Madeira’s namesake never visited the city

By Regina Villiers. Originally published August 17, 1994 in The Suburban Life, added October 16, 2019.

John Madeira Jr. and his father John (Jack) Madeira when they visited Madeira July 9. John Jr. lives in Atlanta. Jack lives in New Orleans.

     No record has ever been found to indicate that John Madeira, the man from whom Madeira received its name, ever visited the town, or even in Cincinnati.

     Yet, in July of this year, three John Madeiras showed up here.

     First, John Madeira and his wife Rachel, depicted by Gary and Cathy Louis, rode in the Independence Day parade in the horse and buggy float of the Madeira Historical Society.

     Eight days later, two authentic John Madeiras came to Madeira to visit.  John (Jack) Madeira of New Orleans and his son John Madeira Jr. of Atlanta, who are direct descendants of the original John Madeira, came here to visit Warren Joy, Madeira’s unofficial historian.  Jack and Warren have corresponded for several years about the Madeira family history.

     Jack, now 74 and retired, is the great-great grandson of John Madeira.  Jack now is devoting his retirement years to researching his famous family’s history. He has traced the Madeira family all the way back to Switzerland in the year 1567.

     The original John Madeira lived in Chillicothe, but Jack Madeira was born and grew up in Lexington, Ky.  His stepfather trained horses there for Louis B. Mayer.

     After serving in the Air Force in World War II, Jack married and ended up in the New Orleans area, where he has lived ever since.

     Madeira received its name in 1866 from Jack’s great-great grandfather, John Madeira, who was a directory and the treasurer of the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad that later came under the control and ownership of the B&O Railroad.

     Madeira, at that time, was an unnamed freight station on the railroad, and the railroad named the station Madeira to honor its treasurer and director.

     John Madeira was born in Woodstock, Virginia, but his family moved to Chillicothe when John was 14.  His father was in the hotel business and owned an inn in Chillicothe called the Western Hotel-Sign of the Green Tree.  John learned the hotel business from his father and took over the family hotel when his father retired.

     In 1824, John sold the family business and opened his own hotel, the Madeira Hotel.  It was supposed to have been the first brick tavern in Ohio.

     The title to the hotel finally passed to John Madeira in 1835, and the Madeira Hotel became one of the most famous stopovers in the country. Many famous people stayed there, including Henry Clay, William Henry Harrison, General Santa Anna, and Governor DeWitt Clinton.

     It is said that General Lafayette also stayed there, but Warren Joy says that has never been proved to be correct.

     John Madeira served in the Ohio Militia and attained the rank of colonel, so he is usually referred to as Colonel Madeira.  He also served two terms as an Ohio state senator.

     It’s easy for us in Madeira now to wonder why our town was named for a man who never even visited here, instead of maybe being called Hosbrook or Jonesville in honor of some of its earliest settlers.

     But Madeira received its name from a man who was most prominent and well known in Ohio at the time.

     Colonel Madeira was quite active in civic affairs, no just in Chillicothe but around the state.

     And his business activities were not limited to the running of his hotel.  He founded and operated a stagecoach line.  He was involved in the building of a dam to provide waterpower for factories. He owned a mail contract, using 100 horses, so that mail could be carried twice a day between Chillicothe and Cincinnati.

     He was active in the creation of the Ohio and Erie Canal. He was president of the Zanesville and Milford Turnpike Company.  He was also involved in banking, serving as a director of the Chillicothe Branch of the State Bank of Ohio, and he established a branch bank in Logan and served as its president.

     He was in the top layer of Chillicothe high society, presiding over public dinners and entertaining at his home such visiting notables as the Turkish sultan, Emin Bey, in 1850.

     And he was a rich man by todays or any other standards.  In the 1870 U.S. Census, his occupation is listed a capitalist.  He owned extensive land and real estate holdings including more than 30 parcels around Chillicothe, many of them downtown.

     He also owned a half interest in a parcel of 209 acres located in Indian Hill, just south of the present city of Madeira.  The exact location is south of Shawnee Run Road and between Miami and Drake roads.

     There’s also another Madeira name you may be seeing a lot of in the future and you’ll find it in the future sports pages.  The name is Jay Madeira.

     Jay is the 16-year-old son of John Madeira Jr. and the last of the Madeira family to date.  He’s a left-handed baseball pitcher, and he’s so good that he was contacted by the Atlanta Braves when he was only a sophomore in high school.

     When the Madeiras were visiting inn Cincinnati and Madeira that week in July, they were here that week in July, they were here because Jay’s team, East Cobb, was playing at the University of Cincinnati.  East Cobb’s record was 56-5.

     So, in a few years, keep an eye on the Atlanta Braves and watch for a left-handed pitcher named Jay Madeira.  

     Remember, you saw it here first.