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Fairfield County, Ohio
History & Genealogy



Pioneer Period and Pioneer People of Fairfield Co., Ohio.
by C. M. L. Wiseman
Publ. F. J. Heer Printing Co., Columbus, O.  1901

Transcribed by Sharon Wick

Page 138

     Many of the first taverns of Lancaster and Fairfield County had odd, and to the present generation, singular names. 
     Historical characters and animals were drawn upon without stint, and by long association, many of those dear old names revive in the aged and middle aged sweet memories of the past and associates and friends long since gathered to their fathers.
     One of the most striking sings of the early period was that of Samuel Graybill, two miles out of Lancaster, on Columbus pike, where the old home still stands.  This tavern was called the Green Tree.  And there was painted on the sign a large tree, and a pack of hounds, and Graybill on horseback, with a fox on a leaning tree, ready to spring.  Fox hunting was the joy of Graybill's life.
     Another country sign was the Blue Ball, at the Rock Mill, where George Lantz now lives.  This was kept by King, famous for his good fare.  One of the early signs was that of Jacob Beck, on Columbus street, where Wm. Getz now lives.  On his sign was a large Buck, and with the name of Jacob Beck.
The F. A. Shaffer tavern was in early days called the Washington, with a picture of the general on the sign.  Another Washington tavern was in Thornville, kept for some time by Dr. Mayne, before he became a doctor, and settled in Basil.  We refer to the father of the late
Dr. Wash. Mayne.

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     Jacob Walters kept tavern some years where the Betz house now stands.  He called his house the William Tell, after the famous hero of a Swiss legend.  There was a picture of the famous youth with drawn cross-bow and arrow.  Col. Noble's tavern was called the Union as early as 1819.  It was a log house, but weatherboarded.  It burned down in 1832 or '33, and a new brick building of two stories was erected in its place.  This was called the Phoenix, after the fabled bird of heathen mythology; presumably because it had risen from the ashes of the old Union.  This tavern was owned by a company - and in about five years it was sold to Darius Tallmadge, and by him greatly improved, and the name changed to "Tallmadge House."  Another famous hostelry was where the Mithoff now stands.  The sign was ornamented with the picture of a larger swan.  Col. Sager was one of the famous landlords of this inn.  There was an old-time tavern on the north side of Main street, near the canal, called the "Golden Sun," with a picture of that luminary in a blaze of glory.
     Another old tavern sign will be remembered by a few of our readers.  The "Black Horse," kept by Allen House, on East Main Street.  The building stood near where the fine Binninger residence now stands.  No one could go down Main street east and fail to see the black horse.  House is said to have entertained Gen. Santa Anna on his way to Washington, incognito, after his battle of San Jacinto.
     One of the famous old-time taverns was kept by the Nyes, in Tarlton, and another by Col. Sager, of Oakland.  Col. Sager's wife was a Smith, cousin of Robert, of Pleasant township.  The Nyes preserved

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for forty years two autograph letters from Henry Clay, who always took his meals at their house.
     The good old names are now out of fashion, and only exist in memory, and the modern styles predominate.  Such as Hotel Martin, The Kirn, The Mithoff.
     The modern hotels excel the old in comfort and convenience, but you cannot convince old-timers that the good fare and good cheer of the old taverns were not the best.
     In the old bar room at Fred Shaffer's more than a dozen travelers have been seated and made comfortable, and the evening spent in enjoyable conversation.  At least six lawyers have been known to lodge in one room at old-time taverns, and while a game of cards amused the players, the others with a single candle prepared their cases for the next day.  



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