(Continued From Yesterday)
KELLY’S “S” BRIDGE TAVERN Picture
Searight tells us that in early times a tavern was located at each
end of the “S” Bridge, but they closed up before 1840. However, Miss Katherine
Kelly informed me that there was only one tavern, on land owned by her
grandfather, James Kelly.
During an interview with Miss Kelly in November 1953, she gave me
much interesting history of this old stand, famous in its day, and later
furnished a photograph of the building as it appeared in the 1880s. She was
unable to give the date the tavern was erected, but from the photograph and
her description of its type of construction it must have been early in the
James Kelly, for many years manager of the Hoge estate in Washington,
owned a large tract of land at this point, and probably built the tavern
building. The house was two-stories, constructed of brick covered with
lap siding, and across the front was a two-story porch. Miss Kelly recalled
that when she was a child, she and her brothers and sisters often played
on the second story of the porch, and when they wanted to go to the first floor
or the yard they slid down the heavy columns that supported the balcony. It was
more fun than going into the house and down the stairway.
The tavern faced on the pike with a large stone watering tough in front
for the accommodation of horses hauling stages and Conestoga wagons. This was
a relay station, and when stages stopped to water horses or to change teams,
travelers seized the opportunity to get a drink at the bar.
James Kelly never operated the tavern; but rented it to a may named Boyle,
and to the best of Miss Kelly’s recollection he was the only proprietor.
LAFAYETTE’S LOST SEAL.
When General LaFayette passed over the National Pike from Wheeling to
Washington on May 25, 1825, he partook of refreshments at West Alexander and
Claysville. The previous name of the tavern at which he dined at West Alexander
is not known definitely, but it may have been the American Eagle. At any
rate Joseph Lawson was the proprietor who entertained the noted Frenchman, and
from that day until the building was razed over a century later it was the
“LaFayette Inn.” Contemporary accounts state that he stopped at Claysville, probably
at Calohan’s Tavern, later kept by David Bell. The party was met at Claysville by
an escort of cavalry and then came on to Washington.
While the old newspaper accounts make no mention of stopping again
before reaching Washington, there is a tradition in the Kelly family that
LaFayette was at the “S” Bridge Tavern. This is undoubtedly correct, for
the cavalcade would stop here to change and water the horses, and the
travelers, _____?, and cavalry escort, no doubt, partook of liquid refreshments
at the bar.
Proof that LaFayette did stop here was found about 75 years later. While
Miss Katherine Kelly’s sister was digging in the garden she found a small
seal with the name “LaFayette” engraved backwards on an amber colored stone,
probably onyx, mounted in silver. On the back is a small hole where a ring or
handle was broken off. Miss Kelly showed it to me, and there can be no doubt that
it is genuine. The stone is one-half inch wide and five-eights of an inch long.
The “La” is about the “Fayette.” The logical explanation is that while the general
was walking around the tavern it fell from his watch chain or a finger ring.
Miss Kelly’s great-grandfather fought in the Revolution, and was a great
admirer of LaFayette. Once when he was in Paris after the war he had a miniature
of the general pained on glass. Her father, Andrew Jackson Kelly, clerk of
the House of Representatives during President Polk’s administration.
When the old tavern was burned, on the night of February 27, 1899, one
of the historic buildings on the pike in Washington County passed from the
scene. The present Kelly home was built the next year on the same location.
About half way up the hill west of Kelly’s, on the old route of the pike,
is a small stone arch known in the old days as Wicker’s Bridge, from a murder
committed there long ago. This is the first of two bridges on the hill. Harry
M. McDowell told me the story which had been related to him by his grandfather,
John McDowell. During the early days the body of a man, his name long forgotten,
was found at this bridge. A man named Wicker, who lived nearby, had cherished a
grudge against the dead man, and, and according to the old story, Wicker
murdered him, threw the body over this bridge, and killed some sheep and threw
them on the corpse so that the sheep’s blood would hide the blood of the
This is probably the same murder related by Searight, who says that the
body of a blacksmith named McSwiggin was found at this point. The murderer was
never apprehended, although, according to Searight, suspicion fell on one Andrew
Caldwell, who was no relation to James Caldwell, the tavern keeper.
This bridge was the scene of a fatal stage coach accident in 1846
in which Clark Moses, of Louisville, Kentucky, was fatally injured, and James
Walker, the driver, was seriously hurt. The details of this have already been given
under “A Fatal Accident on the Road.”
At the top of the long hill west of the “S” Bridge was the old Caldwell
Tavern, a large brick house on the south side of the road, James Caldwell owned and
operated this stand from the time of the pike was opened until he died in 1838.
After his death his widow, Hester Caldwell, took charge and conducted the
business until 1873. This long record of 35 years makes her one of the oldest
tavern keepers on the road. She was the mother of A.B. Caldwell, founder of the
Caldwell Store in Washington.
The original building burned in 1882, and A.B. Caldwell immediately erected
an exact duplicate on the same spot. The new house, operated for many years by
J.A. Gordon, was a popular place for sleighing parties from Washington and
After the old Children’s Home, at Arden, was burned on the night of
February 12, 1899, Washington County rented this house and used it as a Children’s
Home until the present building was erected at Arden.
The second Caldwell house was burned in later years, and the children of
A.B. Caldwell erected another on the same site.
Searight says that half a mile west of Caldwell’s the widow Brownlee
kept a tavern in a frame house on the south side of the road during the early
days of the pike. Robert Hall followed Mrs. Brownlee at this stand, and on
his retirement it ceased to be a tavern. The building has long since disappeared,
and I was unable to find anyone who had ever heard of it.
Again I refer to Searight, who says that on top of the hill west of
Brownlee’s stand, another widow named McClelland kept a tavern 60 years ago.
Searight wrote this about 1893 which would place the date near 1833. He says
further that the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad passes through a tunnel near this
old tavern. I was unable to locate the site, and no one in that vicinity had ever
heard of it; but John Montgomery, of Claysville, told me that it was burned at
least 50 years ago.
The next point on the line of the old pike is the historic town of
Claysville, laid out by John Purviance in 1817 and named for the great statesman
of that time, Henry Clay, called the “Father of the National Road.” Crumrine
says that Purviance kept the first tavern at this location, and when it was certain
that the National Pike would pass here he laid out a town.
As near as I can determine it was in 1807 that Purviance came from Washington,
where he had conducted a tavern, for on July 12, of that year, he purchased form
Jonathan D. Leet, 175 acres of a larger tract of land called “Superfine
Bottom.” This was patented November 20, 1789, to Thomas Waller on a warrant
dated February 25, 1785. It was on the 175-acre track that Purviance later
laid out his town in 1817:
is distant ten miles from Washington, westward,
and about 18 miles from Wheeling, and six of
Alexandria. The great national road from
Cumberland to Wheeling, as located by Col.
Williams, and confirmed by the President, and
now rapidly progressing towards its completion,
passes directly thro’ the town. The lots each
contain a front 50 feet on the road, and a
depth of 200 feet, with suitable and convenient
avenues of each block of lots. The site of the
town is beautiful, well watered, a fertile
country around it, and a good population. To
persons who may purchase and improve the
present season, the subscriber will give timber
for any frame building that may be put up
without price. On the day of the sale the terms
of credit will be made know.
Washington, April 21, 1817.
Perhaps the real estate brokers of today got their first lessons from
some of those old advertisements, for old time real estate boomers were
certainly not behind the present generation in describing their subdivisions.
The expectations of John Purviance were quickly realized, for
Claysville became an important town even before the pike was completed, and
during some 30 years of the history of the road it kept this position with
seven prosperous taverns.
The lots sold well, and Samuel Sherr is given credit for building the first
house after the town was laid out; and in 1818 the people raised $255.50 for the
erection of a school house. This sum would not build much of a school today, but
136 years ago it was a lot of money.
Jacob Weirich paid $201 for Lot No. 1 at the corner of Lawrence (now Main)
and Greene streets; and Jacob Weirich Jr., bought Lot No. 9 on another corner of
Lawrence and Greene street. Other purchasers were George Wilson, Lot No. 38; Joseph
Henderson, Lot No. 35; John Griffith, Lot No. 53, and Joseph Thompson, lots 2
In 1818 Purviance sold 16 lots, eight in 1819, and before his death
in 1820 or 1821 he sold 33.
Colonel Purviance died intestate as shown by a deed dated November 21,
1821, from Ann Purviance, administratrix and Richard Donaldson, administrator,
to Alexander Caldwell for Lots 3 and 58.
George Wilson, who bought two lots, No. 10 on the south side and No. 38 on
the north side of Lawrence street, on September 8, 1817, opened the first general
store, and did a thriving business during the construction of the pike through
that section. Wilson established the first manufacturing plant in which he made
cheap clothing of cotton and linen. But, he soon had opposition, for Alexander Chapman
purchased Lots 7 and 9 at the corner of Lawrence and Greene streets, and
opened another store. He too, did a thriving business.
Later called Calohan’s and then the Bell House. Crumrine says that after the
old road to Wheeling was opened through this action not long after 1800, John
Purviance started a tavern in a large two-story long house, on the lot later occupied
by David Bell. This early tavern is described as having three rooms on the lower
floor and four on the upper.
My investigation has disclosed that this tavern stood on Lots Nos. 5 and 6,
at the corner of Lawrence and Spring streets of the later Claysville plan.
On September 14, 1818, Purviance sold this property to Daniel Calohan for
Calohan began keeping this tavern immediately, and operated it
until his death 12 years later. Although Crumrine says that Mrs. Kelly demolished
the big long building when she was proprietor, it now seems most probable that it
was razed by Calohan and that he erected the brick building that was the Bell House
many years later. Evidently Crumrine did not know that Mrs. Kelly was
Calohan’s wife, Rachel, who later became Mrs. Kelly; but this is definitely
established in old deeds.
As trade from the pike began to bloom in Claysville during the
construction period of the pike, Calohan evidently realized that this would be a
good location for tavern business, and it is reasonable to believe that he
erected the brick building around 1820, when the road was completed through
the county or shortly afterwards. This new building contained 11 rooms, at least
that was the number when it was razed more than a hundred years later. A frame
addition of 11 rooms more was added afterwards. Whether this was during Calohan’s
time or when his wife conducted the business is not certain, but it was probably
erected by Calohan himself, for he did a thriving business during those
fabulous years of the 1820s. Searight gives this early proprietor bare
mention and does not locate his stand. He took it for granted that Bell was the
proprietor during most of the pike era at least.
Calohan died in 1831, for in October 1831, the Court ordered the sale
of his tavern for the payment of depts.. This is shown by an advertisement in
The Examiner of November 12, 1831:
PURSUANT TO AN ORDER
OF THE ORPHAN’S COURT
Held at Washington,
for the county of Washington the 1st
Monday of October last,
Will be exposed at Public Sale
in the town of Claysville, in
Washington county, Pa., on the
premises, on Wednesday, the
7th day of December, next,
the large and commodious
and appurtenances, the late
property of Daniel Calohan,
and has for a number of years
been the STAGE OFFICE. The
house is brick, large and convenient.
Stabling sufficient to
Accommodate sixty or seventy
horses. A good well of water
and pump near the door. The
lot of ground is about 100 feet
front and 200 back.
There are also on the premises
A Cooper’s Shop, Saddler’s
Shop, and Wagon Maker’s Shop.
The terms of sale will be
One third cash, and the balance
in two annual payments. Good
security to be given
Surviving Administrator October 25th, 1831.
The deeds show that on April 16, 1832, Thomas Calohan, administrator,
conveyed the property, Lots 5 and 6 “upon which is a Tavern House,” to Rachel
Calohan for $1,550. A previous deed dated April 1, 1830, shows that she was the
wife of Daniel Calohan.
An interesting Fourth of July celebration, held in Claysville in 1832,
is of special interest in the history of the pike at Claysville; for Mrs. Calohan
served the dinner on that occasion, shortly after she took chard of the tavern.
The Examiner of July 21, 1832, gives a detailed description. I
am describing the celebration for it shows how towns along the pike in Washington
County celebrated Independence Day 125 years ago.
The Claysville Invincible Guards, the local militia company commanded
by Captain John Barr, were joined by a large number of citizens, probably everybody
in Claysville and the surrounding country. A little after 2 o’clock the
procession formed in front of James Sargent’s “Sign of the Black Horse” Tavern, and,
led by the Invincibles, marched to the east end of the town and then back to Mrs.
Calohan’s. This shows that Sargent’s inn was at the west end of the village.
When they arrived at Mrs. Calohan’s they “partook of a sumptuous dinner,
prepared by her and served up in her best style.” As at all dinners of this
kind in those days toasts were called for, with Captain Benjamin Anderson, who was
given the title of colonel in the old account, presiding at the table, and Hamilton
Brownlee as vice president.
The 21 regular toasts covered—“The Fourth of July, 1776” “The
Continental Congress,” and just about every other patriotic subject they
could think of, not forgetting “The Fair Sex.” At the conclusion of the regular
toasts, five volunteer toasts were offered, one of which was by Colonel
James McDonald, of Ohio County, Virginia. Before the end of a toast was
offered to “Our Fair Hostess—May her pay be equal to that of her dinner.”
Colonel Isaac Hodgens closed the program with a toast to “The Invincible Guards,”
It was about time the meeting closed, for with all those toasts under
their belts, it is little wonder many of the men had to be helped onto
Fifty-four years later an old man who, as a boy of 12 attended the
celebration, was the Claysville correspondent of The Reporter, and in the
issue of February 21, 1887, his memories of that hilarious Fourth of July
were published. Unfortunately this account does not give this correspondent’s
name; but it made an impression, as it would on any 12-year-old boy, which he
carried through the rest of his life, and he gave a vivid description,
which it well worth mention.
The Invincibles, commanded by Captain John Barr, and Lieutenant John
Ritezel, were armed with United States muskets, described by him as “more certain
in recoil than in projection,” which was probably true. The uniforms of the
Guards were white trousers, blue coats, red leggings, and whit shoulder straps
for carrying bayonets and cartridge boxes. Their hats were adorned in front
with large tin plates into which long white plumes, tipped with red, were
inserted. Mrs. Calohan’s “sumptuous dinner’ cost 50 cents per plate. This may
have included the drinks for the toasts, for liquor was almost as cheap as
water in those days. The meal was served in the open on a long white table over
which was a green “booth.” This was on the site of M.L. Stillwagon’s
residence and store of 1887.
Arms were stacked at noon and after the dinner the Invincibles stood
to arms while “bottles, decanters, and glasses were placed on the table before
the ‘old boys.’ Dan Rider read the Declaration of Independence, and after each
toast cheers were given, volleys were fired and a sip taken by the “old boys.”
Thus were the lungs sustained, the power burnt, and bottles emptied, the
latter to be promptly replenished.”
After toasts there was another parade, the Invincibles probably being
the only ones able to march; “and as the day drew to a close the flags were
furled, the ‘old boys’ assisted into their saddles, the crowd dispersed, the
sun sank behind Porter’s hill and your scribe wended his way home, very
tired, but chuck full of patriotism,”
It is interesting to note that Captain Benjamin Anderson commanded a
company of 68 men from Hopewell, Chartiers and Canton townships, and other
sections, that was attached, to the First Pennsylvania Infantry in the War of
1812. One of the men in this company was Joseph Ritner, who was to become
Governor of Pennsylvania 24 years later.
This regiment was mustered in at Pittsburgh with Colonel Joel Ferree, of
that city, as commander, and served under General William Henry Harrison against
the British in the Northwest. It marched to Upper Sandusky, Ohio, where it
built Fort Ferree, and in January 1813, joined General Harrison at Portage River.
The regiment was with Harrison when he built Fort Meigs at the Rapids of the
Maumee for winter quarters.
The term of enlistment of the First Infantry expired on April 2, 1813,
but Captain Anderson and a number of his men re-enlisted for 15 days more. They
were discharged on April 17, and returned home.
In the meantime the other members of the regiment, led by Colonel Ferree,
who was a sick man, started on the long march of 167 miles through the
wilderness to Pittsburgh. When mustered in there were 35 officers and 511
men; but at the muster out there were only 30 officers and 399 men, the remainder
being absent without leave or on the sick list, except the few who had re-enlisted.
Colonel Ferree died at Zanesville, Ohio. He was a member of that family
of pioneer gunsmiths of Allegheny County, makers of some of the best Pennsylvania
Rifles ever turned out. These rifles were so good that most of them were carried
West by trappers and exploring expeditions, and today they are a scarce collector’s
(To Be Continued)
For part 23 of The National Pike Story For part 25 of The National Pike Story