ALLEGHENY TOWNSHIP — In the late 1700s there weren't many nightlife options in the Laurel Highlands.
When tired and thirsty pioneers made their way over the Allegheny Front to the border of modern-day Allegheny Township — a 1,000-foot change in altitude — he could find rest and respite at Miller's Tavern, home of John "Saucy Jack" Miller.
The remains of the tavern are located near Fort Dewart in Juniata Township, Bedford County, on land owned jointly by members of the Folmont Property Owners Association. Presently there is a loose ring of rocks from the foundation and a large hearthstone that was used for cooking.
Allegheny Township resident William L. Nuzzo owns many of the artifacts that were extracted from the tavern site during a 1965 archaeological dig financed by the ground's former owner Martha Eastwood. The dig was conducted by the late Jacob Grimm of Ligonier.
Looking idly at his collection of artifacts — spoons, musketballs and coins dated as early as 1736 — Nuzzo spoke of his future goal.
"Ultimately what I always wanted to do is build a replica of Miller's Tavern and (put) these things it in as a museum," he said. "We're not sure what it looked like. One traveler called it a big log building."
A business decision
Miller's Tavern shares a direct link to Forbes Road and Fort Dewart, an earthen redoubt constructed by Cpt. Sir Allan Maclean in 1758 on behalf of the British during the French and Indian War.
According to "Saucy" Jack descendent Tom Gull, Miller was born sometime prior to 1736 and was likely of Scottish descent. He first came into the region as a packhorse man with the Forbes Expedition. Gen. John Forbes was tasked with creating a westward route to Fort Duquesne near Pittsburgh, a stronghold of the enemy French forces.