In the late 1700s a man by the name of John Austine McKinney came to America from Coleraine, Ireland after graduating from the University of Edinburgh. With a Bible and a copy of Horace in his pocket, he stepped aboard a ship in sight of a better life. When he reached the New England shore, McKinney decided the climate was too harsh for him and with the advice of some locals, decided to head south.
He began traveling the “Wilderness Road” headed for warmer weather. Months later, McKinney stopped in a new small town called Rogersville. It was in Rogersville where his horse finally gave out and died. Since McKinney had been on the road so long, he had no money. He used his last bank note to burry his horse and then decided to settle. Using his degree from the University of Edinburgh, McKinney became a lawyer and was quickly known as a businessman around town.
Getting into some friendly competition with the town’s founder, Joseph Rogers, McKinney decided to build a large, brick inn directly on the Great Stage Road. At this time, Rogers’ was the only inn and tavern in town. McKinney began construction in 1823. The building was to be a massive three story federal style building that would not only be a true tavern, but would also double as an inn. McKinney’s vision was to own the most successful inn and tavern in town. He dressed the building with many fireplaces and an impressive balcony over the main door.
McKinney no sooner than finished his inn before he had distinguished guests booked. Being such stiff competitors, Rogers did not like that McKinney had a bigger, classier establishment and began petitioning for important and famous guests to stay in his tavern. Almost all declined, only staying in McKinney’s- the two main reasons were the balcony and tavern. Every guest loved visiting the tavern not only for its delicious food and good brews, but guests liked the layout and atmosphere.
Centuries later, McKinney’s vision still exists and the McKinney Tavern, located in the Hale Springs Inn, is still the most successful tavern in Rogersville. Still offering the unique atmosphere, the menu has changed a bit. Thanks to locals, McKinney’s Restaurant and Tavern has been successful for hundreds of years, and will most likely remain a favorite of locals and visitors for years to come.