Tag Archives: Wayside Inn

The Quiet, Concientious David Howe

David Howe (1674-1759)

Red Horse Inn

Proprietors of the How family tavern–How’s Tavern/ Red Horse Inn/Wayside Inn. Photo shared on Ancestry.com

As I amass data and legends and documents about these Howes, I start to think of them as having specific personalities, even though there is no direct historic information.

For instance, although his son Ezekiel was a born politician–outgoing and energetic, and his father Samuel a wheeler-dealer (the Donald Trump of colonial Sudbury),  I picture David as a serious, religious man who prefers to have an orderly life. [UPDATE: When I wrote this, the world did not know Donald Trump in the same way they do since his run for the Republican nomination for President.  I regret comparing Samuel to Donald. While Samuel had activities–development, building, money-making, political–in common, he certainly did not share a similar value system.] He would probably have been strict with his children and conducted his life with one eye on the afterlife, being industrious, charitable and faithful.

Though I am perfectly aware that it is unscientific, and against the principles of any serious historian, I just can’t help guessing.

In talking about David, I am continuing my journey back through history. Once I get to David’s grandfather John Howe, we will have all of the Howe family from the first to arrive in America to my 5 x great-grand uncle Ezekiel and his brother my 5 x great- grandfather Israel. And they will be in order, so you can see the development of the tavern-keeping Howe family for 200 years from the very early 17th century until nearly the end of the 18th century.

David was the sixth child of Samuel and Martha (Bent) How. He had one younger sister and gained six half-siblings when Samuel married his second wife, Sarah Clapp. For David, a large family seemed the norm.

When he married Hepzibah Death in December 1700, he took his vows seriously and planned to have a large family.  His father deeded 130 acres on the west side of Sudbury over to David–a handsome piece with plenty of room for a house, fields, and a mill.

With the help of his father, David built the house that became a tavern and today stands as part of Longfellow’s Wayside Inn.  Although there was a strong family tradition of tavern keeping, he did not rush into the tavern business. His father, Samuel, was a tavern keeper, the older Howe tavern was a few miles east of the land David was given. And David’s grandfather, John had kept a tavern in Marlborough as had a couple of other relatives.

Old Red Horse Tavern

Old etching of Red Horse Tavern/ Wayside Inn, used with permission of Longfellow’s Wayside Inn archives. It is speculated that the original house occupied the area that is the front door and the two windows to the right in this picture, and in the present inn.

When he first got the land, David had his hands full clearing land for his new house, and then for fields and pasture.  He also needed to think about the use of the fast-running creek that ran through his property.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts was being plagued by battles of the French and Indian War, which dragged on from 1689 to 1763. Their was a brief peace in 1713, and perhaps that encouraged David to think about what peace would mean regarding traffic along the Boston Post Road, and how convenient a location his land would be for a tavern.

Since 1707, citizens in this western part of Sudbury had been interested in establishing a new meeting house that would be more convenient to them than the present one on the east side of Sudbury across the Sudbury River. This was important because the people were required by law to attend religious services on Sunday and listen to a sermon by a minister paid by the town.

Not only that, but generally a tavern was located near the meeting house. Worshipers needed a place to relax, get something to eat and drink after their travel from home and, in the winter, warm up from the usually unheated meeting houses. So if the permission was given for a new meeting house, a tavern would be a necessity. David’s signature joined others on the petitions. However the west side meeting house was not authorized until 1722.

At any rate, he applied for and received a license to “keep a hous of entertainment.” He set to work, probably with his father Samuel’s help (Samuel was a carpenter) and built an extension on his home. [UPDATE: Due to the comment of an astute reader –below– I need to correct this assertion that Samuel might have helped.  The license was granted in 1714 and Samuel died in 1713, so he could not have helped with remodeling in 1714. Although there are some tales that David’s house served as a resting place for travelers before it received a license, that tale has been discounted by historians.] The family would live in this new section, while travelers would eat and drink on the main floor–what is now the front Parlor–and sleep on the floor above, that is still a bedroom in Longfellow’s Wayside Inn.

Sudbury Massachusetts

Longfellow’s Wayside Inn Bar in Sudbury MA. The beam across the ceiling may be original from David and Hepzibah’s orginal home, circa 1702. Photo in public domain from Wikimedia.

By 1720, Hepzibah had presented her husband with four sons and three daughters, including my 5x great grandfather Israel and the youngest  Ezekiel (1720). [For more on the children, you can read my article on Hepzibah, David’s wife.]

The brief peace between the English and the French did not last, and in 1724 there was an Indian raid on a farm near Sudbury and Rutland.  The following year, 1725, David’s brother Daniel, a member of the militia, marched off to fight, but was sent home because he was lame.

Around 1727, David, now both a farmer and a tavern keeper, added one more title–miller.  He built a mill on the stream that ran through his property.  The picturesque mill that shows up in illustrations of the present inn was imported by the Ford Foundation. It is not the original David How mill.

[insert map]

As if fighting the Indians did not keep them busy enough, townspeople were battling each other as well.  All the small towns of Massachusetts seem to be in constant turmoil during the 17th and early 18th centuries about town boundaries–spawning the familiar New England clusters–TownName Central, North TownName, South TownName, East TownName, etc.

According to A History of Longfellow’s Wayside Inn,

By 1740,  David had led another petition to the court for a new town to be carved out in the How Tavern area. This was never approved.

Perhaps as a consolation prize, in 1741 David How was elected as a Selectman of Sudbury.  This was a period when selectmen were charged with regulating taverns and more and more tavern keepers were seeking election so that they could keep the regulations from becoming onerous. However, since David was 67 years old, I cannot believe that he was lusting after political power.  I believe the election was more of a show of respect for an honored elder of the community.

Two years later–1743–David’s youngest son, Ezekiel married Bathsheba Stone and they moved in to How’s Tavern.  This triggered another enlargement of the building.  But in 1744, David decided to formally turn over the building, land and business to Ezekiel, although David’s name is on the license through 1747. David How Jr. took over operation of the mill.

David lived a long life, dying at the age of 85 (1759) and no doubt continued to advise Ezekiel, and perhaps step in when his son was off on military duty.  As I mentioned in the article on Hepzibah, she continued to live with her son and daughter in law until her death ten years after David.

David’s life record reflects a concentration on the fundamentals. He was not a man to be distracted by military service or tempted to move to a new community.  He lived in Sudbury all his life and working at plain non-showy work–whether that meant clearing land, farming, milling or running a tavern.

I believe the Biblical names of his children reflect his deep religiosity.  For example, instead of naming his first born son after himself, he named him for a son of the Biblical King David–Eliphalet.  That and his lack of leadership roles in the community lead me to believe that David was modest and humble. Altogether, a fine Puritan son.


  • My maternal grandmother, Vera Stout (Anderson), was the daughter of
  • Hattie Morgan (Stout), the daughter of
  • Mary Bassett (Morgan),the daughter of
  • Elizabeth Stone (Bassett) the daughter of
  • Elizabeth How (Stone), the daughter of
  • Israel How,the son of
  • David How.

Research notes

  • In Public Houses: Drink and the Revolution of Authority in Colonial Massachusetts by David W. Conroy, (1995)
  • As Ancient Is This Hostelry: The Story of the Wayside Inn, by Curtis F. Garfield and Alison R. Ridley(1988)
  • A History of Longfellow’s Wayside Inn by Brian E. Plumb (2011)
  • Howe Genealogies by Daniel Wait Howe (1929), Massachusetts Historical and Genealogical Society. This is said to be the best of the several genealogies of the family. Although I do not have a copy of the entire book, portions of it are available on the Internet.
  • Middlesex County records found on Ancestry.com. Birth, death and marriage.
  • Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Worcester County Massachusetts Vol. 1, ed by Ellery Bicknell Crane (1907) Available as a Google Books e-book.
  • FindaGrave.com
  • I also have had assistance from the archivist and a historian at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn

A Flip: Hot Buttered Rum at a Colonial Tavern

Christmas in August

Hot Butter Rum

Holiday Hot Buttered Rum. Photo from Flickr with Creative Commons License.

I was amazed to learn that I had unwittingly served one of my inn-keeping ancestor’s favorite tavern drinks, Flip,.  Was I channeling the Howes when I cooked up a batch of hot buttered rum at holiday parties?

Before I share my crock pot recipe for hot buttered rum, which was called Flip in the taverns of my ancestors, let’s take a look at the place of taverns (called “ordinaries” in the early years) in 17th and 18th century America. It turns out they served up politics as well as tankards of ale and rum!

Citizens had very contradictory thoughts about taverns from the time of the Pilgrims right up into the end of the 18th century.  The Puritans preached abstinence and sobriety, but did not trust water to drink, so they consumed large amounts of ale.

The concern with the evils of drink led to many laws and regulations governing taverns, in an attempt to protect citizens from drunkenness.

And yet, they were so important to life in the colonies that towns could be fined for not providing a tavern.  Locating taverns in convenient places and making them accessible to all citizens dominated the agenda at many a governmental meeting. Militia drilling grounds generally were set aside near a tavern, and drinks after military drills were part of life. Since many meeting houses were not heated, court and legislative sessions would retreat to warm taverns in the winter.

Who went to taverns? Not everyone by a long shot.  For one thing, women were not expected to spend time in taverns. For another, regulations of who was allowed were strict.   Here’s an example from the license of Thomas How, a member of the family from Marlborough who owned the Black Horse tavern.

“[The proprietor] shall not suffer or have any playing at cards, dice, tally, bowls, nine pins, billiards or other unlawful games in his said house or yard, or gardens, not shall suffer to remain in his house any person or persons, not being his own family, on Saturday night after dark, or on the Sabbath days, or during the time of God’s Public Worship…nor shall sell any wine to Indians, or negroes, nor suffer any children or servant or other person to remain in his house, tippling or drinking after nine o’clock in the night…nor willingly or knowingly harbor in his house, barn, stable, or elsewhere any rogues, vagabonds, thieves, sturdy beggars, masterless men or women or other notorious offenders whatsover…”

Well that doesn’t exactly sound like the tavern was a fun place to hang out, does it?

Town selectmen were responsible for regulating the taverns, and when the restrictions began to chafe, tavern owners ran for office. Eventually, 20%  and more of the colonies’ representatives to legislative bodies were chosen from owners of taverns.

Their place of business made a perfect political base. Everyone knew them and they were in rumor central as people passed through with news of the day, so they were very well informed of events and could easily see how the winds of public opinion were blowing. And of course their self interest was served by being a selectman, responsible for regulating themselves.

Some tavern owners supplemented their election chances by buying free drinks for patrons. Others were content with the common practice of running a tab for townspeople. In either case, many voters would be indebted to them.

The Howe family of tavern keepers took full advantage of their position in the center of community affairs to get elected as selectmen and other leadership roles.

  • Pioneer John How, one of the chosen leaders and first settler of Marlborough in 1640, started the Black Horse tavern in 1661and his name continues to turn up in important town decisions.
  • John’s son Samuel, the first in the long line of Sudbury tavern keepers, had his finger in many civic pies.  He worked as a carpenter and glazier, winning contracts from the town and giving his services to those who needed them.  In 1691 he was first elected as selectman, and in 1692 was chosen by his fellow politicians to open a needed tavern in Sudbury. He went on to hold many elected offices.
  • Samuel’s son David built  the building that would eventually  house the Red Horse Tavern that is now known as Longfellow’s Wayside Inn. The building was built by 1707 and in 1716, he opened the tavern. Like his father and grandfather, he served the community in several capacities and in 1740 was elected selectman. In addition to the tavern, he was a farmer and ran a lumber mill.
  • David’s son Ezekiel, perhaps the most activist of the line, took over the family tavern business in 1745, and continued the tradition of community service. I have written about his leadership in the Revolution and in the government of Sudbury.

And while they were ladling out everything from cider to imported French wine, the favorite of the customers was rum and spice hot drink they called Flip.

When I made hot buttered rum for guests at my Christmas or New Year’s parties, the crock pot did the real work.  While I was fixing trays of snacks or frosting cookies, the slow cooker simmered away and filled the house with a buttery, cinnamon-y aroma.

Pewter tankard for hot buttered rum

Pewter Tankard from mid 18th century. From Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery used with Creative Commons License.

If my father (Paul Kaser) were around, he would remind me that the REAL way to make hot buttered rum for your guests gathered around the fireplace, was one mug at a time. Put the rum and cider in a mug, add a pat of butter and spices and a spoonful of sugar. Then heat a poker in the roaring fire and when it gets red hot, plunge it into the mug to heat the drink. Insert a cinnamon stick to stir the drink. (This would probably work much better with the colonial pewter mug than with a delicate glass mug.)



Hot Buttered Rum or Flip

Serves 15-20
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 3 hours
Total time 3 hours, 5 minutes
Meal type Beverage
Misc Serve Hot


  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • dash salt
  • cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 quarts hot water or apple juice or cider
  • 2 cups rum


1. Mix all ingredients in crockpot and cook on low from 3-10 hours.
2. Ladle into mugs and add a stick of cinnamon to each.


Although these instructions are for cooking in a crock pot/slow cooker, it can be cooked on low heat on the stove top as well.

 Research Notes

As Ancient is This Hostelry: The Story of the Wayside Inn by Curtis F. Garfield and Alison R. Ridley (1988)

Public Houses: Drink and the Revolution of Authority in Colonial Massachusetts by David W. Conroy (1995)

Israel How, A Family Tree Footnote

Israel How(e) 1712-1748

Some ancestors yield complex and fascinating stories.  Some seem to be just a footnote in the family tree.  Such is the fate of my 5x great grandfather, Israel How. Unlike the other Israel I wrote about last week–Israel Stone, this Israel did not have an exciting life.

[NOTE: If the latest news I uncovered is correct, I owe Israel How an apology.  His life was anything but dull. According to As Ancient is This Hostelry: The Story of the Wayside Inn, Israel How was killed by Indians in a raid on Rutland, Massachusetts.  I am trying to verify that this was the cause of his death, and that the father of four children and his wife pregnant with their fifth, was indeed an Indian fighter. Stay Tuned.]

Israel was right in the middle of the seven children of David and Hepzibah (Death) How. He grew up in Sudbury, used to having strangers around, since his father David How ran a tavern/inn on a 300 acre piece of land along the busy post road to Boston. (Going west from Boston, Sudbury is the sixth stop along the northernmost Boston Post Road.)

Boston Post Road

Map of the various routes of the Boston Post Road, from book, Old Boston Post Road.

Young Israel would have seen stagecoaches stopping every day and people of the community would have gathered at How’s Tavern to pick up packages and town gossip.

You may have noticed in the birth and death dates above that Israel had a very short life. He did not marry Elizabeth Hubbard until 1740 when he was twenty-eight years old, and he died in 1748.

The Footnotes he contributes to my family tree:

*Son of David How, proprietor of the Wayside Inn (then How’s Tavern) and builder of the first grain mill in Sudbury.

**Brother of Ezekial How who managed the Inn (As the Red Horse Tavern) from 1744.

***Father of Elizabeth Howe (Stone) who my have been born at the Wayside Inn.

****One of the pioneers of Sudbury who moved to the new town of Rutland, MA.

Since all of their children were born in Rutland, he either moved to Rutland as a young man, or immediately after he was married. The latter is probable, since Elizabeth Hubbard was born in Marlborough, next door to Sudbury.

Courts approved the purchase of the land comprising Rutland in 1714, subject to the three men who were given deeds finding 62 families to settle there in the next few years.  Captain Samuel Stone (another of my ancestors) was one of the thee. He came from Sudbury originally, and drew many settlers from there, including Israel and his brother Eliphalet Howe and cousin Eliphalet Stone.

See the distance from Sudbury to Rutland on this Google Map.

He barely had any time to distinguish himself in his 36 years, however during his eight years of marriage, he fathered five children.

1741: Israel Howe Jr. was born

1743: Lucy Howe arrived, named for her mother’s sister.

1744: When my 4x great grandmother Elizabeth Howe was born she was named for her mother.

In the same year that Elizabeth was born, little Israel Howe died.

1746: Ruth Howe, named for  Israel’s sister Ruth How joined the family.

1748: Rebekah Howe, her maternal grandmother, and was born.

Three days after Rebekah was born, Israel died on June 23, 1748.  At this point, I do not have a clue as to how he died. Sudden illness? A farm accident?  Further exploration may turn up his death certificate, or I may learn more when I visit the Wayside Inn in Sudbury Massachusetts.

But for now, lacking a story, Israel remains only a footnote in family history.

How I am related

  •  Vera Marie (Badertscher) is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson (Kaser), the daughter of
  • Vera Stout (Anderson), the daughter of
  • Hattie Morgan (Stout), the daughter of
  • Mary Bassett (Morgan), the daughter of
  • Elizabeth Stone (Basset), the daughter of
  • Elizabeth Howe (Stone), the daughter of
  • Israel How

Research notes:

Scant mention of Israel How is made in the discussions of the Howes in the various sources I am using to trace this family, so I have depended on the bare facts of birth and death records recorded in Sudbury and Rutland Massachusetts which I find at Ancestry.com.

Information and map of Boston Post Road comes from Wikipedia. Click on the map to see the original image, which is in the public domain. Wikipedia’s article includes locations of existing milestones, and the way that modern highways follow the Post Road.