(Continued From Yesterday)
When General Zachary Taylor was on his way to Washington City for his
inauguration he unexpectedly passed through Washington. He had planned to go
up the Ohio River to Pittsburgh, but the steamboat on which he had taken passage
from Cincinnati was stopped by ice 16 miles below Wheeling. A full account is
given in The Reporter of February 28, 1849.
A telegram from Wheeling announced that he had left the boat at the point
mentioned and traveled to Wheeling in a private conveyance, and he would arrive in
Washington during the morning of February 21. A committee of arrangements previously
appointed before it was know that he intended to go to Pittsburgh, got busy
and arranged a reception. His coach was met at Rankinville (Rankintown), one mile
west of the borough by the committee and just about everyone else in town who could
secure a conveyance, and many on foot. Searight says that Jack Bailess drove General
From Rankinville the procession entered Washington, led by Captain Stoy’s Saxe
Horn Band, followed by an open barouche in which were General Taylor, General Joseph
Markle, and Hon. Thomas M.T. McKeenan. Immediately behind was a long line of carriages
and just about every other kind of conveyance, all filled with people, and a long
throng marching on foot.
General Taylor was received, in front of the Courthouse, by John L. Gow, Esq.;
who delivered a brief address of welcome. The general responded with much feeling at
such a reception on short notice. Mr. Knox, of the Pittsburgh committee, made a
brief address. At the conclusion of the ceremonies General Taylor was driven to
the Mansion House “where a sumptuous dinner had been prepared by Messrs. Bryson and
Shirls of which the general and suite partook.”
After the dinner the general was introduced to a large number of citizens
“who were all greatly delighted with his agreeable manners, noble, frank and
honest countenance.” Shortly before 2 o’clock, he took his departure for
Uniontown where he arrived at 7 o’clock.
In describing this reception for the President-elect, who was to die
in office, The Reporter says:
Our town presented an animated scene on this occasion. We have never
known so intense an anxiety on the part of our people to see any man as was manifested
by both Sexes and men of all parties. So dense and eager was the crowd, that at times
we thought the old men and such as had not physical strength to resist the press of
the throng, would have been crushed in the general rush of the multitude. Everything
passed off, however, very agreeably. All were gratified with a sight of the illustrious
hero whose great actions have reflected imperishable renown upon our arms, and won for
our country a proud name among the nations of the earth.
Stoy’s band performed to admiration and elicited encomiums on all
hands. Next to General Taylor it was the great point of attraction. It is a
matter of felicitation that our Borough can boast so gentlemanly an association.
It seems rather a strange coincidence that just four days after Taylor’s
visit, General Lewis Cass, the Democratic opponent whom the Mexican War hero had
defeated for the Presidency should arrive in Washington. Although defeated for
the highest office in the land, he had been elected as United States Senator from
Michigan. He arrived here on Sunday, February 25, and stopped long enough for dinner.
The Reporter account of February 28, 1849, does not state at what hotel he
stopped, but he was called upon by a number of citizens. The Reporter, a Whig
paper, hoped that The Examiner would reprove General Cass for traveling on
Sunday. He came here from Wheeling on that day, and The Reporter said that he should
have laid over on Sunday at Wheeling, as he did not have to reach “Washington,
D.C., until March 5 to take his seat in the Senate.
S.B. & C. Hayes were succeeded as proprietors of the Mansion House by
Harrison Sharls and James W. Kuntz Sr. The date of this change is not known, but
two months later Hugh Bryson bought Kuntz’s interest. Sharls and Bryson were in
charge during General Taylor’s visit. Proprietors after Shirls and Bryson were
William Nichols and James B. Ruple. Thornton F. Miller, Harvey and Daniel Day,
John H. Little Samuel Melvin and George R. Kirk.
John N. Dagg died in 1860, a rich man for his time. In the early 1830’s,
he erected a residence at the northeast corner of East Chestnut and North College
streets. This was a very picturesque and rather odd dwelling with the second
story over the sidewalk, where it stood for many years. No other house was ever
build in Washington quite like it. It was razed about 30 years ago when the present
Atlantic service station was erected on the site.
The Mansion House was completely destroyed by fire on April 16, 1866 by
fire on April 16, 1866, and was never rebuilt. George B. Kirk was proprietor at
THE SIGN OF THE CROSSED KEYS
This was a large two-story frame building (probably logs covered with lap
siding) at the southeast corner of South Main and East Wheeling streets, where the
Montgomery building, occupied by the West Penn Power Company, now stands.
The first record of this tavern was in 1801 when William McCammont (some
give the name as James McCammont) opened a public house in this building, which
was probably new at that time. He kept this stand until his death on January
14, 1814, as noted in The Reporter of January 17. This account states that
he died “after a short but painful illness.” There is an old tradition that his
death was caused by the bite of a mad wolfe. This may be true, judging from the
announcement of a “short but painful illness.” Many wolves infested Washington
County at that time, and large numbers were afflicted with rabies. It is claimed
that this disease wiped them out of Western Pennsylvania.
Whatever his illness, he knew that he was going to die, and on January 11 he
made his will, which was probated on the 15th. The will names his wife as Mary
McCammant, who was a tavern keeper here for many years. He left a son named James.
Mrs. McCammant continued to operate the hotel until April 3, 1815, when
she moved to “The Sign of General Washington,” nearly opposite the Courthouse.
James Sargent, proprietor of “The Sign of the Swan,” succeeded her at the Crossed
Keys, and remained until April 10, 1820, when Mrs. McCammant returned. This is
shown by her advertisement in The Reporter of that date. Just how long she remained
is not known; but in January, 1831, she advertised that during the term of court:
“Dinner and horse feed, 25 cents; jurors and others attending court, $2 per week.”
Others who followed her were Charles Rettig, John Bradfield, William
Blakely, and Otho Hazlett. By 1844, the Cross Keys had closed as a tavern and was
The Warrick Grocery was opened, in a corner room of this building, in 1858
by George M. Warrick, grandfather of Earl Warrick, the present owner of the business.
In 1891, the old building was razed by A.J. Montgomery, the owner, and
the present building erected.
Fortunately, a photograph, of the old tavern was taken, by the late
George Montgomery, during the winter of 1890-91, shortly before it was torn
down. It is an interesting picture of the olden times. Snow covered the
ground, and at the side were a number of barrels. Men are seen standing in groups
and on Wheeling street is a farmer’s shed, and a one-horse sleigh or cutter.
If an artist had posed, these groups the picture could not have been better.
During all the years that had passed since it was a tavern the old
dinner bell stood on a high post in the old wagon yard in the rear, and Mr.
Montgomery saved this ancient relic of the Cross Keys. He placed it on his wash
house, and for many years it was used to call the farm hands to their meals.
There it remained until 1949, when it was removed and presented to the Washington
Before presenting it the Montgomery family had it mounted in an
iron frame on which is a brass plaque with this inscription:
“Presented by the Family of Martha Black Montgomery January 31, 1949.”
Mrs. Martha Black Montgomery was the wife of A. J. Montgomery and
the mother of the late George Montgomery.
Dr. John Julius LeMoyne, father of Dr. Francis Julius LeMoyne, operated
a tavern for a short time after coming to Washington in 1795 or 1796, in connection
with his drug store. This was a log building on South Main street, at the foot
of Gallows Hill. At that time this location was on the old trail West. Dr. LeMoyne
entertained principally French emigrants on their way to Gallipolis, Ohio.
However, his drug store kept him busy, and after a short time he moved to another
log building, north of the corner of Maiden street, where his son was born. He
ceased the tavern business in his new location.
On the north side of East Maiden street, a short distance east of Main,
is a large stone house, one of the most historic homes on the National Pike. Built
in 1812, by Dr. John Julius LeMoyne, this was the home of the LeMoyne family until
the death of his granddaughter 131 years later. Since that massive stone house
was built 142 years ago every form of land conveyance has rolled past on the old
National Pike—the packhorse before the pike was built, the Conestoga wagon,
the stage coach, the Iron Horse only a few feet away, the automobile, the
motor bus and even big Navy dirigibles have flow overhead. On September 22, 1954,
a Conestoga wagon returned to stop for a short time in front of its doors.
Francis J. LeMoyne was only 14 when his father moved into the new family
home, and there he spent the remainder of his life. As a young man of 24 Dr. Francis
J. LeMoyne became actively interested freedom of slaves in the United States.
When he became interested in any subject he immediately became active, and his
tireless work in this cause earned him a national reputation as the first fighting
abolitionist and the title of “Fearless Advocate of the Right,” which is engraved
on the stone that covers his ashes in front of the crematory which he built on
Gallows Hill in 1876. He founded an abolition society in Washington when the
cause was very unpopular here, but in a few short years he made it popular.
He organized an “Underground Railroad to aid slaves on their way to Canada
before John Brown was ever heard of, and later he was associated with Brown in the
underground movement. This house was a station on that famous “road” to
Canada and freedom, and he had as many as 26 escaping slaves concealed at one
time in a secret room in the third floor.
In the yard at the side the famous abolition meeting of 1836 was held, at
which the Rev. Samuel Gould, guarded by a dozen brawny men armed with stout clubs,
spoke in the cause of freedom of slaves, to a hostile gathering in the street. And
on the third-story roof garden of the house a LeMoyne boy stood ready with a long
pole to push a hive of bees over into the yard in case the crowd should get past
the guards. How that boy with LeMoyne blood in his veins ever resisted the
temptation to push the hive over anyway, is a mystery to this day.
Dr. LeMoyne’s interest in the Negro race did not cease with their
emancipation, which he had labored so many years to bring about; and in 1870, he
founded LeMoyne College, at Nashville, Tennessee, for their education. Opened
in 1871, it is still a going institution. He founded the Citizens Free Library
in 1870, and in 1876 built the first crematory in the United States, in which he
was cremated on October 16, 1876.
Dr. Francis J. LeMoyne’s youngest daughter, Madeleine, was born in this
house on May 8, 1843, and like her father she was active in some good cause all her
long life. Past that house, Captain Norton McGiffin marched with the first company
that left Washington on April 20, 1861, in answer to President Lincoln’s call
for volunteers; and they marched amid the cheers of the crowd on the sidewalk and
the flag waving of the LeMoyne girls gathered along the fence, young Robert
Reed, a soldier in the ranks, tossed a note tied to a stone over the fence—a love
note to the girl he left behind, telling the beautiful young Madeleine LeMoyne
how much he loved her. They never saw each other again. A few weeks later he died
of smallpox in a military hospital in Washington, D. C.; and 46 years afterwards
Madeleine LeMoyne married his older brother, George W. Reed.
Among the childhood memories of Madeleine LeMoyne were visits made by John
Brown to her father in the interest of the Underground Railway, and she remembered
vividly the time when her father had those 26 escaped slaves in that secret room
in the third floor.
In 1866 Madeleine LeMoyne accompanied an older sister, Romaine Wade, to
Richmond, Virginia, on a visit to Julia Robertson Pierpont, wife of Francis Pierpont,
the Union Governor of Virginia appointed just after the war closed. Her memories
of the war torn Confederate capital and the feelings of the conquered Southern
people remained vividly with her all the rest of her life.
She rode in every kind of travel conveyance during her life. On June 24,
1936, at the age of 92, she made her first journey by airplane—from Washington,
D.C., to Pittsburgh—and thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Her only comment was: “It
was nearly as bumpy as a buggy in the old days, I felt at home riding up there.”
After living a little more than a century in the house where she was born,
her life crowded with activities to the very last, Mrs. Madeleine LeMoyne
Reed, Washington’s “First Lady,” its oldest citizen, and the last child of Dr.
Francis J. LeMoyne, died October 26, 1943, in the old homestead. John Adams was
President and George Washington was still living when her father was born, and
when she died 145 years later the span of their combined lives covered the
administration of every President of the United States, including Franklin
D. Roosevelt, except one—George Washington.
THE SIGN OF THE BUCK TAVERN
This tavern, later known as Huston’s Home Inn, was in a stone house that
stood for more than a hundred years on the east side of South Main street, just
south of the corner of Maiden.
From available records not later than 1795, for at the January 1796, term
of court, Joseph Huston was licensed to keep a tavern at “The Sign of The Buck.”
He was a cousin of William Huston, Washington’s first white settler, who
accommodated travelers at this log cabin as early as 1774.
Joseph Huston conducted this inn until his death in 1812, after which
his widow, Elizabeth, continued the business for a short time and then sold to
James Sargent a tavern keeper at different locations in both Washington and
Claysville. In April, 1815, Mrs. Huston again took charge, and continued to
operate it until October 1821, when James Fleming took charge.
This change is shown by an advertisement in The Reporter of October 29,
1821, in which ____ing announced, “that he has commenced tavern keeping again
in that well known stand at the Sign of the Buck, formerly kept by Mrs. Elizabeth
Huston, three doors south from the corner of Main street, where the United States
turnpike enters Main street from the east.”
Mrs. Huston married a Fleming, probably, James, and he continued the
business. How long he remained is not known; but in 1838, after his death, she
operated this tavern as Elizabeth Fleming. Her son, William B. Huston, conducted
“Huston’s Home Inn” for several years after his mother’s death. This quaint stone
house stood, one of the landmarks of old Washington town, until 1902 when it was
razed and the present building was erected on the site.
WILLIAM HUSTON’S TAVERN
It is interesting to note in connection with the Huston family that William
Huston, the first white settler at Catfish Camp, kept a tavern of sorts. This was
in his log cabin that stood on the lot now occupied by the Fifth Ward School, where
he accommodated chance travelers over the trail to the Ohio country.
On the night of April 29, 1774, George Rogers Clark and a party of
frontiersmen, in which was Captain Michael Cresap, who were on their way east
from, the Ohio River, stopped with William Huston.
Ann Huston, his daughter, was the first white child born in Catfish Camp.
She married John Bollen, a shoemaker, and lived in South Main street, opposite
Huston’s Home Inn, until 1811, when they moved to Amwell Township. Mrs. P.H.
Yourke, of LeMoyne avenue, is a lineal descendant.
(To Be Continued)
For part 18 of The National Pike Story For part 20 of The National Pike Story