Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tunn Tavern Philadelphia 1775

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Within months of the birth of Richard Somers, on November 10, 1775, the United States Congress authorized the formation of two battalions of Marines to serve on US ships that were also being authorized.

Samuel Nicholas was named first officer and later first Commandant of the Marines, while Robert Mullan, owner of Tunns Tavern, was assigned the responsibility of recruiting the marines. Mullan's wife, Peggy Mullan ran the Red Hot Beef Steak Club at Tunns, which was famous for its beer, which were made in the giant wood tunn kegs.

Tunns Tavern was located at Water St. and Tunn Alley, not far from the Front Street home of William and Sarah Somers Keen, sister and brother-in-law of Richard Somers.

Samuel Nicholas had attended the Philadelphia Academy, where Richard Somers, Stephen Decatur and Charles Stewart would also attend, a decade and a half later, before they would enter the reconstitute US Navy as the first class of Midshipmen under Captain John Barry.

Somers, Decatur and Stewart all grew up in that Center City Philadelphia neighborhood, and were quite familiar with the Tunn Tavern and the tavern run by Samuel Nicholas under the sign of the Connestogoe Wagon, which was on Market Street between 4th and 5th street. Nicholas' wife Mary Jenkins, from Jenkinstown, north of Philly on York Road, was neice of the mayor.

As young students at the Philadelphia Academy, Somers, Decatur and Stewart were said to have engaged in fist fights at the old Quaker cemetery and at St. Ann's cemetery, both within a few blocks of their school and homes.

Sam Nicholas, the first Commandant of the Marine Corps, is burried at the old Quaker cemetery, and Captain John Barry is burried at St. Ann's, along with Decatur and his wife, whose body was moved from her Washington D.C. burrial site and reburied next to her husband in the 1980s.

There is a movement to rebuild the Tunn Tavern at or near its original location, and a Tunn Tavern, a brew pub, was established in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

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