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The Flagon and Trencher:
Descendants of Colonial Tavern Keepers
Following is a brief list of print books and web sites of interest.
Sharon V. Salinger, in her book Taverns and Drinking in Early America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002; newly released in paperback) argues that the cultural and political implications of the public house were fundamental to our development as a nation. Her book is a social history that shows that in the colonial period, the frequent intermingling of social classes within the tavern setting (most often rural taverns) was coupled with an inherent fear of this trend by the colonial elites who formulated legislation and handed out tavern licenses. Read a review of this book on the NEHGS web site - but come back here!.
In 1998, The Connecticut Historical Society (http://www.chs.org) began a comprehensive effort to document and conserve its collection of sixty-five tavern and inn signs, the largest collection of its kind in the nation. Read more about their publication, Lions & Eagles & Bulls.
In the year 1704 a Boston widow named Sarah Kemble Knight journeyed by land on horseback from Boston to New York, and returned a few months later. She kept a journal of her trip [The Journal of Madam Knight, originally published by Theodore Dwight, New York, 1825]. She was a shrewd woman with a sharp eye and sharper tongue so her record is very interesting.
Alice Morse Earle wrote Stage-Coach & Tavern Days, a comprehensive study of the enormous role of taverns and modes of travel in colonial culture. This was orginally printed in 1900.
David Alan Woolsey has written Libations of the Eighteenth Century: a
Concise Manual for the Brewing of Authentic Beverages from the Colonial Era of
America and of Times Past, Universal Publishers, 2002. The author is both a
re-enactor (living historian) and a beer brewer. He writes of the history and the
techniques for making the various drinks. Here you can find the medicinal qualities of spruce and
hemlock beer, the history of hops and much else. For further information see
Libations of the 18th Century
Older kids might enjoy The Tavern and the Ferry written and illustrated by Edwin Tunis, published by Thomas Y. Crowell Co., New York, 1973. This entertaining book describes the development of settlements, taverns, and ferry crossings along the Pennsylvania and New Jersey shores of the Delaware River and the events leading up to Washington's crossing of this river in 1776 on the way to the victorious battle at Trenton. The chapter headings illustrate typical tavern signs and many sketches throughout show life in the colonial era.
Old Taverns of New York, by W. Harrison Bayles, published by Frank Allaben Genealogical Co., 1915, republished by Gordon Press, 1977.
Kym S. Rice organized an exhibition at Fraunces Tavern Museum which was open from December 1982 through June 1983. The name of the exhibition was also the name of her book: Early American Taverns: For the Entertainment of Friends and Strangers, Regnery Gateway, Chicago, 1983. The book is both scholarly and a "good read" with many contemporary illustrations.
The New York Times of 25 December 1983 described the exhibition in graphic terms under the heading:
In Scholarly Pursuit, A Historic Punch
Ms. Rice's success in following an old recipe for punch is duly noted.
Updated 16 March 2012.[top]