From 1793 to 1797, in a script fine and feathery, an Old Stone Tavern innkeeper recorded the names and accounts of his pioneer patrons. He wrote down, still using English pounds and shillings, what his customers ate, what they drank and what they bought, from beef and bacon, cloth and clothing, to hay and oats for their horses.
As the earliest written record of the tavern, the ledger serves of a who’s who of early Western Pennsylvania patriots. In fact, some 109 American Revolutionary soldiers downed a pint or two at this favorite watering hole.
Today our Carnegie Library is in possession the Tavern’s ledger, digitized online here, that also covers a critical time in the Whiskey Rebellion over federal taxation. Members feel that finding this ledger is like finding the Rosetta Stone of Pittsburgh history.
On February 17, 2014 a half dozen of the Pittsburgh’s Old Stone Tavern Friend Trust group scheduled a visit to see the Ledger which is kept in the “William R. Oliver Special Collections Room” (or just “Oliver Room”) if the Carnegie Library main branch in Oakland. We were also privileged to see a number of other books ranging from the late 1400’s on, as well as going over the Old Stone Tavern ledger.
More recently this historical document has been lovingly restored, in part with a financial contribution of $1000 from donations made to our organization, and was displayed at a rare public appearance at our 2019 annual meeting in the Carnegie Library’s West End branch on May 4, 2019. Carnegie Library’s Services Administrator, Jennifer Pickle-Styran graciously brought it from the main branch, showing the custom case built to hold it and letting attendees review specific pages.
JOHN WOODS NOTED AS WHISKEY REBELLION “SPY” IN THE LEDGER:
Our current review of the ledger against the University of Pittsburgh’s digital library (direct link to the ledger here) found information on over two hundred of the people named in the journal! Of those, a few dozen are veterans of the American Revolution, over four dozen were participants in the Whiskey Rebellion, and more than a dozen took part in the War of 1812 (see a list here). We eventually hope to share, and cross reference, all this history on this website as part of our project.