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The Washington Observer, Thursday March 24, 1955

National Pike--Road of History, Romance, by Earle R. Forrest

Hopkins Tavern.

From the location given by Searight on the south side of the angle of the pike after crossing the bridge just where it turns to the left to go up the hill," it is plain that this was originally the Adamsor the later Armstrong tavern. Samuel Adams kept a tavern at this lication as early as 1820, succeeded by John Huston. The original house, described by Searight as a wooden structure, was torn down at an early date, and the present building erected on the spot, was a popular and prosperous hostelry during the pike era and for many years aftrerwards.
Joshua Armstrong was the first proprietor after this building was erected before 1840, and he was succeeded by Morris Purcell.  Searight says that Major William Paul succeeded Purcell about 1842, and his
barman was James Watkins, an old stage driver from Washington.  Paul's son-in-law, Thomas H. Hopkins, the next proprietor, gave it the name of Hopkins Tavern, by which it is still known, although it has not been a
hotel for more that half a century. During all the years of pike travel, and long after Hopkin's death, it was very popular, always catering to the tastes of stage travelers and Pike Boys. A large wagon yard was on
the east side, and Searight says that Dr. Estep Adams told him that when he was a boy he counted 50 Contestoga wagons in the yard one night during Purcell'a regime.

Mrs. Rebecca Hopkins, still living gave me an interesting description of this historic tavern, which was popular with the townspeople as well as travelers. After Hopkins died his wife, Betsy ran the place for many
years, even after travel on the pike closed.  Mrs. Hopkins was the aunt of Mrs. Rebecca Hopkins, so this description from a woman who knew the old stand during its last years as a hotel from family tradition, is

She told me that the brick building at the right of the present saloon is the original tavern of Joshua Armstrong, built before 1840, and the frame section, still standing, was added by Mrs. Hopkins. The old
barroom of pike days was in the present cleaners' establishment.  What is now a barber shop was the ladie's parlor, and the men's parlor was in the far right end as you face the building. The old wagon lot where many
Conestogas were parked every night, is still vacant ground at the east end.

Back in those years lumbering was a big industry in the mountains at the head of the Monongahela River in West Virginia, and during the season when the river was clear of ice, many big rafts of logs came down
on their way to the saw mills on the lower Monongahela. that was before the days of steam tow boats. This log traffic can be compared to the coal barges of later years, towed by steamers.

Mrs. Hopkins said that Hopkin's Tavern was a popular stopping place for lumber jacks who brought the rafts down from West Virginia. Every evening during warm weather a group of loggers was on the porch,
swapping yarns, and many were the tall tales they told. Gathered around were the people of the town, including every small boy in West Brownsville, listening to those tales of adventure in the mountian lumber camps and on the river. It is easy to picture those boys of long ago listening with rapt attention, and I wondered if those stories heard on the porch of Hopkin's Tavern, were responsible for many of the boys of that time taking up the adventurous life of a lumberjack. Mrs. Hopkins was still operating the tavern when Searight made his tour of
the pike in 1892 and 1893.

Watkins Tavern. In seeking information on the old taversn I was directed to Mrs. Ophelia Lynch, who told me that Solomon Watkins kept a tavern on the site of the present freight station of the Pittsburgh, Virginia and Charleston Railroad. Searight says that Solomon Watkins kept the Hopkins, but he evidently made a mistake, for he related that the old Adams or Hopkins Tavern, but it is evident that he confused the two stands, for the Watkins Tavern was across the pike from Hopkins. Mrs. Lynch remembered that Solomon at that place, but they may have kept the Watkins Tavern before Solomon took charge. Mrs. Lynch recalls that a town pump was in front of this inn, but the well was filled when the present freight station was erecetd.

Owens' Tavern.

The oldest building in West Brownsville is the stone house on the south side of the pike, on the old SamThompson Distillery property, at the foot of the river hill. Searight says that Vincent Owens kept a
tavern here when the road was opened and for a number of years during the prosperous days of the pike. He was a Revolutionary soldier who settled there early in the 19th century or possibly in 1790s. I cannot
say that he built this house, but he probably did.

One night while Owens was proprietor his father was murdered in this tavern. The motive for the crime is a mystery to this day.  Searight says that two persons who lodged there that night were suspected; but
they made their escape before daybreak and were never apprehended. The killing caused great excitement, for murders were rather rare, even in those rough days.

Owens was succeeded by Samuel Acklin, and after him John Krepps, of the Krepps' Ferry family, took charge. The next proprietor was Morris Purcell, who went from there to the Adams, later the Hopkins Tavern. The
old stone house was closed as a tavern long before the decline of travel on the pike.

On each side of this ancient house are the big brick buildings of the Sam Thompson Disillery, which was in operation for many years prior to national prohibition. Since 1927 the old stone tavern building has been
the office of the Ward Supply Company.

When I went to the office for information I was referred to Willard Griffin, a brother of Shan Griffin, of Washington. The history of the old building had been told to Mr.   Griffin years ago by James Risbeck,
an old Pike Boy, and he verified the statement that this was the Owens Tavern. He related the story of the murder of Vincent Owens' father. Risbeck had told him that Krepps' Ferry of early days crossed the
Monongahela River at this point, with a landing just in the rear of the tavern. As this ferry was in operation as early as 1794 it is reasonable to believe that the stone house may have been erected about that time,
and was probably used as the property was owned by the Krepps family. This ferry continued in operation as late as 1845.

Samuel J. Thompson, of Washington, a grandson of Sam Thompson, founder of this distillery, told me the story of how his grandfather became interested in the business. The first distillery at this site wa built
before 1844, for it was in that years that Sam Thompson acquired the property from a man who owned him a debt.  Thompson was not particullary in the whiskey business, but that seemed to be the only way in which he
could get his money.

He told a friend that he had a distillery on his hands, and did not know what to do with it. There were many distilleries along the river in those days, and competition was so keen that there was not much money in
the business for any of them. The friend old Thompson to make better whiskey than the others. He did make better whiskey, beginning in that year of 1844, and West Brownsville became known as the "Home of Sam
Thompson's Old Monongahela Rye."

During the days of the distillery the old Owens Tavern building was the office of the government gauger. In what is now the basement, but originally the first floor, on the river front, barrels were filled with whiskey.
(continued in part 5b)

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April 5, 1750 The Pennsylvania Gazette
ITEM #11606
April 5, 1750
The Pennsylvania Gazette

NOTICE is hereby given to all persons, who may incline to be
purchasers of the eighth part of Durham iron works, and land
thereto belonging, in Bucks county, lately seized and taken in
execution, and advertised to be sold by the sheriff of the
said county, on the 18th inst. as the property of Robert
Ellis, late of this city merchant, that I the subscriber, John
<< HOPKINS>> , of Philadelphia, merchant, do claim title to one
moiety or half part of the said eighth part of the works and
land aforesaid, and do intend to pursue my claim thereto, by
bringing an ejectment for the said moiety, before June term
next. JOHN << HOPKINS>> .
>ITEM #11668
April 26, 1750
The Pennsylvania Gazette

     TO be sold by the subscriber, his plantation, at Richmond,
     commonly called Point no Point. Also to be sold by publick
>     vendue, at the plantation aforesaid on Saturday, the 12th of
     May next, several good horses, breeding mares and colts. Six
     months credit will be given, giving good security, if
     required, by ROBERT HOPKINS N.B. The vendue to begin at 2 a
    clock in the afternoon.

March 22, 1748 The Pennsylvania Gazette
ITEM #9496
March 22, 1748
>The Pennsylvania Gazette

Philadelphia, March 22. 1747-8. Run away on the 22d of January
last from Andrew McClement, of Kent county on Delaware, an
Irish servant man, named Patrick << HOPKINS>> , of about 30 years of
age, a low well set fellow, black bushy hair, full faced,
pitted with the small pox, had a hole under the left Jaw,
occasion by the Kingevil, a large flat foot, and big
heels. ... Whoever brings the above servant to his
master, or secures him, so as he may have him again, shall
have Forty shillings reward, and reasonable charges, paid by
ndrew McClement. N.B. It is supposed he has an old Indenture,
whereby he was bound to his former masters. Andrew Bandy, and
>Richard Bandy, which likely he may produce, in order to
ake people believe he is a freeman.

>SIX POUNDS Reward. Philadelphia, August 20. 1747. Run away, on
unday night last, from the subscribers, in Wilmington, the
>two following Irish servant men, viz. from Robert Lewis, a
thick set man, named John Powell, about 20 years of age, round
visage, much freckled, down look, red eye brows, and red hair,
cut short, and perhaps may wear a wig over his hair: ...; he may be
certainly proved by the drawing of his breath in a very hard and
>uncommon manner from other people, and is a very good scholar,
and will undoubtedly write himself and his fellow runaway a pass; he
us hard of hearing, will pass for a miller or schoolmaster,... The other

from Edward << HOPKINSs>> , ship carpenter...
a short small man, named John Pendegrass, fair complexion,
round visage, and freckled: ...Tis supposed he will pass for a sailor or
carpenter, and says he has been a privateering. Whoever takes
up and secures said servants, or either of them, so as their
master may have them again, shall have Three Pounds reward for
each, and reasonable charges, paid by Robert Lewis, and Edward
>May 7, 1747 The Pennsylvania Gazette
ITEM #8656
May 7, 1747
The Pennsylvania Gazette

Philadelphia, May 7. 1747. For BARBADOS, The Brigantine Jane &
Sarah, Patrick Vaunce, Commander; Mounts 16 Guns, and Men
answerable. For Freight or Passage agree with said Master on
board, lying at HOPKINS Wharff, or John << HOPKINS>> , Merchant,
in Walnut street. N.B. She will sail in Twenty Days at farthest.
arch 27, 1746 The Pennsylvania Gazette
ITEM #7726
>March 27, 1746
The Pennsylvania Gazette

December 6, 1745 The Pennsylvania Gazette
ITEM #7544
December 6, 1745
The Pennsylvania Gazette

ALL Persons indebted to the Estate of Thomas Sharp, Merchant,
deceased, are desired immediately to pay off their respective
Debts to Walter Goodman, of this City Merchant, the Attorney
of John Thomas, Executor of said Sharp: And those who have any
Demands, are desired to bring in their Accounts, that they may
e adjusted by JOHN THOMAS, Executor. N.B. The Administrators
John << HOPKINS>> , and John Inglis, have delivered the Books and
Papers of said Thomas Sharp, to the Executor.
January 1, 1745 The Pennsylvania Gazette
ITEM #6822
January 1, 1745
The Pennsylvania Gazette

Run away from the Subscriber, on the 17th of October last, a
Servant Man, named John Wood, alias Joseph Wood, a tall, thin,
raw bones Fellow, with strait brown Hair, and very near
sighted. He us a Wheel wright and Mill wright, and can do
Carpenters and Joyners Work, and understands Turnery...
He is a very talkative Fellow,
and appears very ignorant to those not acquainted with him. He
has also got a forged Discharge with him, which I expect he
will produce if he should be examined by any Persons, who are
desired not to notice it....any Person that secures said Servant, and
the Subscriber Notice, so that he may have him again, shall
have Five Pounds Reward. W. Worthington, Junior. N.B. Whoever
takes up the Servant, may give me Notice, by sending a Line,
to the Care of Mr. Thomas Hughes, at Nottingham, in
Pennsylvania, or to Mr. William << Hopkins>> , on Susquahanna, in
anuary 13, 1743 The Pennsylvania Gazette
ITEM #5615
January 13, 1743
The Pennsylvania Gazette

PHILADELPHIA. On Wednesday the 5th Instant, about Two in the
Morning, a Fire broke out in Water Street, at the Blockmaker
Shop, near the Rose and Crown; and the Chief Buildings
thereabouts being Wood, it presently got to such a Head, that
tho'no Industry was wanting, it could not be mastered til 6
or 7 Dwelling Houses, besides Stores &c. were reduced to
Ashes. William Clymer, Blockmaker, John Ryan Merchant, Thomas
Say, Sadler, Thomas Ingram, Tavernkeeper, Robert << Hopkins>> ,
Baker, & others, were burnt out, and the Fire was so sudden,
that some of them savbut very little, and others none of
their Goods, (except Mr. Say who savalmost every thing, by
the Diligence of the Fire Company, of which he was a Member.)
The Engines and Leather Buckets were of vast Service; a strong
Party Wall, with a Battlement above the Roof, contributed very
much to the saving of Mr. Tillnew House, and consequently
the rest of the Row towards Market Street, the Wind, tho'
there was not much, being that Way ---
December 10, 1741 The Pennsylvania Gazette
ITEM #4972
December 10, 1741
The Pennsylvania Gazette

RUN away on the 1st Instant, from William << Hopkins>> , near the
two Branches of Elk River, Cecil County, Maryland, an indented
Servant Man, named Nathanael Willis, about 20 Years of Age, of
middle Stature, Pockfretten, and has several Scars on one side
of his Face; he is an Irishman, has somewhat of the Brogue on
his Tongue, and in his Speech cuts his Words short; he also
Snuffs much, and about his Nose is commonly daubwith it:...
Whoever takes up the said Servant, and brings him to his said
Master, or secures him, so that he may have him again, shall have
Forty Shillings Reward, and reasonable Charges, paid by William
<< Hopkins>> .
March 6, 1740 The Pennsylvania Gazette
ITEM #3899
March 6, 1740
The Pennsylvania Gazette

ALL Persons indebted to the Estate of Peter << Hopkins>> , Mariner,
deceased, are desired to make speedy Payments to his Widow
Mary << Hopkins>> , now lodging at George Parker, in Front street;
and those who have any Demands on the said Estate, are desired
to bring them in, that they may be adjusted: She designing for
New England in a few Days.
August 14, 1735 The Pennsylvania Gazette
ITEM #2011
August 14, 1735
The Pennsylvania Gazette

STOLEN from James Claypoole, a large roan Horse with a trimmed
Mane, short switch Tail, branded I C on the near Buttock, and
shod all round: Supposed to be taken by a Person that had a
Pass granted him in this City by the Name of John << Hopkins>> , a
lusty Irish Man, and was seen the same Day going up Wisahickan
Road, and is gone towards Potomock. Whoever secures the said
Man and Horse, shall have Three Pounds Reward, or Forty
Shillings for the Horse only, and reasonable Charges paid by
James Claypoole.
November 1, 1733 The Pennsylvania Gazette
ITEM #1436
November 1, 1733
The Pennsylvania Gazette

RUN away from on board the Bristol Hope, Arthur Tough, Master,
Servant Man belonging to George Fleming, named John << Hopkins>> ,
>he is pockfretten, and hath an Impediment in his Speech, short
white Hair, short thick Neck, and is a chunky fellow, by Trade
a Cook. He had on when he went away, a half wore frize Coat, a
sort of silk Wastcoat much torn, lightish blew [blue]
Breeches, blew worsted Stockings and new round toShoes.
Whoever secures the said Servant, and delivers him t the
Workhouse keeper shall have Forty Shillings, Reward, and
reasonable Charges paid, by Tho. Campbel, in Sec. Street.
September 14, 1733 The Pennsylvania Gazette
ITEM #1399
September 14, 1733
The Pennsylvania Gazette

THIS is to give Notice, That on the 26th of August last, went
away from Nathaniel Poole, Shipwright in Philadelphia, a
certain Gentleman named David << Hopkins>> , of a Pale Complexion,
>supposed to be troubled in Mind, his Apparel was when he went
away, a whitish Broad cloth Coat, white Waste Coat and
Breeches, Blue and White striped Cap, and a large Pair of
Silver Buckles in his Shoes. Whoever can give any Intelligence
of the said Person to Reece Jones at the White Horse in Market
Street, or to Robert Davis at the Queens Head in Water Street,
shall have Twenty Shillings Reward and reasonable Charges,
paid by Reece Jones or Robert Davis.

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