Family Stories

Thomas West – First Tavern in Paris – Bourbon County

I came upon an interesting old paper which was included in the wills of Bourbon County, listed as Loose Papers, 1786-1795.  Although it reads similar to a marriage bond, it is a license to keep an ordinary.  Thomas West, originally from Maryland, was given this license January 19, 1790.  His tavern was called West’s Tavern, and was the first in Hopewell. 

Hopewell was the name of the hometown of New Jersey resident Lawrence Protzman who came to the area about 1786.  Joseph Houston had settled a station there in 1776.  Not realizing it was land already owned, Houston relocated and Protzman purchased the land from the rightful owners in 1786.  It was later renamed Paris, after the French capital, to honor French assistance during the war.

Know all men by these presents that we, Thomas West and James Morin, of Bourbon County, are held and firmly bound unto the Treasurer of the State of Virginia and his successors in the sum of fifty pounds current money, to the which payment well and truly to be made to the said Treasurer or his successors.  We bind ourselves, and each of our heirs, executors and administrators, jointly, severally and firmly by these presents, sealed with our seals and dated this 19 day of January 1790.

The condition of the above obligation is such that whereas the above bound Thomas West hath this day obtained license to keep an ordinary at his house in Hopewell town, Bourbon County.  If therefore the said Thomas West do constantly find and provide in his said ordinary good wholesome and cleanly lodging and diet for travelers, stablage and provider for horses as the season may require and shall not suffer any unlawful gaming in his said house, nor suffer any person to drink more than necessary on the Sabbath day, for and during the term of a whole year, then this obligation to be void, otherwise to remain in full force and virtue.

Thomas West, James Morin

Signed and sealed in presence of Peter Hepperson

Collins History tells us that it was Thomas West who ‘conducted the first “public house” (tavern) in Paris and was a central figure in the early life of Hopewell.  This tavern was built of logs and stood where Shire’s Jewelry Store is now located.  It was first known simply as West’s Tavern, but in later years when it was clapboarded and washed over with a red-wash, it was referred to as “West’s Red Tavern,” and the sign of the “Square and Compass” was displayed above the entrance.  Thomas West was, no doubt, of Maryland, as he was guardian to Margaret, daughter of John and Rachel (Perry) West, who have been identified with that state.  In 1796 he built the first brick house in Paris where Gibson’s Garage no stands.  He probably died in Missouri.  His widow, Elizabeth West, died January 9, 1847, aged 86 years.  She was buried in Paris Cemetery.’

And from the Lexington newspaper –

Lexington Herald-Leader, Fayette County, Kentucky

June 30, 1938

The first tavern in Paris was built of logs and stood on the site of the present Shire and Fithian store.  It was operated by an enterprising citizen of that day, Thomas West, who several years later succeeded in erecting a brick building in the town.  West’s tavern later became a saloon, known as “Upper Lick,” which was a gathering place for the male population for miles about.  For the convenience of patrons, an open-air fighting arena was situated adjacent to the “Upper Lick,” where one and all might settle any disputes which changed to arise.

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