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About Ye Olde Trail Tavern and it's place in YS history


The oldest and original construction of Ye Olde Trail Tavern is of hand hewn logs in the rear portion of the building. Built by Elisha and son, William Mills in 1827 as a tavern, the cabin style structure was called Elisha's Tavern. It was the only structure in Yellow Springs on route 68 at that time. (as best we currently know)

Yellow Springs, once known as Forrest Village was originally Shawnee land.  It was claimed by the new United States of America after the defeat of the Shawnee in the furthest western fought battle of the Revolutionary War, the Battle of Pickaway.  The battle was fought on the lands of and surrounding what is now, Gen. George Rogers Clark Park near Springfield.  After the war this part of Ohio became the Virginia Militia District and The Symmes Purchase* under Gen. George Washington.  After the war the higher ranked officers were able to buy parcels of land from the Government. Gen.  Whiteman and Lewis Davis bought a large portion of land  in the Yellow Springs area, of which the Mills family bought roughly 200 acres that became the plotted and registered by William Mills in 1853 as 'Yellow Springs' . 

The area now known as Glen Helen began as a resort area, Lewis Davis built the very first tavern and was granted the first liquor licence in the area in 1805.  It was added on to by Elisha and William Mills who bought it from Davis in the 1820's and added many modern luxuries at that time bringing it up to a resort style destination. Elisha sold it to William and later William Mills sold it to William Neff of Cincinnati, a wealthy pork processor. He turned the small luxury hotel into a summer home for his guests and family eventually building it into a 200+ room palatial resort. It was outfitted with a state of the art kitchen, gas lighting, steam heat,  six bowling allies, billiard tables, 125 stables with Kentucky horses, a dairy, laundry, orchards, a lake for boating and its own fire department!  It was advertised to wealthy travelers on the eastern seaboard as a healing 'water cure'. Visitors flocked from far and wide to take in the healing waters of the Yellow Spring. Anemia was a common ailment at this time because of the lack of refrigeration red meat wasn't a staple in the diet at this time aand it is likely that the iron rich waters helped anemic visitors feel more energetic and lively.  

On Feb 6th 1819 Franz Martin Hafner was born in Kehl, Baden Baden Germany to Ludwig and Dorothea (Daeschner) Hafner into a family of 10 brothers and sisters. Lugwig fought as a officer under Napoleon through the Napoleonic wars and during the famous March to Moscow in 1812. Franz lost a brother in the June Rebellion riots of Paris in 1832 on the family's way to come to America. In 1832 the Hafner family arrived in Baltimore Maryland where Franz apprenticed as a baker. 

On May 11th 1842  Franz Martin Hafner came to the Neff House Summer Resort via Cincinnati.  When Mr. Neff brought him to the resort he felt more at home being the gardener and head groundskeeper instead of being the baker of which he originally intended. He spent his happiest years caring for the grounds, planting trees and landscaping at the Neff Resort.

On August 19th 1843 Franz married Mary Ann Sroufe, , a Yellow Springs native. In 1847 the Hafners bought lot number 19 with the log tavern still left on it from William Mills, as well as lots 17,18, 20,21,30,31,& 32. Lots 17 & 18 are now Nipper's Corner and King's Yard-he built the building on lot 18 that now houses Bonadies Glass and Jennifer's touch jewelry, at the time built it was known as 'The Hafner business building and was quite noteworthy.  Lot 21 is now Tom's market which Franz sold in the 1860's to pay for a doctor's bill. Lot 20 is known as the King house that Franz later built as their family home which now hosts stores Asanda and Wildflower. Lots 31 & 32 are the parking lots behind the King's yard and 30 is now a private home. The lots 31 & 32 had stables and wooden structures upon them in the late 1800's. And in the mid 1800's when Franz was a baker he had his brick and clay ovens in what we now know as the King's Yard.

In 1847 after Hafner purchased the lands from Mills, he began moving the home he and Mary Ann had lived in on the Neff property with oxen and logs, as was common at that time . After building a limestone rock cellar foundation on lot 19 they moved the home to meet the log tavern on the east/front of the building. After they situated the two buildings together, they cut through, which is why the awkward step down to go to the original cabin and the odd stairs to go up to the old bathrooms (pre 2000's). 

Franz and Mary Ann birthed four and raised five children (William Mills, Frank "Fred", Mary Ellen, and Charles) in YS in the tavern and the King house and adopted and raised niece Mary Cliffford Sroufe in 1862 after Mary Ann's brother Francis and his wife Mary Tytor were killed in an accident. 

Franz became a baker for the Y.S community and the Antioch College in 1852.  He and his sons also became coal and brick purveyors, supplying the public school with free coal for heat every winter. Franz was a proud and active member of the Yellow Springs community, serving on the Village Council for thirty years, was an active and esteemed member of the community and was an active member of the Y.S. Methodist congregation. Franz passed peacefully after a brief illness in the brick King house about 7:00 pm on New Year's Day 1894. Mary Ann, a prominent woman of the community lived at the King house and was an active member of Yellow Springs and the Methodist congregation until her passing January 2. 1897. She and Franz willed all property, furniture, wood, coal, brick and money to Charles, Mary Ellen, William, Frank and Frank's eldest daughter Lydia Myrtle Hafner.  Both Franz and Mary Ann are buried in Glen Forest Cemetery in Yellow Springs.

       The Trail Tavern building was a restaurant for as long as we can determine in between Franz and Mary Ann's death and now. The building and its surrounding lots were willed to the Hafner children and the eldest grand daughter (Frank and his wife  Josephine's daughter) Lydia Myrtle King (why the King house and yard are known as such). While they all kept the land and buildings in their possession none of them lived in or ran a business out of any of the buildings much past Frank and Mary Ann's deaths. Myrtle willed the properties to her son's Sydney and Kenneth. Sydney and Kenneth sold the properties as a whole after 1955 before they and their mother's death in the 50's. While the properties have only had a few owners since then the Ye Olde Trail Tavern business has been sold several times until 1980 when Mr.Hart bought it. His daughter bought it from him in 1986 and she sold the business and building to the present owners. 

 William Mills Hafner, named after the William Mills of Yellow Springs fame was born in May of 1844, he joined the Union Army in May of 1862 serving in the A company of the 154th regiment as a Private was discharged in Sept. of 1862, reenlisted 5/64 and re-discharged 9/64. In August of 1873 William married Hattie Birch from New York, in 1874 they had a daughter, Nettie. Some time between '74 and '80 Hattie's parents and family moved to Fawn River MI. Hattie and Nettie followed them and never returned. In 1884 William graduated from Cincinnati College of Medicine and Surgery. He returned to Yellow Springs and married Rebecca Alma Shook. They were married November 18, 1896 when she was 30 and he was 52. They lived in a small brick home on Dayton St. for the rest of their lives. William practiced as a general practitioner physician locally and Rebecca kept home. William died November 18, 1923, he was 79 and was interred at Glen Forest Cemetery. Rebecca died at home on June 29, 1940 when she was 74. He was laid to rest next to William in Glen Forest.

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