."
Although Ohio had the name Indian Queen in its tavern list, other locations in the country seem to have acquired the name.
James Edmonson on Main Street in Louisville, Kentucky, solicited folks to frequent his establishment at Union Hall at the Sign of the Indian Queen.
"The new line of stages to Chambersburg which start shortly from Mr. Gadsbury's Indian Queen will regularly stop at 'The Western' going and coming in."
In Lebanon, William Ferguson erected, in 1805, a frame building, which was known by a sign exhibiting the insignia, "The Indian Chief Tavern." It stood on Main Street on the site occupied by the east end of the town hall.
During the 1820's, it was better known as the "Ferguson House." Henry Clay, his wife and daughter, visited the tavern in 1825. Their daughter, Eliza, contacted typhoid fever and died after three weeks' illness on the 11th of August that year.

"Patriotic" Tavern Names

John Noble kept the "Union Hotel" in Lancaster in the 1820's with a sign displaying the words, "Goddess of Liberty, Commerce and Agriculture." His hope was that "through his industry and experience in business to render all comfortable that may favor him with a call." He promised to provide his house with "important news from different parts of the Union."
The term "hotel" seems to have been entered into this country, according to Robert B. Ludy in his "Historic Hotels of the World," in 1801, by John Francis. He was a Frenchman and the proprietor of "Francis's Union Hotel" in Philadelphia, the date being 1793.
Bellfontaine's tribute to the tavern business was in the form of Walter Slicer's old hotel. As tradition has it, the site created the atmosphere in which Coates Kinney penned his immortal poem, "The Rain Upon the Roof." The poem, being rehearsed in his mind while walking from a home on the West Liberty Road, was actually shaped the previous night under the rafters of a farmhouse, listening while "the melancholy darkness gently wept in rainy tears."
John B. Miller bought a native of New York slicer's hotel, in 1855. The latter's first stop in Bellfontaine occurred in 1832, by way of Cincinnati.
Miller, after establishing himself in the tavern, and improving it, changed the name to the "Union House," under which name it remained until torn down in 1880.
Miller was a spirited admirer of the dramatic and musical and arts field, and the "Union House" attracted the best wayfaring personnel to his hotel.
Jeremiah Armstrong, in Columbus, substituted his Indian Chief sign for the "Sign of Christopher Columbus first landing from his ship in America" in 1822. Five years later the sign on the hostelry read "The Columbus Hotel, Sign of the Red Lion - one dollar per day for man and horse."
Thomas Needham, in 1808, purchased the tavern from Lamb and changed the name to "The Sign of the Spread Eagle."
An advertisement placed in the Zanesville Express and Republican Standard tells of Daniel Hamel and his house of public entertainment in New Philadelphia named "The Sign of the Eagle."
In 1816, the Scioto Gazette stated that Thomas Cohen, late of Virginia, has taken the "Spread Eagle Tavern" in Chillicothe.
William Attlesey, several years later, was undertaking a waggon stand three miles east of St. Clairsville on the National Road, which he called "The Spread Eagle Inn."
William Keys, as early as 1798, placed a sign on his tavern so-named "The Cross Keys Tavern." In 1810, Keys was found operating the "Spread Eagle Tavern" in Chillicothe.
With the pioneers traveling east and west on the National Road, the term "National" became popular about 1826. With the advent of America's first superhighway, the terms National and Union seem to have been adopted by the majority as one of cohesion.
Xenia housed the "Columbian Hall" on Main Street, which was operated by C.L. Merrick. His poster read: "Separate rooms can be furnished from the accommodation of those who wish to remain private."
Cincinnati sported the "Columbian Inn," which was for a number of years a leading place of housing. It was located on the corner of Main and Columbia Streets.
During and following the Revolutionary War, George Washington was recognized as the face on the signs of many inns.
In January, 1814, the Chillicothe Supporter states that John Runkle had just opened a "House of Entertainment in that elegant and commodious edifice on the corner of Water and Mulberry Streets, at the Sign of George Washington where he hopes from his assiduous attention to business, his absolute determination to keep his house quiet for the particular accommodation of Travellers, and his unremitting endeavors to give general satisfaction to those gentlemen who may be pleased to call on him, to merit a share of public patronage."
William Harlow operated the "Washington Hall" in Cincinnati a few years later. It was a large spacious building located on Front Street, a few doors west of Main.
St. Clairsville promoted a charming old inn on the National Road, which was dated 1812 and known for many years as "The Washington Inn."
The name of Wayne probably ranked second to Washington as far as tavern names go among early Ohio landlords. After the Treaty of Peace with the Indians, Anthony Wayne possibly stood out amongst Ohioans as the man who liberated the State.
In gratitude to him, people named towns, taverns, counties, townships, villages, children, horses, dogs, and who knows what, all in memory to him.
One of the more famous and distinguished taverns, with the portrait of the liberator of the Old Northwest Territory, stood on the southeast corner of Wayne and Water Streets in Sandusky.
Benjamin Franklin was also recognized as an American hero amongst the early tavern proprietors.
Henry Brown, a restless fellow that traveled from town to town, kept the "Franklin Hall" at the sign of the "Golden Lamb" opposite the public buildings in Columbus.
Cleaveland also housed the "Franklin House" that stood on the north side of Superior east of Water Street. It was a three-story building constructed in 1826 by Timothy Scoville, and was described as being "very spacious and furnished in a style not surpassed in this part of the State." It was the nucleus of several stage lines centermost in Cleaveland.
Names of war dignitaries, whether it is the First or Second War for Independence, produced portraits representative of the many heroes on the conglomerate of tavern signs. Aside from Washington, Wayne and Franklin, the names of Harrison and Perry seem to have come to light.
The canal era produced the name and portrait of DeWitt Clinton on its inn signs, especially along the newly structured canals.
Joseph Hill, as early as 1806, marketer and postmaster, operated a tavern in North Bend at the "Sign of Judge Symmes."
In 1840, R.H. Loomis renamed the "Clinton House" the "Harrison House," in honor of the hero of Tippecanoe.
Cincinnati was the home of the famous "Burnet House" which was for more than fifty years the leading hostelry in the West. It was named for Jacob Burnet, a notable man of reputation of that day, who migrated from New Jersey in the late 1700's to the village of about five hundred on the Ohio.
He was a graduate of Princeton and a friend of Alexander Hamilton. He was a member of the Territorial Government, later served as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Ohio, United States Senator, and was selected as the first president of the College of Cincinnati. Among his other ventures was the organization of The Miami Export Company.

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This page created 18 August 2004 and last updated 18 August, 2015
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