Mistress Kimball’s Inn

Frederick, Maryland image from the Son of the South website

YE ANCIENT INN.

When Mistress Kimball kept the inn on Patrick street, due west,
In all the country side about it was the first and best.
Before her stoop each day there paused the coaches, drawn by four,
That up the dusty highway came with rattle and with roar.
While passengers, with beaming smiles, were happy to alight
And test the good dame’s famed cuisine or spend the winter night.

Full many a curtsy greeted them, the foaming steeds were ta’en
To sip the water from the trough, and fresh, with  curried main,
Pranced back to take the Westward way, while far the music rang
Of gay postilions as some snatch of airy song they sang.
It was a good y hostelry, and there full many a time
The statesmen of the old regime held forth in courtly prime.

With kerchief folded o’er her breast, and cap of glossy white,
She gave the mark of matron grace, attentive and polite.
Her table’s snowy linen shone, the glass was polished clear,
And on her ancient willow ware she doted fond and dear.
The punch bowl held its ample state, and there the toddy drew
Its sparkling comfort fit to warm the weary travellers through.

There came the Colonel Washington, to take h’s meals and rest;
And then at Mistress Kimball’s inn, on Patrick Street due West,
The grace of all her goodly skill came forth on such a day
To set her cheery house in trim with adequate display.
Dame Barbara’s borrowed service helped to set the table forth,
And there, my lords, the gentlemen, proclaimed her trusty worth.

Her heart with fluttering pride best loud’ her house was honored true,
And to and fro among her guests the gentle lady flew.
The roast, the baked potatoes brown, the turkey stuffed with spice,
The cookies and the crullers baked with art both fine and nice,
The punch in which Jamaica’s gem of rich distilling dwelt,
Not only flavored to the taste, but so it seemed and smelt.

Ah, happy days that came and went and now she’ll come no more,
When footsteps of the Nation’s great trod o’er her sanded floor,
When laud the hoofs of prancing steeds down dusty highways rang,
The couriers sped, the stage coach came, with rumble and with clang,
To pause for dinner or for rest, or changing mail and steeds,
In times when all the country grew to greatness and great deeds.

Ah, happy days, when inns were kept and statesmen rode about
In rambling vehicles that rolled along the unsoiled route.
When Franklin, with his beaming eyes, and Washington, rode up
To test the service, dine and rest and drink a jocund cup.
When of all inns the favorite, first, the goodliest and the best
Was kept by Mistress Kimball, fair, on Patrick street due West.

— The Bentztown Bard.

The News (Frederick, Maryland) Oct 30, 1897

Image from The Historical Marker Database

From the City of Frederick website (PDF link):

In 1806 the Thomas Jefferson administration began the construction of a federal highway that would lead to the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase lands comprising most of the central portion of the United States. The “National Road” began in Cumberland, Maryland and led to Wheeling in Virginia (West Virginia) and later on to Terre Haute, Indiana. The main wagon road from Baltimore to Cumberland, a collection of privately owned and operated turnpike segments, was eventually upgraded and consolidated to become part of the National Road.

Frederick-Town’s location and importance as a regional center assured its place along the “National Road.” Actually a section of the Frederick and Baltimore Turnpike, a privately financed toll road, part of the series of routes connecting to the National Road at Cumberland, the road passed through the center of Frederick-Town along Patrick Street. Chartered in 1805, the Frederick and Baltimore Turnpike was completed by 1808….

The National Road became one of the most heavily traveled east-west routes in America with traffic passing all hours of the day and night. Stage coaches, freight wagons, herds of swine, geese and cattle headed to market, plus individual traffic passed along the pike. Taverns, inns and hotels were an important part of the travel-generated economy. Also important were blacksmith shops, wagon shops, and leather and harness shops.

Indeed, Frederick-Town, already known for its inns and taverns, developed a number of hotel establishments that would define the character of Patrick Street for decades. Mrs. Kimball’s tavern, located on the corner of Patrick and Court (Public) Street had probably been in operation for decades when Anne Royall visited in 1828, calling it “the oldest and best stand in Maryland….”47 That same year, Joseph Talbott, already established as a Frederick innkeeper, purchased Mrs. Kimball’s tavern, changing the name to Talbott’s Hotel. The hotel was best known as the City Hotel, under which name it continued to operate as late as the 1897 Sanborn Insurance Co. map and was eventually replaced by the Francis Scott Key Hotel in the twentieth century.

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