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Plaque marks spot where Washington had breakfast

April 03, 2002|BY RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Apparently he was in Greencastle, too.

According to a new plaque on the outside wall of the Greencastle Laundry at 8 S. Carlisle St., the ubiquitous Father of Our Country stopped by for breakfast in what in 1794 was a tavern.

George Washington was on his way to the western Pennsylvania counties to quell the Whiskey Rebellion.

Robert Luger, owner of the laundry, said Washington also gave a speech on the corner in front of what today is Hunan Gardens, a Chinese restaurant.

The plaque was bought by the Greencastle Antrim Loyal Daughters, a group claiming a membership of more than 400. The members meet every three years during Greencastle's triennial Old Home Week celebration. They last met Aug. 7, 2001.

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A press release written by Jean K. Zimmerman, historian for the Loyal Daughters, said the club's goal is to "advance the welfare of Greencastle, and to mold the past with the present."

It uses the money from members' dues, $3 every three years, plus donations, for things like the plaque. This year the members also bought lights for the new sign at the Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library.

Over the years the Loyal Daughters paid for other plaques, lights on the town clock, trees and books for the library.

The idea for the plaque came from Betty Fisher's daughter. Fisher is secretary of the Loyal Daughters.

"My daughter was here for Old Home Week in 2001. She was sitting in front of this building when someone told her that it was historic," Fisher said.

The club members called Ted Alexander, a local historian, to research the building.

Alexander said the story about Washington's visit is legitimate.

"He was on his way down from the barracks in Carlisle (Pa.), where the military units he used in the Whiskey Rebellion were stationed," Alexander said. "He stopped in Chambersburg (Pa.) on his way to Greencastle."

Alexander said Washington also visited Dr. Robert Johnson of Greencastle, a comrade in arms during the Revolutionary War. Johnson's house still stands outside Greencastle, Alexander said.

Washington headed west to Bedford, Pa., when he left Greencastle," he said.

The Whiskey Rebellion erupted in 1791 when farmers in the western counties of Pennsylvania rebelled against excise taxes that the federal government levied on their whiskey-making operations.

The new tariff eliminated their profits from the whiskey, an important cash crop. The farmers rebelled by attacking the federal excise agents, according to a Web site at www.earlyamerican.com.

Washington led the 13,000 troops that he had mobilized against the farmers, the Web site said.

Luger bought the building nine years ago. He has an old post card showing its log construction, which has long since been covered over.

Wording on the plaque encourages viewers to look through a hole in the side of the building to see evidence of the log construction.

The plaque reads in part, "McCULLOUGH'S TAVERN ... here on October 12, 1794 President George Washington is said to have taken breakfast while passing though the area to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion. This tavern was owned by Robert McCullough and was also known as the Mansion House."

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