Cole’s Bad Inn

*The Kentucky Explorer is a Copyrighted Publication. Thanks to the Kentucky Explorer for the use of this article & image, used with their permission.

The cookhouse, right, and the springhouse, left, were both spared when Wait's Place burned in 1956. Today, the old buildings are difficult to see as you travel US HWY 421 in Woodford County, because of the trees and brush grown up beside the road. (Original photo courtesy of Frieda Curtis Wheatley.)

Cole’s Tavern in Woodford County Had Dubious Reputation

Popular Hangout For Hearing Politics and Gossip in Early 1800’s

By Frieda Curtis-Wheatley - 2002

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Richard Cole's tavern had a dubious reputation. Cumming, on his tour to the Western country between 1807 and 1809, states, "Quitting Frankfort, we took a different route which brought us, after riding ten miles mostly through woods, to Cole's who keeps an inn on this road in opposition to Daly, on the other end. But any traveler, who has once contrasted Cole's rough vulgarity and the badness of his table and accommodations, with the taste, order, plenty, and good attendance of his mulatto competitor, will never trouble Mr. Cole a second time; especially as there is no sensible difference in the length or goodness of the roads, and that by Daly's is through a generally much better settled country."

Cumming had been to Leestown, which had been laid out by Hancock Lee in 1775. It was one of the earliest settlements in Kentucky, located on the Kentucky River below present day Frankfort.

Since it was commonplace for people to frequent taverns to learn what was going on in the Eastern states from the travelers passing through, as well as hearing the local politics and gossip, the taverns became a hangout for idlers. Manners were often rough in the country taverns. The host of the early taverns and inns had little choice in selecting the daily menu, as he was dependant on a hunter's prowess to provide the meat. Venison, bear, wild turkey, or other small game was usually served. Most tavern's lodging consisted of rooms with two beds, often shared with three or four strangers. When the rooms were full, the overflow travelers had no choice but to roll up in their blankets and stretch out with their feet toward the fire on the public room floor.

Ann Hubbard-Cole died at the age of 65 on February 11, 1795, and was buried in the Cole cemetery on this site. Richard Cole married Emsey Margaret James, after the death of Ann. In 1810 Richard Cole, Sr., had two members in his family and five slaves.

In the winter of 1811, Richard Cole's Tavern & Inn was destroyed by fire. Mr. Cole died three years later, on November 21, 1814, at the age of 85 years. He, too, was buried in the Cole family cemetery. He had nine children, some leaving their mark in history.

Richard Cole, Jr., bought the Offutt Inn in 1812. Offutt had obligated himself to put his dwelling house and kitchen in good repair and to erect a log stable, about 1840, to be used as the first stage tavern and halfway house for travelers between Lexington and Frankfort. It later became known as the Black Horse Inn and stands today at Nugents Crossroads, south of Midway in Woodford County, Kentucky. Richard Cole, Jr., was the grandfather of Zerelda Cole, mother of Frank and Jesse James.

Alsey Cole, daughter of Richard Cole, Sr., married Anthony Lindsey in 1788. Anthony Lindsey built Lindsey's Fort in Scott County about 1790.


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