Legend has it that one of the Indian King’s most popular visitors was Dorothy Payne. As a Quaker, Dorothy did not dance, but she allegedly enjoyed watching the many dances that took place on the second floor. In 1794, Dolly as she came to be known, married James Madison who became the fourth president of the United States.
Taverns have always been a place for people to congregate, share ideas, and enjoy food and drink. They were an integral part of a community’s social fabric, providing respite for the townspeople as well as the weary traveler. During the Revolutionary War period in America, many taverns became centers for discourse on issues such as taxation, business constraints, and an increasing military presence by Great Britain. The Indian King Tavern was no exception.
Located in the prosperous market town of Haddonfield and across the river from Philadelphia, the tavern was visited by both commoners and the well-to-do. During the Revolutionary War, it was alternately occupied by both American and British forces. The Generals Marquis de Lafayette and “Mad” Anthony Wayne are said to have stopped here. After the war, the Indian King continued to serve the local citizenry and travelers.
The tavern’s first floor bar and public dining rooms, combined with a large assembly room on the second floor and numerous bedrooms, made it a popular destination. Patrons were assured of a set rate for food, drink and lodging since the Courts regulated prices. Tavern keepers were required to post a list of rates for not only their patrons, but for their patrons’ horses as well.
While the Indian King Tavern no longer serves the thirsty or the weary, it remains a destination point for those interested in learning about tavern life and how the Indian King impacted the town of Haddonfield and the history of New Jersey.