`Continuing from last week, William Leedom took over the operation
of the Edgington Tavern sometime before 1812. After just a few years under his proprietorship
the hostelry soon became known as the Leedom Tavern . This old wayside inn had been
built and operated by Adams County pioneer, George Edgington. Leedom is a son-in-law
of Edgington having married his daughter, Tacy Edgington, in 1795. William and Tacy
were the parents of twelve children and have many descendants still living in Adams
and surrounding counties.
In addition to keeping the Zane's Trace tavern,
William Leedom conducted an extensive trading business on the Ohio and Mississippi
Rivers. With his son, Aaron, he transported loads of bacon and flour in keep boats
to Natchez and New Orleans where they were marketed to southern planters. The two
men also dealt in horses and mules, driving large numbers of them overland to New
Back home at the Leedom Tavern; William Leedom became well known
for his hospitality. According to one source, he "fed well and charged moderately."
To support this statement we quote from one of his quests, Dr. F. Cumming, who passed
over Zane's Trace in the summer of 1807. In his journal he noted, "I stopped...at
the house of Squire Leedom, an intelligent and agreeable man, who keeps a tavern,
and is a justice of the peace. I chose bread and butter, eggs and milk for breakfast,
for which I tendered a quarter of a dollar, the customary price, but he would receive
only the half of that sum, saying that even that amount was to much. Such instances
of modest and just honestly rarely occur."
About 1830 William and Tacy's
second oldest son, Elijah, assumed the duties of tavern keeper and continued to operate
the inn for several years. Like most of the other wayside inns and taverns on the
southern end of Zane's Trace, more than likely the Leedom Tavern closed sometime
shortly before the Civil War. The last recorded tavern license for it is dated 1849.
The growing popularity of trains and increased travel ont he river by steamboat spelled
doom to the wayside inns in southern Ohio. And accordingly, the old stagecoach line
on the trace had been discontinued as early as 1842.
However, the Leedom Tavern
did experience a revival of sorts. At the turn of the century the old landmark tavern
was again opened to the public under the banner of The Farmer's Inn. Its host and
hostess were Henry B. and Caroline Gaffin. Caroline was the daughter of Elijah Leedom
and therefore represented the fourth succeeding generation to own and operate the
Leedom Tavern. Henry B. Gaffin was a son of pioneer William Gaffin who is the progenitor
of the large clan of Gaffins in Adams County today.
The long history of the
old tavern ended abruptly in the spring of 1911. At that time the big log structure
caught fire and burned to the ground leaving behind only memories that are now part
of the legends of Old Adams.