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This Changing World

The Columns of Will Ball

Logansport Press,


Washington Hall, Market Square


This ad, exactly as printed below, appeared in the Logansport Telegraph on June 7, 1835:


Washington Inn

The subscriber, having purchased the well known inn formerly kept by A. Chamberlain, and having re-organized the same for the accommodation of travelers, flatters himself, in consequence of having long experience in the business, to be able to give entire satisfaction to those who call.  The house will be kept in order and every attention paid to his guests.

Cyrus Vigus, Logansport, May 23, 1835

N.B.  The stage office for the Indianapolis and Logansport line is kept at the above establishment.  Persons being desirous to journey south will be pleased to call.

 Washington Hall stood on the southwest corner of 3rd and Market Streets or as Vigus or his predecessor Chamberlain, would have described the location, “on Bridge St. at the southeast corner of Market Place.” 

 Everyone has undoubtedly observed the extra width of Market Street between 2nd and 3rd, or Walnut and Bridge as the streets were originally named.  That extra width of a couple of rods was intended as a place for country people to park their wagons while they dickered with the townspeople for the sale of their produce they had brought to town for that purpose.

 Early newspapers frequently refer to the site as “Market Square” or the “Market Place”.

 A Chamberlain, usually known by his first name, Alexander, is generally awarded the honor of being the first permanent white settler in Logansport although he is not the first man to build a house in this community.  Edward McCartney, a trader from Ft. Wayne, brought a stock of goods here in 1824 and built a cabin on the north bank of the Wabash about a miles west of the mouth of the Eel River the same year, while Chamberlain came in 1826.  McCartney did not stay very long.

 Chamberlain’s house, on the south bank of the Wabash, was used as a tavern or inn; the first in this part of the country.  He sold the place to John Tipton in the spring of 1828 when Tipton moved the Indian Agency to the “Mouth of the Eel”.  That was the only name the place had to it.  Chamberlain went a half mile or so and built another cabin just like the one he had sold.

 In the meantime, others were coming to the new settlement to live.  Among them was a Scot named Gills McBean.  He came in 1827.  Inasmuch as he got his wife in Corydon, he had probably known Tipton, Chauncey Carter and the other early inhabitants of Logansport who had previously lived in the first capitol.

 McBean built a double hewed log house on the southwest corner of Bridge and Market which he used as an inn.  This house must have been erected at an early date, for the organization of the county specified that the five commissioners who were to fix the seat of justice of the new county were to meet at the house of Gillis McBean to discharge the duties assigned to them by law.  These five men were Henry Restine, Montgomery Co.; Erasmus Powell, Shelby Co.; Wm. Purdy, Sullivan Co.; Harris Tyner, Marion Co.; and Samuel McGeorge, Tippecanoe Co.

 The writer does not know when Chamberlain took over the McBean tavern.  McBean had purchased a tract of land in Clay Twp. in 1828 but evidently still continued to live in the tavern until after the meeting of the committed of commissioners who set Logansport as the county seat of Cass County.

 Data is not at hand, but we believe Vigus operated Washington Hall until the ‘40’s when Alexander Burnett secured possession and replaced it with the “old Burnett House”, a two story frame hotel that became famous during the hey-day of the Wabash & Erie Canal.  It was town down in 1885 and the “new Burnett House” erected a block west on the corner of Second Street.

Logansport Press, August 20, 1850

Transcribed by Christine Spencer, April, 2009

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