Historians find evidence of famous visitor at West Virginia tavern

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Historians find evidence of famous visitor at West Virginia tavern
William Clark documented his stay at the Halfway House in a diary. (Photo courtesy Lewis and Clark Trust)

ANSTED, W.Va. — Historians investigating the history of a landmark tavern in southern West Virginia have uncovered evidence that explorer William Clark, of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, lodged there in the 1820s.

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While it is known that many famous travelers sought accommodations at the Tyree Tavern, or Halfway House, developers restoring the property as a museum have found a hidden history. They are requesting public help in discovering more.

Estimated to be as old as the tavern itself, a sycamore shades the lawn of the landmark. (Photo courtesy Dave Sibray)

Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and vice-president John C. Breckinridge were all known to have visited the tavern. Clark's presence was unknown until a diary entry was recently uncovered in the archives of the Lewis and Clark Trust.

Pamela Webster-Walsh, who purchased the heirloom property last year with sister Laura Moore, said she expects to find many more documents as they move forward.

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"It is really exciting to find an actual document—in William Clark’s own hand!—that established his stop at the tavern in his 1817-1820 travel diary," Webster-Walsh said.

"We are still hopeful of finding that William and his first wife, Julia, stopped overnight on their way west in 1810. Digging deeper, we may find the tavern register that documents his stay and others who stopped or stayed at the Halfway House-Tyree Tavern in the 1800s."

Believed to have been established as a tavern in the very early 1800s, the hewn-timber structure is one of the oldest in the southern state.

Through the 1800s, it was a stagecoach stop for travelers crossing the Appalachian Mountains, and during the Civil War, it served as a headquarters for both northern and southern armies.

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and  led an expedition across the newly acquired western U.S. from 1804 until 1806. Afterward, Clark served as governor of the . From 1822 until his death in 1838, he served as .

The sisters are descendants of William Tyree, who established the tavern nearly halfway between Lewisburg and the Kanawha Salines at present-day Charleston. They purchased the property in 2022 and have engaged to guide the restoration and adaption as a museum.

Webster-Walsh says she and Moore are welcoming all possible information on the history of the tavern. Correspondence through email should be directed to walshpw116@gmail.com. A Facebook page has also been established at .

"In the short time we have been involved with this property, we have uncovered many links to our family history and met some wonderful and helpful people in the past year since acquiring the tavern," she said.

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