The old Cumberland Road, (National Road) also known as U.S. 40, was the first national highway established in America. The road was completed through Wayne County in 1827.
EARLY TAVERNS & TOLL GATES OF WAYNE COUNTY:
…The road penetrated Indiana at the boundary line of Wayne county, in that State. The length of the line through Indiana is one hundred and forty-nine and one-fourth miles, and the sum of $513,099 was expended on it for bridges and masonry. Work was begun at Indianapolis and prosecuted east and west from that point, in obedience to an act of Congress given in the chapter on Appropriations. The road was completed through Wayne county in 1827. It was not macadamized or graveled, and in the year 1850 was absorbed by the Wayne County Turnpike Company, under a charter granted by State authority. The length of this pike is twenty-two miles.
The second section of the act incorporating the Wayne County Turnpike Company reads as follows:
“The capital stock of said company shall be one hundred thousand dollars, divided into shares of fifty dollars each, and shall be applied to the construction of a turnpike road in Wayne county, commencing at the western terminus of the Richmond turnpike, about three miles east of Richmond, and to be continued westward on the line of the National Road to the county line between the counties of Henry and Wayne; and the State of Indiana hereby relinquishes to said Wayne County Turnpike Company all the rights, interests, and claims in and to the line of said National Road in said county of Wayne; the grade, materials, bridges, constructions of all kinds she now has, or may hereafter acquire from the General Government, in and to the said National Road: Provided, That in case the Federal Government should, at any time hereafter, determine to resume the ownership and control of said road, said company shall relinquish the same to the General Government, on receiving from it the full cost of construction as expended by said company.”
The section quoted discloses a point which the court of Somerset county, Pennsylvania, seems to have overlooked when it condemned that portion of the road lying within the borders of that county, took possession of its property, and decreed it free from tolls. The several acts of Congress ceding the road to Pennsylvania and the other States through which it passed, reserved the right of Congress at any subsequent time to resume ownership and control, and in case of the exercise of this reserved right, the question arises, what would become of the decree of the Somerset county court?
Prior to the construction of the National Road in Indiana, Robert Morrisson, the founder of the Morrisson Library, of Richmond, and one of the leading citizens of that place, was mainly instrumental in causing a gravel road to be made from Richmond to Dayton, Ohio, which was known as the “Richmond and Short Line Pike.” The engineers of the National Road adopted the line of Morrisson’s road in Indiana, with the exception of one mile from a point near Clawson’s tavern to the Ohio State line. The Government survey carried the line east from Clawson’s tavern, and north of Sycamore Valley, over two long and steep hills, separated by a deep valley. To avoid these hills on the Ohio side, travel dropped down over a good country road to the Richmond and Short Line Pike at the State line. This country road was afterwards macadamized, but the distance between the State line and Clawson’s tavern has remained a gravel road until the present time, kept up and used as a portion of the National road, instead of the line over the hills north of Sycamore Valley. (Portrait; Robert Morrisson)
Morrisson’s company was merged in the Wayne County Turnpike Company in 1850. This company issued seven hundred and eighty shares of stock of the par value of fifty dollars each, and operated its road until the year 1890, when Jackson township, by virtue of a popular vote, purchased that portion of it lying within her boundaries for the sum of $4,500, and made it free of tolls. In 1893, Wayne township bought the road within her boundaries for $11,000, and made it free. The preliminary steps are now being taken by the citizens of Center township to take a vote on a proposition to purchase the road within her borders. If this measure carries the road will be free throughout its entire length in Wayne county.
The Presidents of the Wayne County Turnpike Company have been Robert Morrisson, Jacob Brooks, Edmund Laurence, William Parry, and Joseph C. Ratliff, the last named having served continuously from 1871 to the present time, a pleasant gentleman of fine executive abilities. This company has always paid dividends of seven per-cent, on its capital stock of $39,000. and for the last ten years a majority of its stockholders have been women. The rate of toll was two cents a mile for horse and buggy and one-half cent per mile for each additional horse, one cent for a horse and rider per mile, and one-half cent for a led horse. The toll houses were small frame structures and the gates simply heavy poles to raise and let down after the manner of the beam that lowered and lifted up “the old oaken bucket that hung in the well.”
Going westwardly from the Ohio State line, in Indiana, the first tavern was that of James Neal, at Sycamore Valley. Of Neal but little can be gleaned beyond the fact that he kept tavern at this point for several years. The next tavern was Clawson’s, a brick building, erected about the year 1818 by Robert Hill. It stood a little distance north of the road, and near the western end of the line before mentioned, as having been located but not used, and was subsequently torn down and rebuilt on the traveled line. It is said that Robert Hill’s daughters hauled the brick for their father’s house in an ox cart. Clawson was a tall, muscular man, and beyond these facts concerning him, he is lost to the memory of the oldest inhabitant of Indiana. West of Clawson’s the first toll gate in Indiana was encountered. It stood near Glen Miller Park and almost within the suburbs of Richmond. This gate was moved several times, but never over a mile from Richmond.
The city of Richmond is the first large town on the line of the road within the borders of the State of Indiana, and the road forms its Main street. It is four miles from the Ohio line, and the county seat of Wayne county. Its present population is 25.000. The first tavern of the road in Richmond was kept by Charles W. Starr. It was a regular old pike tavern, with extensive stabling and drove yards attached, occupying one-fourth of a square on the northeast corner of Eighth, formerly Fifth street. The building was of brick, known in later years as the Tremont Hotel. It is still standing, but not used as a hotel or tavern. Charles W. Starr was a man of medium size and of Quaker faith. He wore the Quaker garb, had Quaker habits, and was esteemed a good citizen. Some of his descendants are still living at Richmond, and three of his sons are prominent and active business men of that place.
A short distance below Starr’s, and between Sixth and Seventh streets, stood Sloan’s brick stage house, and its proprietor, Daniel D. Sloan, was at one time postmaster of Richmond. This tavern was headquarters for two stage lines, one running to Indianapolis and the other to Cincinnati. The Cincinnati line had opposition, and by cutting rates the fare was reduced by the competition and during its continuance, from five dollars to fifty cents for the round trip, distance seventy miles direct. A portion of Sloan’s old tavern still remains, and adjoins Roling’s hardware store. Sloan was heavy set, fleshy, and well poised for a tavern keeper.
On the south side of the road, between Seventh and Eighth streets, William Nixon kept a tavern on the site of the present Huntington House. He was a spare, sinewy man, of the Quaker faith. He kept the tavern at the point named from 1840 to about 1843.
BED BUGS? !!
A noted tavern was Gilbert’s, on the northeast corner of Sixth and Main streets. Joseph W. Gilbert kept this house for many years. It was a two-story frame building, pebble coated. Gilbert was tall and slim, polite and affable, and had many friends. He suffered the misfortune of going blind, and died at Richmond in 1890, in the ninety-second year of his age. When barely able to distinguish large objects he walked much up and down the streets, asking persons he met to tell him the time of day, always pulling out his watch and holding it up for inspection. At one time when Gilbert was moving a part of his tavern building. Charles Newman, on passing along, inquired of the old landlord, whose house was noted for its cleanliness, how many bed bugs he found. Gilbert replied with indignation, “Not a single one.” “I believe you, Joseph,” said Newman, “for they are married and have large families.” Most of the early taverns of Richmond were in the western part of the town.
It is related in the latest history of Indiana, that Jeremiah Cox, one of the earliest settlers in Richmond, regarded with disfavor the scheme of building up the town; and is said to have remarked, that he would rather see a buck’s tail than a tavern sign, and his sincerity was made evident by the fact, that he did not make his addition to the town plat until two years after the date of Smith’s survey, or two years after Philip Harter had a tavern sign swinging near a log building on lot 6, South Fifth (Pearl) street.
Another early tavern of Richmond was kept at the northwest corner of Main and Fifth (Pearl), sign of the green tree, by Jonathan Bayles. and another, of later date, on Fourth (Front) street, near the southwest corner of Main, by Ephraim Lacey. Harter soon afterward kept a tavern at the corner of North Fifth (Pearl) and Main, where the Citizen’s bank afterward stood, then called Harter’s corner. Another tavern was kept on Gilbert’s corner, northwest corner of Main and Sixth (Marion), first, it is believed, by Abraham Jeffries, and continued afterward by several other persons at different times. Richard Cheesman, an early settler, lived on South Fourth (Front) street, kept a tavern several years, and subsequently removed to Center township, where he died. William, a nephew, remained in Richmond, and married a Miss Moffitt. He died some years ago, but his widow is still living.
TAVERN OWNER SCALPED BY HIS CUSTOMERS! John Baldwin, an original Carolinian, kept a tavern and store at the Citizen’s bank corner. He went west, and became a trader with the Indians. Their savage nature having at one time been excited by liquor which he had sold them, they scalped, or partially scalped him, but he survived the operation and returned to Wayne county, where he died, six miles north of Richmond, in 1869. After Baldwin, William H. Vaughan kept this tavern for several years, and until it ceased to entertain the public. Vaughan had previously kept the Lacey tavern on Fourth (Front) street. Patrick Justice, at an early period, kept a tavern on North Fourth (Front) street, near Main. He afterward kept a public house which he built in 1827. near the extreme limits of the town, now the southeast corner of Main and Fifth streets.
Benjamin Paige, a New Englander, father of Ralph Paige, once a merchant on Main street, kept a tavern previous to 1830, at the corner originally owned by John C. Kibbey, an early inn-keeper, and known as Meek’s corner, northeast of Main and Sixth (Marion). Abraham Jeffries had a tavern on Gilbert’s corner, which he kept a number of years, and was succeeded by Joseph Andrews, his brother-in-law, who died soon after taking charge. The last westward tavern in Richmond was kept by Christian Buhl, who came from Germany, and his house was a three story stone structure where Minck’s brewery now is.
At the west end of Richmond the road crosses Whitewater river over a handsome and expensive bridge. This bridge has seven arches, and is a combination truss and arch design, capable of sustaining an immense weight. On the west side timbers and wool sacks were sunk into a quicksand upon which to rest the foundations of the abutment.
Toll-gate No. 7 was erected at the fifth mile post west of Richmond and afterwards moved to a point near Earlham college. This gate was kept by William Fagan for twenty-three years, and afterwards by Mr. Gardener for nearly ten years. Mr. Gardener is a New York man and was one of the best gate-keepers on the road. His wife is a cousin of the late Hon. William B. Windom, who was Secretary of the Treasury in President Harrison’s administration.
There was a tavern between gate No. 7 and gate No. 8, which was near the Center township line and East Clear creek. West of this point there is a curve in the road caused by the refusal of Thomas Croft to remove his house, which was on the surveyed line. He was offered $500 to remove his house and declined to take it. The road was then of necessity made around his house, and so near it as to loosen its foundations, and it toppled and fell down, causing him to lose his house, and the sum offered him as damages besides.
At the seventh mile stone, a little beyond West Clear Creek bridge, stood the shop of Jeremy Mansur, who manufactured the first axes made in the county of Wayne. When Martin Van Buren made his trip through Indiana, many persons denounced him as an enemy of the road, and some one in Richmond, to inflict chastisement upon the distinguished statesman for his supposed unfriendliness, sawed a double-tree of the coach in which he was traveling nearly through, and it broke near Mansur’s ax-shop, causing Mr. Van Buren to walk to the top of a hill through thick mud. The author of this mishap to Mr. Van Buren subsequently boasted that he had put a mud polish on Gentleman Martin’s boots to give him a realizing sense of the importance of good roads.
Near the ninth mile stone from Richmond were two celebrated taverns, Eliason’s and Estepp’s. Both are brick houses and well kept. Joshua Kliason was a man of medium size, jovial disposition, remarkably industrious, and a zealous member of the Christian church. His tavern was on the north side of the road, and, in connection with it, he maintained two one-story emigrant houses to accommodate families moving west. The emigrants carried and cooked their own provisions, and paid Eliason a certain sum for the use of his buildings. Drove yards were also a profitable feature of Eliason’s tavern. He sold grain to the drovers, and after the cattle were turned out, put his own hogs in the vacated field to eat up the remnants and refuse.
John Estepp’s tavern was on the south side of the road, nearly opposite Eliason’s, He had one emigrant house, and did an extensive business. He was a man of the lean order, but always on the alert to turn an honest penny. A short distance beyond Estepp’s, Centerville comes in view, near where Daniel L. Lashley kept the principal tavern. He was a large man, and had a large patronage.
Governor Oliver P. Morton
Centerville boasts of having been a nursery of great men. Here Oliver P. Morton, when a young man, worked as a hatter, and Gen. A. E. Burnside pursued the humble trade of a tailor. Gen. Lew Wallace and Gen. Noble went to school in Centerville. and possibly the germs of Ben Hur had their origin in this rural village. Hon. George W. Julian, of free soil notoriety, was at one time a resident of Centerville, and Judge Nimrod Johnson, of the State Supreme Court, and John S. Newman, ex-president of the Indiana Central Railroad Company, were among the noted personages who lived there. Centerville was lor many years the county seat of Wayne county, and the removal of the offices and archives to Richmond produced a feeling of jealousy between the inhabitants of the places which lingers in a measure to this day, although Richmond has far outstripped her ancient rival in growth and improvements.
West of Centerville the road crosses Nolan’s Fork, a small Indiana stream, and a short distance beyond, and near the Poor Farm, a toll-gate was established, and there was also a tavern at this point. One mile west of the Poor Farm, Crum Fork is crossed by means of a bridge, and between this stream and Germantown there was another toll-gate and also a tavern. There is a bridge over the stream between Germantown and Cambridge city. West of Cambridge City, and near Dublin, there was a toll-gate, and a short distance west of Dublin, the road passes out of Wayne county.
The road forms the main street of Dublin and is called Cumberland street, by reason of this fact. The first tavern established in Dublin was by Samuel Schoolfield, an old Virginian, pleasantly remembered on account of his staunch patriotism. He displayed on his sign-board the motto! “Our country, right or wrong.”
The railroad absorbed all passenger and freight traffic in the year 1852, after which date and to the close of the civil war, outside of home travel, the main vehicles on the Indiana division were “Prairie Schooners,” or semi-circular bedded, white-covered emigrant wagons, used by parties moving from Virginia and the Carolinas to Illinois. Source; The Old Pike; A History of The National Road; Thomas B. Searight; 1894.