|George Washington's Southern Tour passed through Charlotte Court House|
|George Washington was determined, as President, to visit every one of the states that constituted the new nation. In 1791, he journeyed through the Carolinas to Georgia, returning to Virginia across the Dan River and from there across the Staunton (Roanoke) River into Charlotte County. Although his diary (see below) makes little comment on the breakfast there, other correspondence and local tradition indicate that he dined at Tankersley Tavern, the same tavern where Patrick Henry either made his last speech or retired there afterward, in 1799; at the same occasion in 1799, John Randolph made his first public speech. Henry, Virginia's first Governor not appointed by the king, was returning to public life (at the request of George Washington), as a candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates. Randolph was a candidate for the U. S. Congress. Taverns in those days were conveniences, not luxuries. The original Tankersley Tavern was a large frame building, 52' x 20', with two chimneys. Patrick Henry, in poor health and exhausted from his speech in 1799, rested there while John Randolph spoke. The brick building that currently stands in that location is smaller than the original tavern.|
from President Washington's Diary:
June 1791 Sunday 5th. Left the old Town [Halifax] about 4 Oclock A.M.; & breakfasting at one Pridies (after crossing Banister River 1½ Miles) abt. 11 Miles from it, came to Staunton River about 12; where meeting Colo. Isaac Coles (formerly a member of Congress for this district &) who pressing me to it, I went to his house about one mile off to dine and to halt a day, for the refreshment of myself and horses; leaving my Servants and them at one of the usually indifferent Taverns at the Ferry that they might give no trouble, or be inconvenient to a private family.
NOTES: The Staunton River is the main branch of the Roanoke River. Isaac Coles of Halifax County (see entry for 26 Dec. 1789) probably met GW at Coles Ferry about ten miles southeast of present-day Brookneal, Va. Coles, observed William Loughton Smith in May, "is a man of genteel fortune, and has a pretty considerable plantation here, with other estates" (SMITH , 70).
Monday 6th. Finding my Horses fared badly at the ferry for want of Grass, & Colo. Coles kindly pressing me to bring them to his Pasture, they were accordingly brought there to take the run of it till night. Dined at this Gentlemans to day also. The Road from Hallifax old Ct. Ho. or town to Staunton River passes for the most part over thin land a good deal mixed with Pine. Tuesday 7th. Left Colo. Coles by day break, and breakfasted at Charlotte Ct. Ho. 15 Miles where I was detained sometime to get Shoes put on such horses as had lost them. Proceeded afterwards to Prince Edward Court House 20 Miles further. The Lands from Coles ferry on Staunton to Charlotte Ct. Ho. are in genl. good; & pretty thickly settled. They are cultivated chiefly in Tobo. wheat & Corn, with Oats & flax. The Houses (tho' none elegt.) are in genl. decent, & bespeak good livers; being for the most part weatherboarded & Shingled, with brick Chimnies....
Richard N. Venable (1763--1838), a Peytonsburg lawyer who was at Charlotte Court House on 6 June 1791, noted in his diary the "great Anxiety in the people to see Genl. Washington. Strange is the impulse which is felt by almost every breast, to see the face of a Great good man & one of whom we have heard much spoken" (Richard N. Venable Diary, ViHi). Established in 1765, Charlotte Court House remains the seat of Charlotte County (GAINES , 7).