Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan
|Dallas Bogan on 18 August 2004|
|original article by Dallas Bogan|
|Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan|
William Keys had previously been the owner of the "Red Lion Tavern in
this place for eight years, and he fondly anticipates that he will not fail
to give universal satisfaction for travelling ladies and gentlemen may at all
times be accommodated with genteel and well furnished apartments faithfully
attended by excellent servants."
There is no significant reason as to why "The Red Lion" was so popular in early Ohio. There was a "Red Lion" in Chillicothe sold in 1809 by a man named Meeker to Henry Buchanan and resold by the latter in 1814 to Edmund Basye.
At New Lisbon, in 1820, Jacob Hostetter "succeeded to the Red Lion Tavern formerly kept by David Hostetter, deceased."
Stuebenville hosted a popular tavern by the name of "The Red Lion" on North Third Street, which was kept by Isaac Jenkinson. The tavern-keeper was invariably mixed up in politics and, not surprising, his tavern was "popular among visiting politicians and others."
Other "Red Lions" were to be found in Circleville, Zanesville, Columbus and at many a crossroads.
John Irvin's sign in Chillicothe carried both the Lion and Eagle in 1809. He added the footnote in his promotion stating that "five of six decent boarders will be taken by the week or year."
Men of distinction of the times frequented the hotel. It housed Governors Morrow, Trimble, and McArthur. It also entertained such dignitaries as General Harrison, Henry Clay, and Thomas Ewing.
It is said that William Harrison, located just north of the courthouse, in an old cabin, kept the first tavern in Washington C.H., Fayette County, in 1810.
John Torbin kept another on the Vandeman Corner, in 1810 or 1812; still another by Evans and sons on Court and Fayette about 1816.
Noah Hukill in his home along the Washington and Chillicothe Pike opened a tavern in Fayette County. It was described as orderly and clean, and provided good beds and fine meals. It was especially set up to those passing through who wished entertainment.
He sold liquor and his first signboard read, "Whiskey and Oats." A later sign read, "Inn by N. Hukill." The third and last sign bore the inscription, "Independence, Please and Plenty." It was patronized by as many as twenty teamsters in one night.
On December 18, 1817, John Evans and Nicholas Neely received licenses to keep taverns in Washington, C.H. The following April, William Rankin was allowed the same consideration at his residence in Paint Township.
Other Paint Township inns were setup by Joseph Parrott and Matthew Gillespie.
In September, the same year, Sanford Corder, John Evans and Aaron Johnson started the same business in Union Township.
In 1825 Joseph Brown opened an enterprise under the same compatible name in Mt. Vernon, which was the office of the Cleaveland and Lancaster Stage.
A "high sounding name" was next in order for the more advanced taverns.
It seems as though the name of "Mansion House" was introduced about
Possibly the second tavern erected in Cleveland was built by Amos Spafford, the surveyor, who opened up his house as an inn at the southeast corner of Superior and Vineyard Lane.
The inn dated back to 1798. Its beginnings started in an abandoned storehouse built of logs by the Connecticut Land Company's second surveying party.
In 1802, he built a new and larger tavern a short distance to the west of the original building. The structure was rather large in comparison to the surrounding community. It was painted a bright red and stood out as a landmark until the more flamboyant "Mansion House" was built.
Noble H. Merwin, who migrated from the East in 1815, constructed it on a high point of the same plot of ground. Its name was somewhat magnificent, but a tall man could not stand erect in its chambers.
Its fame spread far and wide. Some of its distinguished visitors were: Governor DeWitt Clinton of New York State; Black Hawk, the famed Indian chieftain; and Hon. Lewis Cass, of Detroit, etc.
In 1826, Merwin retired from the hotel's ownership. Through many trials and owners, finally, in the 1920's, the site was swallowed up into the railroad terminal development.
Popularity among the tavern names all along the stagecoach lines seemed to settle on the Mansion House. Delaware, Marion, Mansfield, Dayton, Sandusky, Fremont, Lebanon, Bellbrook, Bloomfield in Pickaway County, Piketon, Hudson, Yellow Springs and many other locations convey elegance of this fine sounding name.
William Schaeffer had kept tavern in Germantown and later was found operating the "Mansion House" in Dayton. He also operated a tavern in Lebanon under the same name.
Samuel Elcook and run as a first-class pioneer tavern after several years and name changes purchased the "Mansion House" in Bellbrook. The grand sign was placed at the top of an eighteen-foot post. The name, "The Mansion House," was inscribed on each side in large smooth letters, while the rest was roughly painted.
When the wind was excessive the old sign creaked so as to be heard for several squares to the discomfort of the sleeping village.
Provided in this fine hotel was a grand bar. Also a large barn was used as housing for the animals during the many social gatherings. The tavern was the meeting place for public elections and conventions, as well as the headquarters for the stage lines. Jacob Lindley, who became the first mayor of Mansfield, erected a tavern named the "Mansion House" on the corner of West Market and Walnut Streets.
Another such inn so-named was located between Columbus and Sandusky in Marion. It was built on the site of an older tavern kept by Eber Baker. In 1830 he erected a fine structure of stone, which he christened "The Mansion House." The hotel enjoyed a fine reputation for more than a score of years.
The Sandusky Clarion placed a notice during the month of January 1831, stating that they hoped for rental of "that elegant tavern stand known as the Mansion House." Its dimensions were "forty feet square, three stories high, above the cellar, and accommodated with numerous apartments well calculated for the reception of company and travelers."
The massive dining area could well accommodate the seating of one hundred and fifty persons at one table. The third floor consisted of an elegant portico with a view of a number of islands on Lake Erie as well as the Canadian shore.
Another source, the History of Erie County, speaks in more detail on this hotel. It faced Decatur Street and its decor consisted of large wooden columns, which rose from sandstone bases with Corinthian capitols. Under the porch countless swallows swarmed and fluttered in their season.
Another Mansion House was located in Delaware on the corner of North and Sandusky Streets, opposite the Court House. It was put up for sale in the early part of the nineteenth century by its owner Ezra Griswold, who had recently remodeled it to a point of "comfort and greatly superior in extent to any similar establishment in the country."
Included in the facilities was a sizable range of stables, which contained housing for over one hundred horses.
As an added incentive, Mr. Griswold stated concerning the sale of his tavern that "the increasing importance of this central route from Portsmouth by way of Columbus to the Lakes, and the facilities for travelling afforded by the Ohio Canal and the Columbus and Sandusky Turnpike (now near its completion) render the prospect fro business as promising as that of any other village in the entire State."
Countless "Ohio Houses" were kept in the new State. Henry Core advertised
in 1818 at Portsmouth, that his house so-named was located "a few doors
east of Elijah Glover's."
Steubenville's Wright Warner conducted an "Ohio and Kentucky House" as early as 1817.
Springfield's famous "Pennsylvania House" enjoyed a reputation for pleasantries and good cheer through the entire legendary stagecoach reign.
Dr. Isaac Kay wrote of the tavern in his later days. He said:
"The name of the inn had been properly and shrewdly chosen, for a large proportion of the emigrants in those days were from Pennsylvania, and the very name had a sort of talismanic effect upon their minds when their eyes met it again so far away from their own home. The word Pennsylvania sounded like music to our ears, and was a fresh reminder of old Home sweet Home."
Described in the previous text we have discussed names, which have been of
nobility or prestige. However, many taverns assumed the names of the proprietors.
In Dayton, on Main Street, between First and Second, "Reid's Inn"
enjoyed its owner's name.
Sandusky had a "Townsend House."
The Cincinnati Gazette advertised in 1817 an announcement concerning "Van Meter's Tavern" on the state road leading from Lebanon to Chillicothe in Clinton County.
Residents of Chillicothe and the surrounding area supported the "Madeira House," which took its name from the proprietor, John Madeira. It stood on the northeast corner of Second and Paint Streets, and was a celebrated stagecoach stop.
James Hedges operated the "Hedges Hotel" in Circleville a century and a half ago. This was the primary stop for all the stages that passed through town. An advertisement put forth by the hotel says that hacks and horses were "kept in readiness for conveying travellers to any part of the United States."
The "National Hotel," which was known throughout the country as "The Werden House," was located in Springfield. Colonel Werden renamed his tavern the National Hotel simply out of tradition.
Perhaps the "Neil House," in Columbus, named for William Neil, was the most famous of all the Ohio taverns. In the early days of the tavern, this famous hotel had more dignitaries to frequent its dwelling than any other.
About the year 1825, William Neil was cashier of the Franklin National Bank of Columbus. He, under the administration of Postmaster General John McLean, became a mail contractor and stage owner. He engaged his brother, Robert, as chief confidant.
Out of this association grew the Ohio Stage Company. It continued for a number of years and did an extensive business.
This company later dissolved and a new enterprise was formed, the Neil, Moore & Company. For a period of about twenty years, beginning in the early 1830's, it was possibly the most extensive company of mail contractors and stage proprietors in the United States.
Its mail and stagecoach route extended over all the leading roads in Ohio including that from Cincinnati to Wheeling, and as far east as Erie and Buffalo. Lines ran to Detroit, west to Indianapolis, and perhaps farther, still.
Columbus was the center of the stage and mail systems for Ohio, western New York and the northwestern States.
Mr. Neil was the senior owner and ran the business almost totally until 1846 or 1847, when he retired and converted all his holdings to his children.
Not until after the arrival of the railroads did the name hotel become identifiable with the slowly sinking demise of the tavern or inn.
We should not forget colors in regards to tavern names. Some names representative
of such colors were: "The Green Inn" in Newark; a "Green Inn"
which stood opposite the "White Inn" in Jacksontown; "The Checkerboard
Inn," stood on the National Road west of Columbus and was named so because
the building was painted in alternate squares of black and white.
"The Green Tree" was a popular name among early Ohio taverns, possibly the reason being the greenery of the existing forests of the time.
Entered into the Scioto Gazette, in 1801, published in Chillicothe, was an advertisement by Amasa Delano for his New Tavern at Hockhocking in which he "begs leave to inform the public that he has lately opened a house of entertainment in the town of New Lancaster at the sign of 'The Green Tree' in Main Street immediately on the eminence of the priara, who is determined to make use of every exertion for the accommodation of those who think proper to call on him. Pasture as well as stabling for horses, also grain by the bushel, may be had from Subscriber.
New Lancaster, Aug 13, 1801."
In 1808, Peter Spurck announced in the Chillicothe Supporter that he wants to sell "The Green Tree" which was previously "The Black Horse."
Robert Culbertson, two years later in the same paper, advertises for tent for a term of one or more years, "The Green Tree" in Franklinton. He states:
"The buildings are large and commodious with cellars under the whole. They have not been long erected and have been occupied as a public house by Thomas McCullum and David Brotherton. The stabling, etc., is well calculated for a tavern and the situation is eligible, being on Main Street near the Court House."
Shortly afterward we find John O'Hara as proprietor of the same inn.
In Warren County still stands a famous old tavern, now used as a farm house, formerly known as "The Green Tree Inn." It sits on the old Shaker Community grounds at the intersection of St. Rt. 741 and the Greentree Road.
Ichabod Corwin, builder of "The Golden Lamb" in Lebanon, was the builder of the two story brick. John Baird operated this establishment in 1818 by Samuel Baird later.
Cincinnati had its own "Green Tree." In 1815, Harlow and Trimble opened a store of general merchandise opposite the tavern on Front Street in March 1817. Cooper and Scott advertise this tavern for sale in The Western Spy describing it as having a commodious stable and a large cellar for storage.
In May, of the same year, S. Whitney announces in the same paper that he has purchased "The Green Tree with all the furniture."
In 1820, the proprietorship was changed to Thomas Mathews. The location was on Front Street, between Main and Walnut Streets.
James Weir kept tavern for many years in the small village of Blue Ball. It was originally built and owned by Thomas Vail. He later sold it to Jonathan Emmons of New Jersey.
Emmons called the tavern, as well as the settlement, "Guilford" up to the time of its purchase.
He installed the first "Blue Ball" and changed the name of the tavern and village. That ball has long been established as the symbol of an ever-thriving village that lies partly in Warren County.
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This page created 18 August 2004 and last updated
28 September, 2008
© 2004 Arne H Trelvik All rights reserved