Cole’s Bad Inn

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Cole's Tavern was located on US HWY 421 in Woodford County, Kentucky. Date of map unknown.
(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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In October of 1874, William Edward Waits and R. L. Waits purchased land located on the Leestown dirt road from Thomas H. Bedford, the guardian of several Bedford children. On April 11, 1891, Henry Waits bought the property containing about 146 acres from Edward Waits. The one-acre graveyard was not conveyed. Mr. Waits, a bachelor of Woodford County, died intestate in 1925. On January 5, 1926, Thomas Roach bought the property from the Waits heirs. The land was located on the Leestown turnpike, four miles west of Midway.

An 11-room frame house was constructed on the side of the old Cole Tavern, about the years 1866 to 1871, making it between 85-90 years old when it burned on April 12, 1956. The cookhouse, located about 50 feet behind the house, was spared along with the springhouse. The springhouse was built over a small stream which ran under the building, for cooking purposes, and out the other side. An old map shows this stream of water called Cole's Branch. In later years the property was referred to as the Waits Place. My aunt's family occupied this house, located on the Leestown Pike (US 421) for a number of years in the 1930s and early 1940s. My sister, Maxine, and I were born in this house, even though our parents, Wesley and Atha Pettit-Curtis, had a home in Scott County, Kentucky. Some years before this house was destroyed by fire, the road elevation in front of the house was raised. Today the old cookhouse and springhouse are difficult to see as you drive by, because of the trees and brush grown up beside the road. The one lone tombstone stands for Ann Hubbard-Cole (1730-1795), surrounded by a black wooden fence on the hill. In the 1930s many stones were in the graveyard, but have disappeared with time.

I have always heard the tavern referred to as Cole's Bad Inn, justified or not, I don't know. There is no historical marker.

Information obtained from the History of Woodford County, by Railey; Early Western Travels; Stagecoach Days in the Bluegrass; Court Records and a Lexington newspaper.

Frieda Curtis-Wheatley
6517 Downs Branch Road
Louisville, KY 40228
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