Taverns in the American Colonies
Taverns were not only an integral part of colonial life in America, but were also a necessity. The modes of travel and transportation of the day mandated the location of a tavern every few miles on the main thoroughfares, where tired and hungry travelers could find food and drink and a bed or floor upon which to sleep. Most colonial taverns were the only available public meeting place in early American towns and countryside's.
The first tavern in this area was operated by Samuel Gettys in 1772; Mr. Gettys' son, James, helped Reverend Dobbin found, and lent his name to, the town of Gettysburg.
Men from all walks of life met inside the Gettys Tavern to transact business, discuss politics, gamble and gossip over hearty food and a bottle of wine, a bowl of punch or a tankard of ale. The Tavern served as the first town hall, news center, general store and military station. The local militia mustered there to join ranks with the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.
Colonial tavern keepers were men of consequence. Mr. Gettys received his guests graciously, providing a good bill of fare and a choice selection of wines. Throughout the colonies everyone drank liquor, from babes to ministers, due to their rigorous lifestyle, scanty diets, bitter cold winters without home heating and lack of medicines. Adams County families drank homemade wine, brandy, and ale made from the apples of the many trees they planted.
It could very well be that James Gettys' good friend and fellow community leader, Alexander Dobbin, sat before a crackling fire in a colonial tavern room similar to the Springhouse Tavern, discussing the possibilities of creating a new town and county seat for a new country...in a new United States.
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