May 20. 2014
200 years ago today, Adam Housh was taking stock of his recently acquired inventory for the tavern that he had opened on his brother’s land in the Knobs above the old ford of the Muscatatuk River. He had to pay a $2 annual licensing fee and $1 in clerk’s fees for the issuing of the license by the Judges of the Washington Circuit Court. With the Federal Whiskey Excise Tax having been repealed in 1802, many distilleries cropped up all over the Indiana Territory so an ample supply of spirits should be readily available. The first distilleries near Housh were operated by George Brock, William Gordon and John Fleenor. Since John Fleenor had given the surety bond for the tavern license of Adam House, he expected Housh to be a ready market for his liquor product. In April 1814, the Washington Circuit Court had entered an order setting the maximum prices that a tavern keeper could charge for his services and provender. These set prices were as follows:
Bed, 6 ¼ cents per night
Breakfast, dinner and supper 25 cents per meal
Horse to hay and fodder 12 ½ cents per night
Rum, peach brandy or wine 37 ½ cents per half pint
All other spirits 12 ½ cents per half pint
“Cyder” and beer 16 2/3 cents per quart
Housh was unclear as to whether 6 ¼ cents bought a private bed for the night or just 1 space in a bed as travelling men often had to sleep 2 to 3 to a bed. Housh was also glad to be closer to Driftwood Township than other parts of the county as the Indiana Militia was often called out to foray north in search of rogue Indian raiders. Each Ranger was given a generous whiskey allowance while on duty.
Housh’s brother Andrew who owned the land where the tavern was located was expecting a visit from the Washington County Lister, Alexander Little. He was to keep property lists for tax purposes and then file the list with Isaac Blackford as the Clerk of the Court. Sheriff William Hoggatt then collected the taxes and reviewed compliance with charges such as the tavern rates. As Little had planted the first peach orchard in the county, he was pleased with the rate set for peach brandy by Judges Jonathan Lindley, Simeon Lamb, and Moses Hoggatt.