Steeles Tavern Manor

A short history of Steeles Tavern’s founder – from his descendants

Descendants of David Steele of Steels Tavern VAOur Inn is named in honor of David Steele who built a Tavern in this area when he returned from fighting the British in the American Revolution. David Steele’s story and the history of our Inn are fascinating. As innkeepers, hearing stories like this and having the family of the founder of our town stay at our inn, are some of the reasons we enjoy this vocation. In fact, much of the following information is provided by the great, great, great, great grandchildren of David Steele, Harry Boyte & Anne Boyte (brother & sister). Harry and Anne visited with us in October!

The story of our county begins in the 1720’s when settlers began arriving in the area from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and eastern Virginia. The greatest numbers of early Augusta County settlers were from the province of Ulster in the north of Ireland, or were the Pennsylvania and Maryland-born children of these Ulster Scots or Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. David Steele was of Scots-Irish descent and part of this community. Many early settlers took up land on the 112,000-acre tract that the colonial government granted to William Beverley.

David Steele and his brother volunteered to fight in the local militia against the British in the Revolutionary War. When he was 22 years old, David Steele served as Wagon Master under General Nathaniel Green was severely wounded during the defeat at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse North Carolina. After receiving 16 saber slashes while a prisoner of war, David kept his wit about him and realized that the way to save his own life was to appear as if he had already lost it. He was brutally injured but it is said that “it is hard to kill an Irishman” and somehow David Steele made it back to his home in Virginia. When David arrived home, he had surgery to remove a portion of his skull and replace the missing section with a metal plate. This surgery was required due to his injuries while in North Carolina.

David and his wife, Mary, built Steeles Tavern – a resting place for travelers passing through the Shenandoah Valley. In addition to the tavern, David owned and operated gristmills in the area. The original Steeles Tavern served some well-known and well-traveled people of the day including the Marquis de Chastellux, the Marquis de Lafayette. The tavern was spoken well of by both of these famous men.

The area surrounding David Steeles’ 500 acres grew and prospered. The small town was first known as Midway, due to its location midway between Baltimore, MD and Knoxville, TN, as well as being midway between Staunton and Lexington VA. The town then became known as Steeles Tavern because David’s inn was so prominent in the community and that it was an important stagecoach stop for weary travelers.

Descendants of David Steele of Steeles Tavern VAThe house we now occupy is not the same original Tavern built and kept by David Steele, but we do offer the same great hospitality to weary travelers and people trying to escape the rush of their everyday lives. Stay with us and see the letter presented to us from David Steeles’ family – feel the history of our area and enjoy the experience of today’s Steeles Tavern.

3 thoughts on “A short history of Steeles Tavern’s founder – from his descendants

  1. Hello, I am a descendant of David Steele through my mother, and would like to get in contact with any of David Steele’s descendants with whom you still have contact. I read your information and you note you have received a letter from David’s family. My family visited there when I was a child when my mother was doing geneological research at the Fincastle, Va., courthouse. I grew up near Fincastle, IN., founded by David’s 3-4 generations later great or great, great grandson in the early 1820-30’s and am a direct descendant now doing geneological research.

    I so appreciate any assistance you can provide in reaching any other of David’s living descendants. My name is Nancy Rieke, 9427 Camberwell Dr., Fort Wayne, IN. 46804, email: and phone 260-387-5322

  2. David Steele was my 4th great uncle. He was married to Mary Hider(Hyder). They lived in Augusta County, VA. Could they be the same people who founded Steele’s Tavern?

    William Steele

  3. Hello William,

    It’s possible. I am finding that many Steeles are names David, Thomas, William, and John. We are the new owners of STM and are just beginning to learn about the Steeles and this area.

    David Steele founded Steeles Tavern after the American Revolutionary War. He married a woman named Janet and they had 7 or 9 children. The actual tavern was torn down in the 1800s and the logs taken somewhere. The current town of Steels Tavern now has an auto parts store, post office, and our B&B.

    Please stop by if you’re in the neighborhood and I’d love to show you around.

    Dana Tumminello


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