William  Rhodes

William Rhodes (abt. 1770 - abt. 1817)

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William Rhodes
Born about in St. Mary's, Marylandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married before [location unknown]
Husband of — married in Washington, District of Columbiamap
Husband of — married in Washington, District of Columbiamap
Descendants descendants
Died about in Nelson, Kentuckymap
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Rhodes-1126 created 1 Oct 2011 | Last modified
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William was born probably between 1765 and 1770 in St. Mary's county, Maryland. William was the child of Abraham Rhodes and Mary Gough.

The written record for William is sparse before his father's death, but it is most likely he was an apprentice to Thomas Thompson, a carpenter hired to help construct the church at Newtown beween April and December 1788. Apprentices to Thompson were listed as Joseph Abell and Billy Rhodes.

William was mentioned along with his siblings in his father's will in 1797, and was co-executor of the estate with his brother, Benedict Rhodes.[1]

William moved to the Washington, D.C. area shortly after the death of his father, apparently residing in Prince George's county for at least a short period of time. On December 6, 1798, records[2] show William registering two negroes as his personal property.

A List of negroes the property of William Rhodes who removed with the same from Fairfax County in the commonwealth of Virginia to Prince Georges county in the state of Maryland on the first day of December seventeen hundred and ninety eight with the following negroes to wit George about seven years of age Ann about seventeen years of age these negroes were brought here for my own use and not for sale. Wm Rhodes

While not definite evidence, the preceding list implies that William was taking care of his two minor half sisters. The negroes mentioned had been given to Mary Rhodes, the elder of the two, in their father's will.

From Abraham Rhodes will - Daughter: Mary Rhodes, a negro boy named George; a negro girl named Anna; and one good feather bed and furniture.

By April of the next year, records[3] show William selling one of the two slaves to his brother Benedict.

1799 Maryland SJ. Know all men by these presents that I William Rhodes of Prince Georgies County for in consideration of sixty poundes current money to me in hand paid the receipt of which I do hereby acknoledg have bargened and sold and by thes presents do bargin, sell and deliver to Benedict Rhodes of the County afforsaid a negro Garl named Ann about sixteen years of age. I doe hearby covenant and agree to and with the said Benedict Rhodes his heirs, an assigns forever against all maner of persons claiming hir whatever; Given under my hand and Seal this third day of April one Thousand seven hundred and ninety nine Wm Rhodes [Seal} Test: Ann Rhodes, [[Mary Rhods Enrolled April the 6th 1799

William was to stake his fortunes on the early years of the new federal city of Washington, D.C. The first notice of his arrival in the District of Columbia was a notice in the Centinel of Liberty [4].

William Rhodes Has rented the LITTLE HOTEL in the city of Washington and provided himself with the best of Liquor, &c necessary for a public house. The greatest attention will be paid, to give general satisfaction, to all those who may favor him with their custom.

This is the first mention of a man who was, for a number of years, one of the best known bonifaces of the city. The Little Hotel became known as one of the centers of what then passed for Washington society, hosting exhibitions, lectures, and formal balls. An itinerant educator or two also advertised holding classes in various educational endeavors at the inn.

By 1800, William is shown on the Georgetown tax list as owning "one house & lot in Threlkeld Addition" worth $600. The lot and house had formerly been owned by Elijah Fowler and his wife Anne. By 1800 Anne was the wife of William Rhodes.

By 1801 Rhodes' reputation as an innkeeper was such that he needed a larger establishment. He found such a place in a building at the corner of Fifteenth and D streets which adjoined to the west the lot on which the Little Hotel stood. The building had been constructed by fellow St. Mary's County native Bennet Fenwick but stood empty until Rhodes decided to rent it as his new inn. The building became known to generations as the Rhodes Tavern.

His business continued to grow at the new location which soon was known as the unofficial city hall of the young Washington D.C. The first evidence of its status comes in April 1801 when the district's first orphan's court was convened at the tavern.

"On the second Tuesday of April, 1801, the orphans' court, William Hammond Dorsey, judge, convened in "the house of William Rhodes," which was the tavern at the northeast corner of 15th and F. streets, N.W."[5]

Not only was William flourishing in his business endeavors, but he had acquired a family, marrying Anne Simms, the widow of Elisha Fowler, sometime before April 3, 1799. To the couple, two sons were born, William in 1800 and Hillary Hanson in 1801.

By April 1804, William was ready to expand his business again, taking over the much larger Lovell Hotel.

To be Sold at Auction On Tuesday the ? of April A Quantity of household furniture consisting of Beds and bedsteas, Chairs, Tables, Sideboards and Looking glasses, 2 Milch Cows, one Hack and one set of harness, one bay Horse and sundry articles too tedious to mention. Terms of sale; all sums are 30 Dollars are cash or adjusted accounts -- all above are fix months credit with notes and approved indorsers. The above Goods will be sold at Wm. Lovell's Hotel, who is resigning business in favor of Mr. Wm. Rhodes, Washington City. Sales to commence at 10 o'clock, A.M.[6]

Ann Simms Rhodes apparently died prior to October 18,1808 because in that month, William Rhodes married her cousin, Sarah Sims, the daughter of Ignatius Semmes and his wife Eleanor.[7] No children were born of this union, but Sarah was dead by October 19, 1814 when William married his third wife, Mildred Mary Burch, the daughter of Capt. Benjamin Burch and Rebecca Barron.

It's unknown precisely when William and Mildred decided to leave Washington, but by April 28, 1814, William was giving up his operation of the old Lovell hotel.

PUBLIC SALE Will be sold, on Thursday the 28th of April at William Rhodes' on Capitol Hill, all his household and kitchen furniture, consisting of ten feather Beds and Furniture; Tables; Chairs, Carpeting, Knives and Forks, Plates and Dishes &c &c. Sale to commence at 11 0'clock -- Terms of sale, all sums under fifty dollars cash, all sums over fifty, four months credit, with approved indorsers. N.L. Queen, Auc't.[8]

William may have been in Kentucky as early as 1815 but he was certainly there by no later than early 1817 since his crops in the field are mentioned in probate documents filed in Nelson county, Kentucky in the fall of 1817.

William died between August and December 1817 in Nelson County, Kentucky.

His widow left Kentucky and returned to the District of Columbia in about 1818.


Between 1765-1770 - Birth - St. Mary's County, Maryland.

January 1799 - Takes management of the Little Hotel - Washington, D.C.

Before April 3, 1799 - Marriage - Probably Montgomery or Prince George's County, Maryland. Married to Anne Simms Fowler, widow of Elisha Fowler, Jr.

1800 - U.S. Federal Census - Washington, Washington County, District of Columbia. In the 1800 census William Rhoads is listed three names above that of James Hoban, the designer of Washington, D.C., who was a notable resident of the Rhode's Tavern.[9]

1800 - Georgetown, Washington, District of Columbia - Georgetown tax list shows William with a house and lot in Threlkeld Addition of Georgetown worth $600.[10]

1801 - Opens Rhodes Tavern - Washington, D.C. This was variously known as Rhodes Hotel or Rhodes Tavern.

August 27, 1801 - Sells property in Georgetown - William Rhodes and his wife, Anne, sold Lot 113 to Edward Sims.[11]

April 4, 1804 - Lovell Hotel business sold to William Rhodes - Washington, D.C.

October 18, 1808 - Marriage - Married to Sarah Simms in Washington, D.C.

April 6, 1814 - Executor of the will of Eleanor Simms - Washington, D.C.

October 19, 1814 - Marriage - Married to Mildred Mary Burch in Washington, D.C.

Between August and December, 1817 - Death - Nelson County, Kentucky.

Estate inventory - Nelson County, Kentucky - Listing of the chattel of the estate of William Rhodes, deceased.


  1. St. Marys, Maryland, Accounts, Inventories, Wills, St. Mary's Will Books 1791-1805, Vol. JJ2: 197-198, Abraham Rhodes; FHL microfilm.
  2. Prince George's County Court (Land Records) JRM 6, 1798-1798 p. 0587, MSA CE 65-35
  3. Prince George's County Court (Land Records) JRM 7, 1799-1800 p. 95, MSA CE 65-36
  4. Centinel of Liberty, Washington, D.C., 11 Jan 1799, pg. 1
  5. National Intelligencer, 17 Apr 1801, p. 3; digital images, GenealogyBank.com (http://www.genealogybank.com: accessed 18 Mar 2012), Historic Newspapers.
  6. National Intelligencer, Washington, D.C.. April 4, 1804
  7. "No headline," Monitor, 20 Oct 1808, p. 3; digital images, GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com: accessed 18 Mar 2012) Historic Newspapers.
  8. National Intelligencer, Washington, D.C., April 28, 1814, pg. 1
  9. 1800 U.S. census, Washington, District of Columbia, Washington, p. 883 penned, line 4, William Rhoads; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 18 Mar 2012); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M32, roll 5.
  10. Washington, District of Columbia, U.S., 1800 Tax Book, entry for William, Rhodes; FHL microfilm 1,024,464.
  11. Commission of Fine Arts, editor, Georgetown Architecture - Northwest; Northwest Washington, District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.: n.p., 1970), pgs. 418-427.

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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with William by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known yDNA or mtDNA test-takers in his direct paternal or maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with William:

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Images: 2
William Rhodes Image 1
William Rhodes Image 1

William Rhodes on Georgetown tax list
William Rhodes on Georgetown tax list


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