Springfield, Ohio

History and Genealogy



Werden's Tavern


From The History of Clark County, Ohio
Chicago: W.H. Beers & Co., 1881 - Page 456


By Oscar T. Martin

"I will take mine ease in mine inn," consolingly said the traveler, as he approached Springfield, weary with the day's jolting over the primitive roads before McAdam had suggested a way of making the rough ways smooth. He knew that ease and comfort awaited him at "Billy Werden's" tavern. It was a famous hostelry. William Werden located in Springfield in 1819. He came from Delaware to Ohio. The first tavern he opened was at McElroy's old stand, on the northeast corner of Main and Market streets, but soon after, he rented the Ross tavern, on the opposite corner, which he fitted up as a first-class public house. It was in this place that Mr. Werden built up a State reputation as a landlord, which made him famous among travelers everywhere. He did much to quell the rowdyism and bar-room brawling which had become such a nuisance at other resorts. As this tavern was the stopping-place for a line of stages running from Cincinnati to Columbus, the sign was that of a stage-coach and horses under full speed, suspended on a tall post at the outer edge of the sidewalk. The room used for his office and bar was not more than twenty feet square, and his whole house, with all its rooms, was not larger than one now required for a large family. The genial host was the first to meet the tired stranger with an outstretched hand and a generous welcome. To conduct him into the house, have a servant remove his muddy leggings and boots; provide him with clean slippers and a warm fire, were the kindly offices which won the heart of the traveler, while the polite attention of the hostess, a bountiful meal, skillfully prepared under her own direction, a clean bed and a good night's rest, sent him on his way refreshed and satisfied in the morning. Mr. Werden bought the property on the northwest corner of Main and Spring streets in 1820, but he did not occupy it until 1829, and then built his large hotel, known as the Werden House. He continued in business here until he had gained a competency, when he retired from active business. During the last term of Jackson's administration, his zealous support of "Old Hickory" gained him the office of Postmaster, which he held for four years.


The First Census

The first enumeration taken here under the laws of the United States was in 1820. It showed that Springfield contained 510 inhabitants, of whom 285 were males and 225 were females. There were eight general stores, a flouring-mill, woolen and carding mill, a cotton mill, several schools, a printing office and a post office, at which the mails were received in elegant four-horse coaches; an adequate supply of lawyers and physicians was also to be found. The court house then in process of erection was the only public building worthy of notice.

John Bacon and Charles Anthony, Esq., two of the prominent citizens of Springfield, who were always thoroughly identified with the business interests of the city and its later growth, with Ira Paige, a prominent merchant, whose name was connected with its mercantile progress, were married about the same time, in the early spring of 1820. They were young men of vigor, ability and industry, and jointly entered into a career of prominence.

The first-named of these young men, John Bacon, came to Springfield in 1818. For many years, he was successfully engaged in the manufacture and sale of harness and saddles, investing his surplus means in real estate and discounting notes, which paid him a good return. Mr. Bacon accumulated considerable means, which, with the increased value of his real estate, made him quite wealthy. Retiring from his regular trade, he became a prominent Railroad and Bank Director. At one time, he held the office of Member of the State Board of Control, connected with the State Bank system that preceded the establishment of the National Banks. He was for several years a Director in the Little Miami Railroad Company, and served in 1860 as a member of the State Board of Equalization. At the time of his death, which occurred in 1870, he was the President of the Mad River National Bank.

(A sketch of Gen. Anthony appears in the history of the Clark County bar, where it properly belongs.)

Bible Societies

The interest taken in the advancement of the morals of the community is shown in the organization of these valuable auxiliaries to church work, such as Bible and missionary societies. The temporary organization of the Clark County Bible Society was effected at the Methodist Church, on the 6th day of August, 1822, by the election of Rev. Archibald Steele as Chairman, Rev. Saul Henkle Secretary, and Isaac T. Zeller as Assistant Secretary. The Board of Managers for the town was composed of the following citizens: Pearson Spinning, Maddox Fisher, John Ambler, John Bacon and Robert Rennick. Board of Managers for the county: Rev. Joseph Morris, Griffith Foos, Moses Henkle, Robert Humphrey, John Humphrey, Thomas Patten, Joel Van Meter, John Layton, Rev. Malyne Baker, John Forgy, Joseph Keifer, Thomas Fisher, Jeremiah Sims, Christian Frantz, Jacob Ebersole, John R. Demon, Andrew Hodge and Thomas Curl. The regular organization was effected on Monday, September 8, 1822. George M. Jewett was chosen Chairman pro tem., with Rev. Saul Henkle as Secretary. The constitution adopted shows the following names among the first signers: Rev. John S. Galloway, Rev. M. M. Henkle, Rev. Saul Henkle, Archibald McConkey, W. M. Spencer and James S. Christie. an election for officers resulted as follows: President, Rev. Archibald Steele; George W. Jewett and Morris Henkle, Sr., Vice Presidents; Pearson Spinning, Treasurer; Rev. Saul Henkle, Corresponding Secretary; and Isaac T. Zeller, Recording Secretary. The following gentlemen were elected Directors: John Ambler, Joel Van Meter, Jeremiah Sims, Robert Humphrey, Griffith Foos, Archibald McConkey, Thomas Patten, Joseph Kefer, Maddox Fisher, Daniel McKinnon, Daniel Moore and Andrew Hodge. Under an organization like this, composed of citizens of means and high standing, the society prospered, and was an instrument of great good. This society was recognized as an auxiliary by the parent society in November, 1842. On September 5, 1872, an entertaining meeting of this society was held, in commemoration of its fiftieth anniversary. On this occasion it was stated, in a paper read by Rev. S. Cochran, that $6,796 had been presented as a donation to the parent society, in New York, and $6,572 worth of Bibles and Testaments had been received from that society in fifty years.