UNION HALL INN

 

This Johnstown landmark was built in 1798 by Vaumane Jean Baptiste de FonClaire. Originally called the FonClaire Inn, the tavern was a popular stop for travelers heading through the area. In 1824, E.R. Williams purchased the building and renamed it Union Hall Inn, which operated until the 1880s. At that point it was sold and turned into a private home.

 

Clarence DeWitt and his wife bought the building in the 1930s and turned it once again into a restaurant, keeping the Union Hall name. Throughout the 20th century, it had various owners but remained a restaurant popular with locals and visitors alike. It is currently owned by the Henck family and operates as a full restaurant and catering business.

 

Union Hall is surrounded by folklore and ghost stories, beginning with an early episode involving local Revolutionary War hero Nick Stoner and several Native Americans. Upon hearing one of the native patrons boast of scalping Stoner’s father, Nick went into a rage. In Trappers of New York (published in 1850), author Jeptha Simms recounts the tale: “Stung to madness by the thought of being in the presence of his father's murderer, Stoner sprang to the fireplace, seized an old-fashioned wrought andiron, and with the exclamation ‘You never will scalp another one!’ hurled it, red hot as it was, at the head of the warrior. His own hand was burned to a blister by the iron, which striking the object of its aim in the hottest part across the neck with an indelible brand, laid him out at full length upon the floor; the register of death dropping from his hand. The quarrel having arrived at so dangerous a crisis, some of the friends of Major Stoner succeeded in getting him out of the house (Union Hall Inn); while other individuals ran for a physician, restoratives and the like.” Locals feared that if Stoner was not punished, the friends of the deceased man would take revenge, and so Stoner was taken to the jail. He was sprung from jail twice by his friends, who felt his punishment unjust. After the second jailbreak, Stoner returned home.

 

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