Pennsylvania Taverns

James Flint says: "Several taverns on the road after leaving Chambersburg are log houses constructed by laying square trees horizontally and in a quadrangular position in a way similar to that which house joiners tie up boards to be dried." In speaking of Fort Loudon, which he says is 13 miles from Chambersburg, and which has a few houses, only two of them taverns, situated at the foot of the ridge called Cove Mountain, he says: "The other tavern was so completely thronged with movers that a multitude had taken up their lodging in a barn. We were permitted to stop on condition of all three sleeping in one bed which is said to be a large and good one. Two-thirds of the bar room floor was covered with the beds of weary travelers, close side by side, and the remaining occupied by people engaged in drinking and noisy conversation. The room in which the supper was served was too small to admit any large proportion of the company at once. In consequence we had to await the alternation of supper party before we got to the table.

Mr. _______ says: "Arrived at 8 o'clock at Loudon at the foot of the North Mountain, one of the Allegheny Ridges. Here are 17 log and 20 frame houses. We were not allowed to go to breakfast at the tavern in the town as one of the proprietors of the coach had a house at McConnellsville. The tavern at Loudon is cheerless and dirty. A number of wagoners were breakfasting. I counted thirty engaged in the transportation of goods to and from Pittsburgh."

John C. May, on his return trip from Harrisburg, stopped at Sideling Ridge. He says: "Slept in a house, not a window in the house. I laid and watched the crack under the door until daybreak when I arose and called up my friend, Captain Carey. We took our departure immediately. We break-fasted at Fort Littleton at Captain Burd's in a really elegant manner on fine coffee, loaf sugar, venison and shad. From there we crossed the mountain, slept at Captain Rippey's in handsome style after supping sumptuously on beef steak and sundry knickknacks."

Dr. Michenaux says: "At Shippensburg, the stage coach stopped at the house of Col. Rippey, who keeps a good tavern, the sign of Gen. Washington. He is very obliging to the travelers who use his house on their way to the western country." He says: "At Fort Littleton, six miles from Shippensburg, I stopped at a very good tavern kept by Colonel Burd."

Mr. Cummings says: "I stopped at Raum's a German house near the middle of the town of Shippensburg and apparently the best tavern in it. I sit down to a good supper after which the wagoners spread their blankets and mattresses on the floor and I retired to bed.'" On his journey from Shippensburg he says: "I met on the road two wagons with six horses each from Zanesville, Ohio, going to Philadelphia for goods. They had been a month on the road."

When the tourists and travelers of the earlier days were journeying over this road there- was but one house where the engraving shows a street scene in Orrstown. This house was built by John Finley along about 1752 and is in use as a tavern today? It was originally a one story log building known in the tax lists as a "cabin." When the travelling trade demanded more room it was enlarged with a log kitchen and later a two story weather boarded building added and along its entire front was a covered porch and a wagon yard in the rear. Thomas Wilson, one of the 1794 whiskey boys, kept it as a tavern. James Means used it as his farm house, George Roupe kept it as tavern, James Kyle used it as a store and was followed by John Clippinger and about 1833 by J- Orr & Brothers. The east end was used as a tavern by Col. James B. Orr, Philip Pyle, David Fetter. Abram Stump, William Gracey, John Kyner followed by William S. Bard and others. The building on the left of the picture, almost hidden by the trees is the original one improved and enlarged by raising it to two stories and "casing" it with brick. But behind the trees, the brick, the paint and other improvements the house of 1752 is doing duty as a place of "entertainment for man and beast."

The steadily increasing trade and traffic along the road laid out by the State in 1786 from Widow Miller's Spring which was at Mount Rock, Cumberland county to Pittsburgh, gave rise to houses of entertainment along its route. By 1830 there were between Shippensburg and Sproats or The Juniata Crossings some thirty taverns, many of them not over a mile apart doing a good business. The distance between these points was about sixty miles portions of which were in the mountains and with the fifteen taverns in Shippensburg there was an average of a tavern to every mile of the Three Mountain Road.

The engraving at the head of "Taverns" presents the Tavern at what is now Pleasant Hall and was made from a recent photograph. This building was erected a little earlier than 1794 and continues in daily use as a dwelling and place of business. It is a type of many of the tavern buildings of that early day and is a two story frame house weather boarded with a covered porch its entire length. In 1794 it was occupied by William Davis, an ancestor of Rev. Dr. Davis, of Wooster, Ohio. In 1823 it was occupied by George Miller as a private citizen, next by Mr. Hollinger, followed by Samuel Creamer. About 1828 Samuel Fish kept it as a Tavern, next came Peter Hoch, then George Boltz, then David Fetter, Abram Stump, William Nicklas, John Golden, and about 1849 John Harris who later became a county commissioner in Cumberland county. It was a lively hostelry during Mr. Harris' time. He had a large family, three or four very attractive daughters, a son who was good with a "fiddle", another a noted fancy dancer, an older boy who was a "horse jockey" in which his father could give him odds, a bar that was well supplied with the best kinds of liquors, no hampering or hungry laws as to Sunday or minors, or anybody that grew thirsty and a wife noted as a good housekeeper. It was a place for everybody and they all stopped to enjoy its hospitalities, swap a yarn or two as well as a horse. From 1853 to 1863 Abram Keefer kept this tavern and he still occupies it with his wife both of whom are verging on the nineties. The west end of this building was used as a "cross roads" store by David Fetter, Barney Fohl, the late Robert E. Tolbert of Chambersburg, and Philip Foust. Since 1897 Cyrus Keefer has used this room as a store room and it gives promise of many years of service and usefulness.

In the preparation of this paper I have consulted several libraries in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and have gathered in a convenient form much that relates to this valley, as to its appearance, its customs, its places of entertainment, of more than a century ago, and trust it may be of profit to any interested in those faraway days.

AHGP Pennsylvania

Source: The Kittochtinny Historical Society, 1908-1910, Peoples Register Print, Chambersburg, PA, 1910

 
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