Isaac Stubbs, the hotel's owner, was a Quaker from Wrightsborough Meeting, in Georgia, where his parents and the ancestors of Robert H. Jones, the present owner of The Golden Lamb, lived on adjoining farms. He emigrated to Ohio with his parents and family in 1804. After learning the milling trade he built a mill on the Little Miami River. Around this mill grew a busy little settlement first called Millsbourough, later Stubbtown. When his business prospered, he built a good brick house nearby to live in. A versatile man, he engaged in many ventures, among which ownership of the Golden Lamb was one.
On March 7, 1845, Stubbs advertised in The Western Star.
"That Valuable Tavern Stand, long known as The Golden Lamb Hotel, now The Lebanon House, in the town of Lebanon, Warren County, Ohio, is now for rent, or for sale. The House has lately been enlarged, and is in the first state of improvement. The Stabling, which is new, is large and commodious, and the whole premises well worth the notice of those who may wish to purchase or rent property of this kind.
A considerable amount of the furniture now used in the house can be purchased of the present occupant upon very reasonable terms. Those wishing to purchase or rent will examine for themselves. Possession can be had from the 1st to the 15th of April.
March 7, 1845. Isaac Stubbs."Several men tried their luck at managing it, but continuing advertisements signified that they won small success.
Samuel Egbert, who had managed other Lebanon hotels, had an advertisement on August 6, 1847, proclaiming himself manager of The Golden Lamb. E. A. Wiles, another tavern keeper, advertised it as The Lebanon House on October 29, 1847. Other managers were Abner Ross, C. D. Roosa, and Giles Longstreth.
It was evidently a good business, however, since new additions were made at frequent intervals throughout the years. One of these was a three-story wing made to the north of the original building by Isaac Stubbs in April, 1854. Years later, in 1878, the fourth story was added to accommodate the men who were building the railroad. A drawing made at that time, shows a full-sized wind mill on top of the hotel, indicating that some modern conveniences were available.
Whitlaw Reid, in his Ohio in the War, wrote that the village of Lebanon had been singularly prolific in its distinguished sons. This was equally true of its guests. Rutherford B. Hayes opened his first campaign for Governor of Ohio in Washington Hall, and was at that time handsomely entertained with a dinner at the hotel by local politicians. Presidents James A. Garfield and William McKinley visited several times when they were campaigning for office. President Benjamin Harrison was entertained here when he came to address a reunion of soldiers at the Warren County Fairgrounds.
In the 1860 census of Lebanon, A. S. Ross, Jr., is listed as the Hotel Keeper. Board was from $2.50 to $5.00 per week, perhaps depending on the number of meals taken. By 1870 the cost of food had risen. The average cost was $4.00 to $6.00 per week, with about the same variety of professions listed as regular guests.
In The Western Star of April 25, 1861, there is news of the Civil War. The First Company of Volunteers to leave Warren County was Company A, Warren National Guards, with Rigdon Williams, Captain. The company numbered about 150 of the very best young men.
On the morning of their departure, April 23, 1861, The Warren Guards took breakfast at The Lebanon House. The papers recorded that "Abner (Ross) gave them a splendid meal to start on, which the boys will long remember. Everything passed off pleasantly to all interested."
A few moments later, however, one of the army wagons ran over a small boy in front of the Hotel - and the paper commented "Mothers should keep small children indoors at such a time."
In The Western Star of November 9, 1865, we read: "Change of Proprietors! The Lebanon House. The House is now open for the reception of guests, having been renovated, refitted and refurnished. The table is always furnished with the best the market affords, the cellar is stocked with the best wines and liquors, and the saloon supplied with the best cigars and tobacco.
"We intend to make The Lebanon House a first-class hotel. No pains will be spared to promote the comfort and suit the convenience of guests."
In 1870, The Western Star announced: "Lebanon House, W. H. Hart, Prop., Having secured a lease of this well known hotel for a term of years, it is now being repaired and put in good order," and a bit later: 'John Evans has assumed charge of The Lebanon House Wm. H. Hart, retiring. Mr. Evans informs us the house is for sale.
When it became apparent that an owner-manager was essential to profitable operation, Stubb's son, Albert, became the manager, to be associated with the hotel for thirty-six years. For a while he called it The Stubbs House, but the inn was more familiar to the traveling public as The Lebanon House, and the latter name persisted.
In 1871 Clement L. Vallandigham, one of America's most controversial politicians, killed himself accidentally, in his room at The Golden Lamb.
Vallandigham is said to be the only Ohio man removed from his native state because of "treasonable utterances." The handsome young lawyer, son of a Presbyterian Minister, was the most notorious leader of Southern sympathizers, known as the Peace Democrats or Copperheads.
He was the most colorful figure in the hectic days preceding the Civil War. Arrested by order of General Burnside and tried by a military tribunal in Cincinnati, he was sentenced to "banishment beyond Union Lines." President Lincoln suspended in the case the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, for the first time since the writing of the Constitution.
Vallandigham fled to Canada and became a Democratic candidate for Governor of Ohio. Although he polled a large vote, he was defeated for this office. He returned to this state soon after, resumed his law practice and became a popular public figure.
In June 1871, Vallandigham was counsel for a Butler County man who, charged with murder, had obtained a change of venue to Warren County. The lawyer's case hinged on the theory that the victim could have killed himself.
Demonstrating his plan to deliver the final address to the jury the next day, Vallandigham pulled his pistol from his trouser pocket. In a freak accident, the gun fired a bullet into his abdomen. Mortally wounded, he died the next morning. His client went free after a later trial.
Hotel arrivals were reported in the newspapers for a number of years. More than 120 guests were registered during the week of March 21st to 28th, 1881. They came from New York, Chicago and St. Louis. Others registered from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, Delaware, Kansas and Indiana, and from numerous places in Ohio.
The arrival of the first train into Lebanon was a day of rejoicing and banqueting, for it crowned efforts of more than forty years and the expenditure of thousands of dollars.
The first regular passenger train on the Cincinnati-Northern arrived on March 20, 1882, filled with the officers and directors of the railroad with more than thirty-five distinguished gentlemen from Cincinnati.
The train was met by over 2,000 Lebanon and Warren County citizens. A local committee including W. C. McClintock of The Western Star, C. W. Randall, J. B. Graham, R. H. Holbrook and J. W. Lingo, escorted the guests to The Lebanon House.
After a brief stop, the guests were driven over the city and shown the sights including the Corwin Home, the new Opera House, the National Normal University, the Reservoir and the many fine houses for which Lebanon is still today justly celebrated.
Returning to the Hotel, they were escorted to the spacious dining room decorated with evergreens and flowers, where an elaborate banquet was served. At the close of the banquet the excursionists re-embarked and returned to the city as they came. The citizens of Lebanon then indulged in a Grand Ball in honor of the day when the railroad came to town.
The menu for Thanksgiving, 1888, is typical of the services offered by hotels of this era and a far cry from the simple meals first served at The Golden Lamb. From The Western Star:
"The Lebanon House last week was in no way behind the hotels of larger pretensions in its Thanksgiving layout."
Lebanon, keeping up with the world, was striving for culture. At one time there were almost as many students in The National Normal University as there were inhabitants in the town.
From 1878 to 1898 there were 309 plays, 71 concerts, 65 lectures, 31 minstrel performances, 19 operas and operettas, 13 readings, 5 prestidigitation acts and 58 unclassified exhibitions, a total of 571 public entertainments to which an admission was charged. This record was kept by Josiah Morrow. The Golden Lamb, or Lebanon House, as it was then called, housed many of these performers.
With the coming of the railroad and the decline of stage coach travel, old roadside taverns were isolated and highways neglected.
As The Lebanon House, for more than half a century, this was just another hotel serving guests with indifferent attention.