From May 1807 and until his death in 1861, William Gooding, Jr. maintained a license from the Fairfax County Court to operate an ordinary – a place of hospitality and lodging. The tavern was in his house on land owned by Giles Fitzhugh (Parcel 1.1.3) that Gooding later bought in 1814.1
Little River Turnpike
The tavern was located on Little River Turnpike near the 10-mile marker and was referred to in deeds of that era as the “ten mile house.” The site is across Little River Turnpike from today’s Annandale Campus of Northern Virginia Community College.
- Gooding’s Tavern historical marker (Fairfax County)
The turnpike was in an early stage of construction with the first 10 miles having just been completed and opened to traffic in 1806 from Alexandria virtually to Gooding’s doorstep.2 The tavern served turnpike travelers and was a gathering place for local patrons.
In 1835 Gooding expanded the business, adding a blacksmith shop across the road on additional land he had bought in 1821.4
Dying four months before the start of the Civil War, Gooding willed to his daughters Jane Coyle and Maria Howard equal shares of the property that included the tavern and the stables and other buildings across the road. Maria inherited the tavern building itself and Jane’s house was next door on the east side of the tavern. Jane’s husband James Coyle operated the tavern for a time during the war.5
The tavern and stables were a frequent watering and resting stop on the turnpike for drovers and sutlers, and several times the site of hostilities. Two actions are especially notable: the killing of James Coyle and the wounding of Confederate partisan ranger Major John S. Mosby.
Tavern Keeper James Coyle Killed
On August 6, 1863 James Coyle was shot and killed in the Coyle house by Union cavalry. Whether the killing was justified or the tragic result of mistaken identity is unclear. It’s also unclear whether James supported the Union or Confederate cause. The Alexandria Gazette of August 10, 1863 printed this account of the incident:
THE KILLING OF MR COYLE — The following is the testimony of Mrs. Coyle in reference ot the killing of her husband, Mr. Jas. Coyle by some cavalrymen, last Thursday evening, taken before Col. D.F. Dulany and Mr. James Purdy:
Mrs. Coyle testified: “On Thursday evening last, about five o’clock p.m., while a number of sutlers were passing my residence, they were attacked by a party of Guerillas, near a mile above my house, who took their teams and goods; there was frequent firing for about half an hour; shortly after the Federal cavalry arrived and recaptured the sutlers and goods; Mr. Coyle was in the house and had closed the door; shortly after, the Cavalry demanded the door to be opened, and as he was in the act of opening the door he (Mr. C.) was fired upon; he walked into his room near the passage door, and falling on his bed exclaimed, I am a dead man. Immediately afterwards two soldiers rushed in and beat him on the head and face with their pistols, and then dragged him into the road in front of the house, beating him severely and calling him a d-md s-n of a b—h, I’ll let you know how to rob sutlers’ wagons, &c. I exclaimed this is my husband. They replied I don’t care who the devil’s husband it is; I was knocked down by one of the men, and they dragged my husband’s body over me. There had been no Guerillas in the house before or after the transaction. My house was searched and no weapons or men found. One of the soldiers took my husband’s watch from his neck and brutally dragged his clerk, Mr. John McLouchlin from him, who he had requested to pray for him.
A short time later in a skirmish at the tavern on August 24, 1863 between Mosby’s Rangers and the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry, Major John C. Mosby himself was severely wounded. Reports place some of the Union troops firing from inside the tavern where they had taken cover. Although he was wounded, Mosby’s forces won a clear victory, as is evident from his official report of the action:6
On the morning of August 24, with about 30 men, I reached a point (Annandale) immediately on the enemy’s line of communication. Leaving the whole command, except 3 men who accompanied me, in the woods concealed, I proceeded on a reconnaissance along the railroad to ascertain if there were any bridges unguarded. I discovered there were three. I returned to the command just as a drove of horses, with a cavalry escort of about 50 men, was passing. These I determined to attack and to await until night to burn the bridges. I ordered Lieutenant Turner to take one-half of the men and charge them in front, while with the remainder I attacked their rear.
In the meantime the enemy had been joined by another party, making their number about 63. When I overtook them they had dismounted at Gooding’s Tavern to water their horses. My men went at them with a yell that terrified the Yankees and scattered them in all directions. A few taking shelter under coffer of the houses opened fire upon us. They were soon silenced, however.
At the very moment when I had succeeded in routing them I was compelled to retire from the fight, having been shot through the side and thigh. My men, not understanding it, followed me, which gave time to the Yankees to escape to the woods. But for this accident the whole party would have been captured. As soon as I perceived this I ordered the men to go back, which a portion of them did just as Lieutenant Turner, who had met and routed another force above, came gallantry charging up.
Over 100 horses fell into our possession, though a good many were lost in bringing them out at night; also 12 prisoners, arms, &c. I learn that 6 of the enemy were killed… my loss was 2 killed and 3 wounded…
Following the war, Gooding’s Tavern continued operations under William Gooding, Jr.’s son William H. Gooding and later under Maria Howard’s family. The tavern building was destroyed by fire in 1887.
- No contract or other record has been found that explains when and the arrangement under which Gooding gained use of the property before he bought it in 1814. ↩
- Kurt P. Schweigert, “West End: Prepared For Norfolk Southern Corporation (Carlyle Project),” 1996, 5-8, (available online: http://alexandriava.gov/uploadedFiles/historic/info/archaeology/ARSiteReportWestEnd.pdf). ↩
- John Gooding’s tavern was in West End, a village adjacent to Alexandria that Alexandria annexed in 1915. The tavern was on Lot B on the north side of the road just east of the intersection of Duke St. and Diagonal Rd. (See Schweigert, “West End…”, page 65). ↩
- Henry Taylor v. Mordecai C Fitzhugh, Index Number 1843-002, original Case Number CFF93 M, image 7, Virginia Memory: Chancery Records Index. In his deposition concerning a pair of wheels left at his house, Gooding stated, “…I think I commenced my shop in 1835.” ↩
- Kathe Gunther recently resolved the question of the tavern’s exact location in her research, discovering an advertisement for sale of Jane Coyle’s property in the Alexandria Gazette newspaper of August 8, 1887 (accessed via the Library of Virginia). Coyle’s house is identified as “…on the Little River turnpike road, adjoining the Old Tavern lot and just east of the same…” William Gooding, Jr.’s will, in dividing the tavern lot between daughters Maria Howard and Jane Coyle, did not identify which daughter’s bequest included the house in which the tavern operated. This and the facts that Jane Coyle’s husband operated the tavern for a time and it was sometimes called Coyle’s tavern implied that the Coyle house was the tavern. ↩
- The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, SERIES: I VOLUME: XXIX CAMPAIGN: Bristoe, Mine Run, SERIAL: 048, PAGE: 0080, eHistory @ The Ohio State University, http://ehistory.osu.edu/osu/default.cfm (accessed July 20, 2013). ↩