(Continued From Yesterday)
OLD BRICK TOLL HOUSE
One of the old brick toll houses, erected between 1837 and 1839, stood just
a few rods west of the Carrons house, on the north side of the pike; but all trace
of it vanished years ago, so long that only the tradition exists in the Carrons
family. It is doubtful if anyone else today remembers this building. In front of
the toll house site is an iron mile post with the information”35 to Wheeling to
Washington 3; 96 to Cumberland; Hillsborough 9.”
GENERAL GEORGE WASHINGTON TAVERN
A short distance west of Carrons and on the eastern edge of Pancake, on an
elevation of the south side of the pike, Major James Dunlap kept one of the first
taverns on the road in Washington County. He was a prominent man in his day and held
the important office of brigade inspector of the Washington County militia for
a number of years. The Courthouse records show that on February 19, 1807, Dunlap
purchased from James Brice Lot No. 19 in the plan of Washington, fronting 60 feet on
Market, now Main Street, and 240 feet on Maiden street, for $800. This consideration
indicates that a building of some sort stood on the property. He improved it by the
erection of a better house, for on March 7, 1818, he sold the lot to Thomas
McGiffin for $4,000.
On March 28, 1814, Dunlap purchased from Thomas Hallam 208 acres on both
sided of the Redstone Road, at the eastern end of Pancake. He named this farm Mount
Vernon, and, as the National Pike was to be built along the Redstone Road he
believed this would be a good location for a tavern, which he opened the next
year as shown by the following advertisement in The Reporter of October 23, 1815:
General George Washington
Mount Vernon Hotel
James Dunlap begs leave to inform the public and his friends, that
He has just opened a Public House at the sign of General George
Washington,, two and a half miles from the town borough of
Washington, on the Brownsville road, where he will endeavor to
Accommodate those who may please to call with him.
Mount Vernon Farm, September 1815.
Dunlap had previously conducted a hotel in Washington in Washington at “The Sign
of George Washington.” Little as known of this inn beyond his advertisement in
The Western Telegraphe of March 19, 1804, in which he says that he will on April 1,
open a tavern at “The Sign of George Washington,” lately known as the Black Horse,
occupied by Captain Charles Fox.
Dunlap must have been a restless man, not willing to wait the few years
necessary for the completion of the pike, for in 1817 he advertised his hotel
and farm for sale, as shown in The Reporter of January 13, 1817. By that time he
had dropped the name “General George Washington,” and called his establishment
“Mount Vernon Hotel,” as shown by the advertisement:
Mount Vernon Hotel
Farm For Sale
two and a half miles from Washington, containing
230 Acres of Land;
upwards to 100 acres cleared; an excellent well and pump; a
Good Large Barn
and all improvements necessary for to make a public stand comfortable,
and convenient. The Farm is in good order, with an
and the national turnpike road runs through the same, before the tavern
door. It is thought unnecessary to state every advantage this farm is
possessed of, as any person inclined to purchase will first view the
January 6, James Dunlap
N.B. If not sold by the 1st of, April next, it will be for rent, to any person
Who will keep a respectable public house, none others need apply,--Any
person renting this stand can be accommodated with a number of new beds
and furniture, &c, Farming utensils also.
There was no purchaser and evidently no one rented the hotel, for on
March 29 he advertised in The Examiner a more detailed description of
the Mount Vernon plantation, as many farms in this county were called in those
days. The description of the hotel gives four rooms on the first floor and four
above, with a good kitchen and cellar. There were:
“A large barn and new shed, including stabling for 70 horses. An orchard of
apple, peach and plum trees. An excellent garden and other improvements.
The situation is elevated, airy and very pleasant, affording a most delightful
view of the surrounding country. Some charming springs of water on the farm.—Near
the tavern house and on the turnpike, there is a smith shop with a small dwelling
But in spite of this alluring description the plantation was not sold, for
Dunlap still conducted the tavern in 1822. His next move was to lay out a town
site on part of his farm. This was the original Williamsburg by which the place
was known until Jonathan Martin laid out Martinsburg. On April 21, 1817, Dunlap
advertised in The Reporter the sale of lots:
New Town Of
The subscriber having laid out a number of LOTS on the north-western end of his
farm, where the United States turnpike road passes through, proposes to sell by
way of public sale on Saturday, the 3rd of May Nest, the whole of the aforesaid lots.
Persons wishing to purchase are invited to attend. Sale to begin at 12 o’clock
precisely, where terms of sale will be made known and a plot of the town exhibited.
I consider it unnecessary to give any further description of this town as persons
wishing to purchase will attend and judge for themselves
This advertisement marks James Dunlap as one of Washington County’s
first real estate boomers in laying out subdivisions. This was the beginning of
modern Pancake. The name Williamsburg did not stick, and it was eventually named
for an unimportant man who owned two lots and lived there only a few years. But, for
his name of Pancake he never would have been heard of again.
The number of lots in Williamsburg is not known, for no plan is on record,
and the result of his sale on May 3 seems rather doubtful, as the only deed in 1817
is dated October 20, for two lots. Only six more lots were sold during the next seven
years, the last being on April 15, 1824.
That Dunlap still operated his tavern in 1822 is shown by an advertisement
in The Examiner of April 8, in which he offered $500 reward for information that
would convict the person or persons who set fire to the building in five different
places on the night of April 5. The advertisement gives a complete account of
this incendiaries and what might have been a tragedy in which their children
narrowly escaped being burned to death.
On April 4, Dunlap and his wife went to Brownsville, where they
expected to remain until next day. The only person left was a colored man who
also expected to be away that night; but fortunately, they changed their
plans, and returned that evening. Two other persons were guests at the inn that
night—Miss Rebecca Fox and Isaac H.T. Inskeep, of Romney, Virginia, now
Between 1 and 2 o’clock in the morning of the 5th, Miss Fox and Inskeep
were awakened by smoke in their respective rooms. They aroused the family, and
with great effort the building, which Dunlap says, was of wood, was saved. An
investigation disclosed that fire had been started in five different places on
the outside, and, as the advertisement states, to “encircle the dwelling in one
column of flame before the children could possibly escape.”
Dunlap said that the “internal beings must have had acquaintance with
the dogs kept about the house; also, a perfect knowledge of the situation of the
premises, because the dogs made little or no alarm at the time, although they are
quite fierce and noisy when strangers approach by night. This fact is circumstantial
proof that the diabolical attempt was made by some enemy disguise.
In conclusion, he tendered “his most heart-felt thanks to Miss Rebecca Fox
and Mr. Isaac H.T. Inskeep, for their intrepidity and great activity in saving
his property from the imminent danger in which it was placed.”
Nothing appears in the old newspaper files to show or indicate that the
guilty parties were ever apprehended. This advertisement appeared in each
issue of The Examiner (a weekly) until May 20.
Dunlap operated the Mount Vernon Tavern until April 9, 1825, when he
removed to Washington to take charge of the Jackson Hotel, now the Auld House. The
name had been changed from Travellers’ Inn and Stage Office after General
Andrew Jackson stopped there on November 29, 1824. Dunlap remained only a
few months and on September 12, 1825, turned the Jackson Hotel over to John
On that date, he sold his Mount Vernon farm to William Hunter for $3,000,
and then dropped out of sight.
The present brick house was evidently erected by Robert Officer, who purchased
the Mount Vernon Farm from Hunter on July 17, 1832, together with two lots in
Williamsburg, for $3,500. This consideration, only $500 more than Hunter had paid
seven years before, indicates that the old tavern of Dunlap’s time was still
Rettig followed Dunlap as tavern keeper and erected the present building.
This seems doubtful, for Rettig did not but the farm until April 24, 1851, when he
purchased from Robert Officer for $5,052, 126 acres of the 205 Officer had bought
from Hunter in 1832. This consideration indicated that Officer erected the house.
That Rettig followed Dunlap in the tavern is possible, for I have found no record
that either Hunter or Officer erected the house. That Rettig followed Dunlap in
the tavern is possible, for I have found no record that either Hunter or Officer
operated a hotel at this place, Rettig probably rented the property until he
purchased it in 1851.
Walter Rettig, of Washington, a grandson of Charles Rettig, told me that
his father, Samuel Rettig, often talked about his boyhood days on this farm. On one
occasion, Charles sent Samuel and another son to Burson’s Distillery where they
bought whisky in those old-time five-gallon demijohns. The liquor was stored in
the cellar of the Rettig house, and when the farm hands came in from work, especially
at harvest time, they were told to help themselves. This was an old-time custom among
all farmers a hundred years and more ago.
The old Mount Vernon Tavern house was purchased by Dr. Paul B. Riggle in
recent years, and has been completely renovated, and the grounds landscaped for his
GEORGE PANCAKE'S TAVERN
An air of mystery hovers around the name of George Pancake, one of the
early settlers at the little village of that name just east of Washington. Where he
came from, when and what became of him are questions that will probably never be
answered. He was here for 12 years, and then drifted on west to Ohio.
Searight says that he conducted the first tavern at this point, a log cabin
erected around the beginning of the 19th century; but this is very doubtful.
If he came as early as around 1800 he did not own any land, and as land
then was to be had almost for the taking it does not seem possible that he
was there at that early date. The old records in the Recorder’s Office show that
he first appeared on the scene about 1815, when he purchased nine and three-quarters
acres from Christian Dustman on March 2, for $160. This land is not described
sufficiently to locate it definitely today.
On January 1, 1816, Pancake sold this land to Jesse Woodruff for $160.
Both he and his wife signed their marks, not uncommon in those days.
He next appears on the scene on December 1, 18181, when he purchased lot No.
20, in Williamsburg, from Jonathan Martin for $35. Each lot fronted 60 feet on
Union street, and extended back 198 feet. Both had been sold to Martin by James
Dunlap. As no plan of Williamsburg has been found it is believed that Union street
was the National Pike.
On March 18, 1818, Dunlap sold 15 acres of Mount Vernon farm to Jonathan
Martin for $1,108.43. This probably included most of the unsold lots in Williamsburg,
or it may have been an additional tract.
Pancake did not keep the first tavern at this point. That honor belongs to
James Dunlap’s Mount Vernon stand, which he opened as early as September 1815. In
spite of all efforts to change, the name of Pancake has clung to this village through
more than 135 years. First it was Williamsburg, then Martinsburg, and finally
Laboratory after Dr. Byron Clark secured a post office for his patent medicine
mail order business. But, everyone called it Pancake, and Pancake it still
is because it struck the popular fancy as the name of America’s most popular
The only evidence that George Pancake kept a tavern in this village is
found in an advertisement in The Reporter of June 7, 1824:
The subscriber intending to remove to the state of Ohio, this fall,
offers his Tavern Stand For Rent, situated on the National Road,
2 miles east
of Washington. The stand is equal in situation to almost any other on the
road—there is a house, kitchen, stable and shed with a pump at the door, two
full lots of ground. The rent will be low, and possession will be given the
first of November.
In consequence of his determination to remove, he requests all
indebted to him to come forward before the 22d of JUNE, instant, and make payment.
All who neglect this notice may rest assured that their accounts, notes,
and due-bills will be placed in the hands of officers for collection
immediately after that time.
June 7, 1824 George Pancake.
It will be noticed that in this advertisement the name is spelled Pankake,
although in all deeds it is Pancake.
There is nothing to show that he rented the tavern, and he evidently remained
here until 1828, for on January 14, of that year, “George Pancake and Elizabeth
Pancake, his wife, of Washington County,” conveyed lots., Nos. 19 and 20 with buildings
and improvements to Jonathan Martin for $100. All record of George Pancake in
Washington County ends with this deed, and it is probably that he went to Ohio as
he had announced in 1824.
I am indebted to Attorney George Weaver for the location of lots Nos. 19
and 209 where the tavern stood, as no plan of Williamsburg has been found. With much
patience Mr. Weaver made a plot of Williamsburg from deeds on records. This shows
the tavern was on the north side of the pike, just about opposite the point
where the road to Waynesburg leaves the pike, of possibly a lot or two east of this
After James Dunlap went out of business the most important tavern
in the village was kept by Jonathan Martin all through the prosperous years
of the pike. This was a large brick house of 12 rooms, two stories high, which
is still standing on the north side of the road. It was equipped with all of the
comforts of that day for the accommodation of travelers. The bar was in the first
room on the left, and the large front porch is said to have been built when the
house was erected in 1825.
Unlike Major Dunlap, Jonathan Martin was a successful tavern keeper, and
made money at the business. This is explained by Searight, who describes him as
a genial landlord. His reputation for the excellence of his meals and for always
looking to the comfort of his guests is a tradition that has come down through
the years Any tavern with this reputation was always popular, and it is a tradition
that practically every man of note who passed that way always stopped for a few
minutes at least.
According to Searight, General Jackson was a guest on one occasion, and the
Rev. Alexander Campbell frequently lodged there. One of the early churches of
the Christian denomination was located in the village, on a lot donated by Martin.
However, I have found no evidence that Jackson was ever a guest there. It
is probably just on of the Jackson legends.
In addition to his tavern, Martin operated a horsepower gristmill and carding
machine for a number of years in the rear of the hotel.
Martin laid out a plan of lots adjoining the plot of Williamsburg, which
he had purchased from Dunlap, and named it Martinsburg by which the village was
officially known for many years, although to the stage drivers and Pike Boys it
was always Pancake. They liked that name better, for the thought of it gave anticipation
and satisfaction to their stomachs. No record has been found of the plan of
Martinsburg, but it was a flourishing village during all the days of pike
travel and down to the present.
Jonathan Martin died during the latter part of June or early July, 1871,
as his will, in which he referred to the village of Martinsburg, was probated July
7, or that year. The home farm was left to his wife, Charlotte, during her lifetime.
Both he and his wife are buried in the Washington Cemetery, by his direction.
The Misses Rachel and Lottie Martin, two granddaughters of Jonathan Martin,
lived together in a frame house just around the corner of the road to Waynesburg.
They are daughters of Joshua Martin. They are lifelong Companions and in death
they were not separated, for both died of pneumonia within two days of each other,
Rachel on April 2, 1931, aged 82, and Lottie on April 4, 1931, aged 72. A double
funeral was held in the Laboratory Community Church.
After Dr. Byron Clark moved to Washington in the 1870’s he continued his
patent medicine mail order business, and established a laboratory for the
manufacture of his products at Pancake. If there was a post office in the village,
and there probably was, he did not like the name of either Pancake or Martinsburg,
and upon his application the department, created the office named Laboratory,
after his medicine factory, and made him postmaster. The salary of the postmaster at
these small offices was the sum of the stamps cancelled, and Dr. Clark received rather
a sizeable amount from his source. The official name of the village is still
Laboratory, although it is generally known as Pancake.
(To Be Continued)
For part 14 of The National Pike Story For part 16 of The National Pike Story