Monday, December 04, 2006

Stagecoach Inn (Gray's Inn) in Guthrie, KY

Life in the Upper South...

Grays Inn 1

Gray's Inn, also known as Stagecoach Inn, sits near the junction of Highways 181, 79 and 41 just west of Guthrie, Kentucky.

This area is known as "Tiny Town", because of the cluster of gas stations and other businesses around the intersection, I suppose. It's located on the Kentucky - Tennessee state line, and Tennesseans come there to buy Kentucky lottery tickets. (This was true particularly before Tennessee recently started its own state lottery.)

I have learned everything I know about Gray's Inn from the historic marker on the property and from the internet.

The historic marker notes that Gray's Inn was built in 1833 as a stagecoach stop by Major John P. Gray, the man who founded Elkton. The National Park Service adds that the inn served several stage lines. I think it's likely (I am guessing) that stagecoaches from Nashville, Bowling Green, Elkton and Hopkinsville met here.

According to various internet sources, the inn was one of the stops along the Trail of Tears, when the last of the Cherokee Indian lands were seized and the Cherokees were forcibly removed to Oklahoma. We can be sure that if anyone from the group stayed in Gray's Inn, it was the military escorts. The Cherokees would have camped nearby.

It is said that White Path, a Cherokee chief who was near death, drank from the well and blessed its sweet water. He named the well "Utok Amawah" which means "well of sweet water". A few days later at Hopkinsville, KY, White Path died. His grave is located on a small knoll above Little River, across from Belmont Hill, on the site of the Trail of Tears Park in Hopkinsville.

The National Park Service notes that the inn was used as a Civil War hospital, according to local oral tradition. It also provides the following cryptic note: "Possibly birthplace of African blackface minstrel." That statement seems to suggest that early minstrel shows were performed there, and that possibly, this was the first place that they were ever performed.

At any rate, it's a handsome old house and a long and interesting history and tradition is associated with it. It's a reminder that Tiny Town has been a busy crossroads for a long time.

Gray's Inn 2

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ShabbyInTheCity said...

More history on this Inn...Jenny Lind once sang from the balcony...Harry Covington's grandmother was one of the Cherokee's on the Trail of Tears. She was a baby to be exact and her parents were murdered. At this Inn she was adopted by a family by the name of Grant. They named her Elizabeth and she married a Covington. The last owners (before the current ones who are Merriwethers) were the Northingtons. They had one child, 'Teddy' who fell out of their moving vehicle to his death. He had told farm hands that day that he was going to meet Jesus. He was only 4.
Now you can have parties and dinner receptions here :)

Phyllis Covington

Genevieve said...

Thank you for adding those interesting bits of history. I met Mr. Harry Covington not long after my husband's bicycle accident. It's interesting to learn of his direct connection to the Trail of Tears.

Anonymous said...

I work not far from another Gray's Inn. It is an inn of court which means that it calls to the bar Barristers who are the advocates in our courts of law among other things. It has a long (14th century) and fascinating history. If you can be bothered you can find out by going to

Anonymous said...

It has also been said and recorded that United States Of America Usa President Andrew Jackson once stay and spend a night at the Stage Coach Inn ( Grays Inn ) of [ Tiny Town ] community in Guthrie-Kentucky.

Unknown said...

The Jenny Lind story was a complete fabrication.

Genevieve said...

Well, perhaps we can say that there is a local legend that Jenny Lind sang at Grays Inn, but some people believe it to be a fabrication.

Anonymous said...

In 1958/1959, my parents, who were in school at Austin Peay State College, used to go on dates to the Stagecoach Inn - which was at that time a restaurant that specialized in steaks.

Unknown said...

I love learning about historical homes and building being a Kentucky native and lived in Guthrie and know Guthrie moat of my life I never knew much about the hiatrhi of grays inn..I love the native American tale it's important and glad it's known

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