Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Today in 1777:

The Keeler Tavern in Ridgefield, Connecticut is far from the only tavern to have played a major role in the war. In fact, there are so many that this one didn’t even make it into the book, America Walks into a Bar. But it serves as a clear symbol of the role taverns and their keepers played in the battle for Independence.

The tavern once bore the image of mad King George III on its sign, but Thomas Keeler painted over the royal likeness and changed his logo to a simple horseman when he became stirred by the Revolutionary fervor and took sides with the rebels. The tavern picked up a new name during the war, when it became known as “Cannonball House,” for the…well, cannonball that the British soldiers fired at the tavern during the battle of Ridgefield (April 27 1777).

As you can see, the cannonball got stuck in its timber. The Brits attacked on the grounds that they had heard its basement was used to store rebel munitions. Keeler's patriotic role in the war netted him the position of town post-master, a common double duty for taverns back in the day.

The Keeler Tavern is now a museum. For more about the American bar and its role in American history, America Walks into a Bar is now available for pre-order through and Indigo.