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The Middle Ford Ferry Tavern Project, Monocacy NB


NPS archeologists work at the site of Monocacy's Middle Ford Ferry Tavern. (NPS photo)

In 2003, NPS archeologists began a multi-year archeological study of the Thomas Farm, located between Frederick, MD, and Washington, DC within the boundaries of Monocacy NB. The farm, named for its Civil-War owner, C. K. Thomas, figured prominently in the Battle of Monocacy, fought on July 9, 1864. One of the most important results of the Thomas Farm study, however, relates to the farm’s pre-Civil War history – the discovery of the Middle Ford ferry and tavern, both of which were in operation by the middle part of the eighteenth century on an important route through Frederick County.

The results of both archeological and historic research at the site provide insight into the earliest settlement and occupation of Frederick County and the surrounding region, chronicling over 80 years of expansion and transformation. Vital trade and transportation routes transformed Frederick County into a gateway to the west, facilitated the growth of population and industry, and spurred the development of roads, bridges, and thoroughfares that remain in use even today. Although the tavern and ferry disappeared long before the Battle of Monocacy, they provide the NPS with a unique opportunity to interpret the battle within a broader context: the development of Colonial transportation and trade routes which made the Monocacy region of strategic importance to both North and South during the Civil War.

The Middle Ford Ferry and Tavern on the Monocacy River.

Most of the Thomas Farm comprised a portion of a 1,400-acre land grant known as Wett Work, which was located along the east side of the Monocacy River. Wett Work was surveyed and patented in 1729 by John Abington and George Noble,1 who likely purchased the tract with the goal of subdividing it for leasing or resale, and do not appear to have occupied it.

George Washington passed through Frederick County in June 1791 and described the locale as “rather hilly, but…good, and well timbered…very rich & fine.”2 Frederick County land tracts such as Wett Work were valuable due to the extensive timber resources they contained as well as their proximity to the river. But key to the development of these resources were the transportation arteries that passed through them. The earliest of these, “the Waggon Road that leads from Frederick Town to the Mouth of Monocacy” is known today as the Buckeystown Pike, or MD Rt. 85.3

After the establishment of Frederick Town in 1745, a second road became necessary to create a more direct route between the growing city and the warehouses and other commercial centers along the Potomac River. In the March 1748 proceedings of the Frederick County Court, reference is made to a road between “Henry Ballinger’s to Hussey’s ford & the new road to the middle ford” on the east side of the Monocacy River (emphasis added).4 This “new road” crossed the Monocacy River at the Middle Ford, and after the establishment of Georgetown in 1751, the new road became known as the Georgetown Road (MD Rt. 355).5

As traffic increased on the Georgetown Road, other improvements were required.6 The first reference to a ferry at Middle Ford appears in March 1748, when Henry Ballenger entered into a contract with the county court:

to keep a ferry over the Middle Ford on Monocacy and to provide a boat or Scow and an able hand or hands to work it until the Last day of next November Court for which the said Henry Ballinger is to be allowed in the next County Levy at the rate of Ten pounds from the time he [possesses?] the ferry and has the boat or Schow ready to Convey persons over and ordered that the said Henry do not demand or take more than four pence for carrying a Man and horse over and three shillings for Waggons...7

Ballenger sold his property to Richard Richardson in 1751. Richardson, however, does not appear to have been personally involved in the operation of the Middle Ford ferry. In 1754, the Frederick County Court appointed “Thomas Beatty and William Griffith, Gentlemen, to agree for keeping a ferry at the Middle Ford on Monocacy.”8 Beatty and Griffith, in turn, appear to have contracted with Daniel Kennedy, who operated the ferry.

The first reference to a tavern at the site appears in 1754 as well, when Kennedy was awarded a license “to keep a house of Entertainment in the County of Frederick in the late Dwelling House of Richard Richardson.”9 The mention of the “late Dwelling House of Richard Richardson” indicates that the tavern structure may have been constructed as early as 1751. In 1755, Kennedy’s license was renewed for “an Ordinary or Publick House of Entertainment at the place where he now lives.”10 The presence of a tavern at the site of the Middle Ford ferry was customary; many colonies required ferry operators to keep taverns at their slips for the convenience of their customers while waiting to cross rivers and streams.

By the middle part of the eighteenth century, Frederick had “200 Houses & 2 Churches…Provisions & Forrage in Plenty.”11 The onset of the French and Indian War in 1754, however, interrupted the area’s population growth and commercial progress. As Maryland’s closest settlement to the western theater of the war, Frederick became a center for military operations against the French and their Indian allies.12 British General Edward Braddock took advantage of Frederick’s roads and location, arriving in April, 1755, where he waited to provision his troops in advance of their ill-fated assault on Fort Duquesne. In late March of that year, Braddock’s troops disembarked at Alexandria where they were divided into two sections prior to proceeding to a rendezvous point at Fort Cumberland. One column, the 44th Regiment under Sir Peter Halkett, marched through Virginia, while a second column, the 48th Regiment under Colonel Thomas Dunbar, marched through Maryland, turning northward at Bladensburg and crossing the Monocacy River at the Middle Ford ferry on April 17, 1755.13 Journal accounts kept by members of Dunbar’s 48th Regiment recorded the event:14

April 17th: March’d to Fredericks Town; 15 miles from Dowden’s, the road very Mountanious, March’d 11 Miles, when we came to a River call’d Monkiso [Monocacy], which empties itself into the Potomack; it runs very rapid, and is, after hard Rain, 13 feet deep: We ferried over in a Float for that purpose.

Thursday April the 17th. We marched to Frederick. 4 miles this side of Frederick We crossed the River Menurcus [Monocacy], it being a hundred yards Over and only one flat made the Baggage so late before it got Over that we was Oblig’d to lay in Quarters that night, it being 16 miles in a Pleasant fine Cuntry.

As these accounts indicate, ferrying the 48th Regiment and their supplies over the river was a slow and arduous process that was further hampered by inclement weather. Thus, it is likely that Dunbar’s men were entertained at Daniel Kennedy’s tavern while they waited.

James Marshall and the Middle Ford Ferry

Beginning in 1758, a Scottish immigrant named James Marshall began acquiring land in Frederick County. By the time of his death in 1803, Marshall owned nearly all of the properties that today comprise Monocacy NB.15 Marshall began acquiring property in Frederick County with his purchase of part of the Wett Work tract, located on the east side of the Monocacy River. In 1765, Marshall purchased approximately 885 acres on the opposite side of the river, and in 1768 he had this new acreage resurveyed into a tract that he called Arcadia.16 By so doing, Marshall effectively controlled land on both sides of the Monocacy River, establishing him as a key player in transportation and commerce in the region during a period of intense commercial and population growth. Although seldom involved in the daily functioning and management of the Middle Ford ferry and tavern, Marshall owned the land upon which the tavern and ferry were situated throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Marshall is believed to have constructed the large brick manor house known today as the Thomas House around 1780.


Ceramics such as slip-decorated redware, white salt-glazed stoneware, and handpainted pearlware provide clues about trade, lifestyle, and consumption habits. (NPS photo)

Starting in 1772, a series of individuals were appointed by the Frederick County Court “to keep the Ferry over Monocacy at Mr. Marshalls.” While appointed by the county court, ferry licensees entered into a rental agreement with James Marshall for the ferry along with the “plantation adjoining.” The tavern appears to have been operated in conjunction with the ferry, although it is not often specifically referenced in the surviving ferry leases.

Marshall’s various legal entanglements with his ferry operators, who often defaulted on their contracts, are some of the only historic references to the ferry and tavern. One surviving document provides a description of the ferry boat itself: a builder named James Fitzgerald was hired to construct it, and was paid for his transportation and “Accommodations in diet & lodging 19 days.” The boat measured 45 ft in length and was constructed of “Timber, Plank, Iron, nails, & Oakum.” It was secured by 330 ft of 4 ½-inch rope manufactured in Baltimore and transported to the ferry site at the tenant’s expense.

The 1800 census records James Marshall as residing in Frederick Town District No. 2 with 16 slaves and three adult women, while his son William is recorded as living alone with three slaves in the Buckeystown District (which included both the tavern site and the manor house). It is not apparent who was leasing the ferry and tavern at this time; it’s possible that some of James Marshall’s enslaved laborers may have been tasked with their operation. Indeed, in 1805, an enslaved individual named Lanham ran away from Marshall’s daughter Eleanor and her husband John L. Harding (Lanham originally belonged to James Marshall). Harding’s advertisement for Lanham’s return describes him as being “well acquainted with the ferrying business.”17

James Marshall died in 1803, leaving behind a substantial amount of real estate and other personal property. Marshall specified that the majority of his property was to be sold at public sale, but reserved a portion of his estate for his five children: Mary, Mary Ann, Chloe, William, and Eleanor. The youngest girls, Mary and Mary Ann, each received £50 and “a good bed and all furniture for said bed.” Mary Ann also received “a mulatto girl named Maria daughter of Mulatto Jane.” Maria, who is identified as seven years of age, was to serve Mary Ann until she reached the age of 25, when she was “to be liberated & become a free Woman for the rest of the life of her.” One-half of the remainder of Marshall’s estate was to be equally divided between William and Chloe, “excepting certain Articles” that Marshall reserved for Eleanor. William and Chloe received Marshall’s Wett Work property, including the manor house and the Middle Ford ferry and tavern. On February 18, 1804, executors William and Eleanor Marshall placed the following advertisement in the Frederick Town Herald:

SALE. On the 15th of March next, Will be exposed to Public Sale, by the Subscribers, on the farm of the late James Marshall, deceased, near the Middle Ferry on Monocacy; the following property, consisting of Negroes, Carriages, Waggons, Horses and Geers, Cattle, Hogs, Farming Utensils, and sundry other articles too tedious to mention...

William Marshall’s landholdings increased in 1807, when his sister Chloe died and left him her share of their father’s estate. Although the Georgetown Road was chartered as a turnpike by the State of Maryland in 1805, William Marshall apparently continued to be responsible for operation of the ferry and tavern.18

The Middle Ford Ferry’s Demise

In March 1812, William Marshall began advertising his property for sale in the Frederick Town Herald:19

The subscriber will expose to public sale, the farm whereon he now lives, part of a tract of land called “Wet Work,” containing, four hundred and ten acres, Lying about three or four miles from Frederick-Town. The main road leading from Frederick to Georgetown runs through it, dividing it completely for two farms, leaving on one side about 250 acres with a handsome brick building, as neatly finished as any in the country – on the other side, about 150 acres, with as good a mill seat and constant stream of water, as any to be found, agreeably to the size of the stream. On this lot there is about 40 or 50 acres of wheat and rye seeded in good order and time. On the lot 250 acres, about one hundred is seeded down in wheat and rye, in very good order.

In August 1812, Colonel John McPherson purchased 415 acres from William Marshall, including the parcel with the brick manor house and ferry.20 McPherson was a substantial property owner and entrepreneur who purchased several parcels of land in the Monocacy area during the first two decades of the nineteenth century.21 McPherson’s son, John McPherson, Jr. also purchased several land tracts during this time, including 119 acres from John L. Harding, husband of Eleanor [Marshall] Harding.

The McPherson family’s purchases of property in the Monocacy area occurred around the same time as a number of other important changes and developments. In 1805, the Georgetown Pike was chartered by the State of Maryland, and around 1828, a covered wooden bridge carrying the Georgetown Pike over the Monocacy River was constructed. The bridge was constructed just upriver from the Middle Ford ferry crossing and necessitated realignment of the Georgetown Pike slightly east.22 John Martineau’s 1829 map of the proposed Monocacy Canal shows the location of the bridge as well as the new road alignment.

With the road realignment and construction of the bridge, the Middle Ford ferry and its associated tavern likely ceased operation; however, the 1829 Martineau map depicts an unnamed structure – probably the tavern – east of the old Georgetown Road, indicating that a structure still stood in that location after construction of the bridge. The time frame of the realignment of the road, construction of the bridge, and abandonment of the tavern is also reflected in an 1837 deed referencing “the said old road now shut up,” suggesting that the road leading north from the ferry landing had been closed for some time.23

Archeology at the Middle Ford Ferry Tavern


Personal items like this fork, nit comb, and key provide a window into the everyday lives of tavern patrons. (NPS photo)

Over the decades, traces of both the old road and the tavern have vanished into the landscape. Archeological research and excavation, however, have contributed greatly to understanding and interpreting these important historic resources. In addition to determining the tavern’s precise spatial location, excavations there have refined understanding of its period of use and eligibility for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

The tavern site is situated on the east side of the original trace of the Georgetown Road, just downstream from the original ferry crossing. Archeological excavations have identified the remnants of the primary tavern structure, including its stone hearth and chimney fall. A large midden feature containing a dense deposit of domestic refuse, architectural debris, and food remains dating to the late eighteenth century just east of the main structure has also been identified.

The tavern structure appears to have measured approximately 15 by 20 feet and was likely constructed of log. Situated on a relatively steep slope, the building was probably supported by a brick foundation, and featured an asymmetrical stone chimney. Some form of interior finishing was present, as evidenced by whitewashed plaster fragments recovered at the site, and excavations indicate the presence of a partial cellar or crawl space. The structure was likely part of a complex which may have included a stable or a paddock. Excavations uncovered evidence that the tavern was burned and reconstructed on at least two separate occasions.

The size and construction of the Middle Ford Ferry tavern is in keeping with structures of the same period elsewhere in the region. An inventory of tenant houses on Lord Baltimore’s Conococheague Manor (in present-day Washington County) indicates that approximately 77% (130 out of 171) of the buildings erected on the Manor were constructed of round logs, with an average house footprint of 23 by 17 feet.24 Chimney construction is infrequently noted in the Conococheague inventory; however, five stone base chimneys are noted. Nearby Monocacy Manor (in present-day Frederick County) included 26 dwellings with a stone base chimney.25

Over 10,000 artifacts have been recovered from the tavern site thus far, and while in-depth artifact analyses are still being conducted, a basic categorization of the recovered materials has been completed. Architectural materials such as brick fragments, mortar, and hand-wrought nails constitute over 40% of the assemblage; fragments of glassware and ceramics account for nearly 30%; just under 20% were food remains such as bone and oyster shell; and a wide variety of personal items including buttons, coins, lice combs, thimbles, and shoe buckles make up the balance. Datable artifacts – particularly ceramics – indicate the site was occupied from at least the 1740s until about 1830 or so, confirming information contained in the primary historic record.

The Middle Ford Ferry Tavern in Context

An examination of the social and legal underpinnings of rural taverns in Colonial America provides contextual information which helps to illustrate life at the Middle Ford ferry tavern. The presence of a tavern at the Middle Ford ferry site was more necessity than luxury; long-distance travel in eighteenth-century America was hazardous and fatiguing, and colonial roads were often badly marked and poorly maintained. Inclement weather was often a factor as well; a 1773 account of “a most tedious Journey” between New York and Philadelphia notes that the trip was “occasion’d by heavy Rains & high Winds which prevented my crossing the Ferries.”26 As a result of these potential hazards, many colonies passed laws that “required ferry operators to keep taverns at their slips for the convenience of their customers.”27

In Maryland, the need for taverns was recognized as early as 1662, when the General Assembly acknowledged that “there is a necessity of alloweing and Keeping Victualling howses for the Entertaynmt of all persons…And for want of such Victualling howses divers[e] persons are either exposed to greate hazards of their healths or much burthensome to particular adjacent Neighbours.”28 Maryland tavern keepers were expected to provide “Sufficient accomodacon” for both man and beast, including “three spare beds, with covering, and sufficient stabling and provender for six horses at least, under the penalty of eight hundred pounds of tobacco.”29

In most colonies, including Maryland, tavern proprietors were required to acquire and maintain a license. An individual usually presented an application by petitioning the county court, which generally involved posting a bond and paying a fee; in 1780, the annual fee for a tavern license in Maryland was £6.30 The county court considered a number of factors before granting a license, including the financial status of the would-be tavern keeper, the suitability of the proposed location, the number of taverns already in operation in the area, and the tavern keeper’s perceived ability to successfully discharge his duties.31 Most colonies permitted women to operate taverns; as a result, tavern-keeping emerged as one of the only legal occupations available to women during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.32 In Maryland, a woman was permitted to operate a tavern only if she was the “head of house in which such ordinary shall be kept.”33

The penalty for operating a tavern without a license was substantial; in 1678, the Maryland General Assembly stipulated that “any other person that shall presume to keepe ordinary without Licence…shall for every moneth he or they shall keepe Ordinary as aforesaid forfeit and pay to the Lord Proprietary tenn thousand pounds of Tobacco.”34 By 1780, the penalty had been reduced but was still substantial: 600 pounds of tobacco for every offense.35

In addition to the licensing requirement, the Maryland General Assembly attempted to regulate the prices charged for food, drink, and lodging. As the number of taverns proliferated, however, the responsibility for setting and enforcing price limits was shifted to the county courts. In order to ensure full statutory compliance, a 1780 law mandated that approved rates and prices be “transcribed and set up, in some public place in their respective county court-house, that every person may peruse the same, a copy of which rates, every ordinary-keeper…is hereby obliged to keep and set up, in the most public and convenient place of his house, for the perusal of all persons whatsoever.”36 If a tavern keeper failed to post the county court’s rates, he or she could be fined 600 pounds of tobacco, and overcharging carried a penalty of 300 pounds of tobacco per infraction.


Glass from the Tavern site. (NPS photo)

As taverns proliferated, legislators became aware of the social ills their presence encouraged, such as drunkenness, brawling, prostitution, and gambling. Taverns, it was said, were “little better than Nurseries of Vice and Debauchery, and tend very much to encrease the Number of Poor.”37 As a result, colonial legislatures passed laws criminalizing certain behaviors. In many colonies, including Maryland, it was illegal to drink on the Sabbath and holidays, and it was also generally illegal to serve slaves, free blacks, apprentices, Indians, servants, and seamen without the permission of their masters or ships’ captains.38 In 1780, the Maryland General Assembly forbade ordinary keepers from harboring, entertaining, or selling liquor to:

Any indented apprentice, or apprentice bound out by any county court of this state, or any bought, indented or convicted servant, or any slave…without leave or license in writing first had and obtained from the respective master, mistress, or owner, of such apprentice, servant or slave…

Laws regarding the entertainment of enslaved individuals, free African Americans, servants, and apprentices were particularly stringent, as encouraging such individuals to congregate and consume alcoholic beverages was widely regarded as counterproductive. Such behavior was also thought to be a threat to public safety which increased the possibility of insurrection. Local authorities were “eager to uphold the laws that helped control the city’s servile classes,” and when infractions were committed, both the consumer and the provider were viewed as guilty of violating the law.39

The burden of maintaining order in taverns was placed squarely on the licensee; in Maryland, a tavern license could be revoked if a tavern keeper was guilty of “keeping evill Rule and order in his house and suffering Extraordinary drinking fighting and Quarelling.”40 Very few infractions, however, were actually prosecuted. Indeed, drunkenness was generally only a legal matter when it was combined with some other public nuisance, such as spousal abuse, debt, or illicit sex. When individuals were found to be engaging in public drunkenness, drinking on the Sabbath, or other prohibited activities, oftentimes “officials targeted the tavern keepers and held them responsible” rather than the perpetrator.41 Heavy fines and stringent licensing procedures did not prevent the proliferation of unlicensed taverns, known as “tippling houses.” Such establishments often served those persons barred from licensed premises, including slaves, Indians, and servants, and were widely regarded as scenes of “profane language, horrid oaths, and imprecations.”42

The quality of services provided at colonial taverns varied widely, particularly in rural areas. Southern’s tavern, for example, located at Southern Ferry on the south side of the Rappahannock River in Virginia, was described by one disgruntled patron as “no more than a mere Hut, full of rude mean people…every one…inflamed with liquor and exceeding turbulent and noisy.”43 William Logan’s account of a trip between Pennsylvania and Georgia recalls a tavern where he “lodged…in a very nasty room.” In North Carolina, he stopped at a tavern that was “by far the worse we have met with; there being a stinking ordinary Bed [and] an earthen floor.”44 Dirty rooms and drunken guests were not the only problems in rural taverns; a lodger at a tavern in Deerfield, New Hampshire in 1773 was rendered sleepless by the “myriads of fleas” in his room.45

Rural taverns could also be quite pleasant: while traveling through Maryland and New Jersey in 1797 and 1798, a Polish diplomat named Julian Niemcewicz “stopped for dinner in Tan[e]y Town, a so-called town” but nonetheless found the inn to be “very good and the dinner tasty.”46 Traveling through rural Pennsylvania, John Penn found a provincial tavern to be “worthy of a respectable country town” where he “dined heartily upon catfish, which the river plentifully affords,” and in the small town of Newport, Delaware, Penn found “proper entertainment for horse and man” in spite of the presence of “two rustics completely drunk and by degrees becoming less and less intelligible.”47

The variable quality of services at rural taverns was primarily a result of location, but it may also have been a function of the nature of tavern-keeping in general. Outside of urban areas, most tavern proprietors engaged in other work, such as farming or shopkeeping, and operated a tavern to supplement other income.48 Such circumstances often impacted the quality of services provided; a visitor to a North Carolina tavern, for example, remarked that the proprietor was “doing too much agriculture and [his wife] is doing too much spinning, dying etc. – things which hinder them very much in their real job.”49 As previously noted, a few of the leasing agreements for the Middle Ford ferry and tavern survive, and indicate that the lessee was responsible for operation of the “plantation thereto adjoining” as well as the ferry itself, suggesting that operation of the tavern was somewhat of a secondary function.50

The appeal of tavern-keeping as an expedient source of supplemental income was likely increased by the rather minimal effort required to do so; in the words of Julian Niemcewicz, “the trade of innkeeper is profitable without a great deal of work.”51 Indeed, tavern proprietors “often converted their own houses into ordinaries merely by posting a sign, serving liquor, and setting up additional beds for guests.”52 As a result, the variety of food and drink served in rural taverns was often simple; “whatever the tavern keeper had on hand for his/her own family and was willing to share.”53 Particularly in rural settings, seasonality played a significant role in the availability of fruits and vegetables, and preserved meats were not uncommon. In coastal areas, shellfish were commonly served. Nearly three-quarters of the faunal materials recovered from the Middle Ford Ferry tavern site were oyster shells, perhaps reflecting what a French traveler described as the American “passion for oysters.”54

As taverns were often set up in private homes with undifferentiated interior spaces, it was not uncommon in the American colonies for unacquainted travelers to share beds. French traveler Mederic Louis Elie Moreau de St. Méry was horrified to discover that perfect strangers were frequently “admitted to the same room…Even while one traveler is asleep, another often enters to share his bed…I cannot help but rebel at the nonsensical belief that such customs are a proof of liberty.”55 Given the rather small footprint of the Middle Ford Ferry tavern structure, it is possible that such a practice occurred there with relative frequency.

In addition to providing food and lodging, rural taverns served a number of other important functions. Given its location on a major stagecoach route, the Middle Ford Ferry tavern may have functioned as an ad hoc post office where patrons could post letters and exchange newspapers and gossip. Apart from newspapers and gossip, many rural taverns attempted to provide other forms of entertainment. While most did not have the multiple rooms necessary to accommodate a billiard table, musical instruments, or similar amenities, many provided diversions in the form of games of chance, gambling, or dice, and were sometimes the site of popular spectator sports such as horse races, cockfights, bear- and bull-baiting, fist fights, and wrestling matches.56 However, in spite of the popularity of gaming in colonial America, it was generally strictly prohibited by law and was looked upon as “an amusement wholly unworthy [of] rational beings, having neither the pretence of exercising the body, of exerting ingenuity, or of giving natural pleasure.”57 While no direct evidence of gaming at the Middle Ford Ferry tavern has emerged, a number of small unidentified ceramic and stone objects have been recovered, which may have been utilized in table games.

Whatever the various activities that may have occurred at the Middle Ford Ferry tavern, drinking was certainly the most popular form of recreation. As early as 1666, Marylanders had access to “french wyne,” “ffrench brandy,” “Madera,” “Canary and Malligoe,” “Porto port and other Portugall wine,” “Strong Cider,” “Clarrett,” “strong beere or Ale either made within this Province or brought from fforeign Parts,” “Rumm,” “English Spriritts,” Anniseed Rosa Solis,” and “Perry and Quince drink.”58 Other popular beverages of the period included punch and eggnog, along with concoctions bearing such picturesque names as “flip,” “sling,” “bounce,” “toddy,” and “sangaree.” Given its proximity to the Georgetown Road, it is likely that a wide variety of beverages were available at the Middle Ford Ferry tavern. Moreover, records indicate that by the 1790s over 400 stills were in operation in Frederick County, suggesting that locally-produced beer, cider, and distilled spirits were readily available.59

The Middle Ford Ferry tavern was likely similar in nature to these other rural taverns, a way station where food, drink, and lodging may not have been of the highest quality, but which provided a welcome respite for the weary traveler who passed on the Georgetown Road. Indeed, both ferry and tavern were key elements of the growing network of trade and transportation routes which pushed development along the frontier. As such, the tavern and ferry continued to serve travelers on the Georgetown Road for nearly 80 years until progress, in the form of a new covered bridge, led to its demise in the 1830s.


  1. Paula S. Reed, Ph.D. with Edith B. Wallace, Cultural Resources Study Monocacy
    National Battlefield
    [MONO CRS] (On file, Monocacy National Battlefield, 1999), 6, 66; Grace L. Tracey and John P. Dern, Pioneers of Old Monocacy: The Early Settlement of Frederick County, Maryland, 1721-1743 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1987), 30.
  2. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, 1741-1799: The Diaries of George Washington, page 166.
  3. MSA Land Office, Certificate of Survey, IC 1, pg. 390, Film. No. SR7768.
  4. Cited in Reed, MONO CRS, 67; MSA Frederick County Court Judgment Records, March Court 1748.
  5. Reed (MONO CRS, 67) has noted that Tracey and Dern (Pioneers, 51) identify a “middle ford” near the mouth of the Monocacy that is referenced in pre-1745 records. According to Reed, “later records suggest that as population and road development accelerated through the 1740s following the establishment of Frederick Town, a new designation of ‘middle ford’ was given to the ford over [the] Monocacy just south of Frederick Town, perhaps because it was closer to the ‘middle’ of the Monocacy in Frederick County. References to this crossing being called ‘Middle Ford’ or ‘Middle Ferry’ occur with more frequency in later records but may have begun at about the time that Frederick County was formed.”
  6. Reed, MONO CRS, 66; MSA Vol. 44, p. 607 and 609.
  7. MSA Frederick County Court Judgment Records, March Court 1748.
  8. Cited in Reed, MONO CRS, 68.
  9. MSA Frederick Judgment Records, November 1754.
  10. MSA, Frederick Judgment Records, March 1755.
  11. Archer Butler Hulbert, “Braddock's Road and Three Relative Papers,” in Historic Highways of America, Volume 4 (Cleveland: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1903), 85-86.
  12. Angela R. Commito, “The French and Indian War in Mid-Maryland,” Catoctin History (Spring/Summer 2005, Issue #5):42
  13. Reed, MONO CRS, 68; Commito, “The French and Indian War,” 44.
  14. Cited in Hulbert, “Braddock's Road,” 85; Charles Hamilton, Braddock's Defeat, (Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1959), 10-11.
  15. Reed, MONO CRS, 74.
  16. Reed, MONO CRS, 73-75; Frederick County Land Records [FRLR], Liber J, Folio 1136; Liber K, Folio 618.
  17. Reed, MONO CRS, 83; Frederick Town Herald [FTH], August 2, 1806.
  18. “Thomas Dinmore Recog. keeping ferry over Monocacy at Marshalls. Filed 23 Fbry.1810”; University of Maryland Archives and Manuscripts Department, McKeldin Library, College Park, Maryland, Item Number 1943; “William Marshall Recog. keeping ferry over Monocacy at Marshalls ferry. Filed 30th November.1811”; University of Maryland Archives and Manuscripts Department, McKeldin Library, College Park, Maryland, Item Number 229
  19. Reed, MONO CRS, 175.
  20. William Marshall relocated to Ohio in 1812 and died in Cincinnati in 1849 at the age of 80.
  21. Reed, MONO CRS, 175-176.
  22. Historic American Building Survey [HABS], Clifton Farm, HABS NO. MD-1052, (On file at Monocacy National Battlefield, Frederick, Maryland); National Park Service, Cultural Landscape Inventory, Monocacy National Battlefield [CLI] (On file at Monocacy National Battlefield, Frederick, Maryland, 2000), 2.9.
  23. NPS, CLI, 2.12
  24. Paul D. McDermott, “Conococheague Manor: A View of Early Settlement and Vernacular Architecture in the Backcountry,” In Catoctin History, Issue #7 Spring/Summer 2006, 38.
  25. McDermott, “Conococheague Manor,” 40.
  26. William Palfrey to Susannah Palfrey, New York, December 28, 1773; cited in Rice 1983:74.
  27. Rice, Early American Taverns, 46.
  28. MSA, Assembly Proceedings, April 1662. Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly January 1637/8-September 1664, Volume 1, Page 447.
  29. “Provender” is dry food for domestic animals, such as hay, straw, corn, oats, or a mixture of ground grain. MSA, Volume 2, Page 346 - Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, April 1666-June 1676; May 20, 1674; Volume 7, Page 67 - Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, October 1678-Novermber 1683. MSA, Volume 203, Page 240 - Hanson's Laws of Maryland 1763-1784.
  30. Nancy L. Struna, People of Prowess: Sport, Leisure, and Labor in Early Anglo-America (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996), 147; MSA, Volume 203, Page 239 - Hanson's Laws of Maryland 1763-1784.
  31. Rice, Early American Taverns, 61; Peter Thompson Rum Punch and Revolution: Taverngoing & Public Life in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999) 43.
  32. Struna, People of Prowess, 83.
  33. MSA, Volume 203, Page 240 - Hanson's Laws of Maryland 1763-1784.
  34. MSA, Volume 7, Page 68 - Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, October 1678-November 1683; November 1678.
  35. MSA, Volume 203, Page 241 - Hanson's Laws of Maryland 1763-1784.
  36. MSA, Volume 203, Page 240 - Hanson's Laws of Maryland 1763-1784.
  37. “Some Indictments by the Grand Jury of Philadelphia,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 22 (1898):497-498.
  38. Sharon V. Salinger, Taverns and Drinking in Early America (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), 91; Rice, Early American Taverns, 69.
  39. Salinger, Taverns and Drinking, 129-133.
  40. MSA, Volume 7, Page 67-68 - Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, October 1678-November 1683; November 1678.
  41. Salinger, Taverns and Drinking, 95-96.
  42. Cited in Thompson, Rum Punch, 43.
  43. Cited in Salinger, Taverns and Drinking, 8.
  44. “William Logan's Journal of a Journey to Georgia, 1745.” In The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 36 [1912]:210.
  45. Cited in Donna-Belle Garvin and James L. Garvin, On the Road North of Boston: New Hampshire Taverns and Turnpikes 1700-1900 (Lebanon, New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 1988, 78.
  46. Budka, Under their Vine, 27, 118.
  47. “John Penn's Journal of a Visit to Reading, Harrisburg, Carlisle, and Lancaster in 1788.” In The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 3 [1879]:286-287, 295.
  48. Rice, Early American Taverns, 66; Garvin and Garvin, On the Road, 113.
  49. Cited in Rice Early American Taverns, 66.
  50. Frederick County Court Judgment Records November Term 1782, pg. 379, Edward Crabb vs. James Marshall.
  51. Budka, Under their Vine, 114.
  52. Salinger, Taverns and Drinking, 54.
  53. Rice, Early American Taverns, 86.
  54. Cited in Garvin and Garvin, On the Road, 150-151.
  55. Anna and Kenneth Roberts (editors), Moreau de St. Mery's American Journey 1793-1798 (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1947), 121-122.
  56. Rice, Early American Taverns, 112; Struna, People of Prowess, 143-144; Salinger, Taverns and Drinking, 71-74.
  57. Cited in Garvin and Garvin, On the Road, 29.
  58. MSA, Volume 2, Page 149 - Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, April 1666-June 1676; Assembly Proceedings, April-May 1666.
  59. NPS, CLI, 2.4.

Read more about the Middle Ford Ferry Tavern Archeological Project.

Report contributed by Joy Beasley.