Joseph was born in Dublin Ireland the 12th of October 1712. The names of his parents are still being researched by many. One possibility is James and Harriet nee Trowbridge Tomlinson as his parents. Joseph came to America in 1726, and settled in Maryland state. It has been written he came with his brothers, Nathaniel, John, James and Jessie. Joseph would have been 14 years old when he emigrated leaving the strong possibility he emigrated with his parents.
Joseph married Rebecca Swearingen on the 21st of October 1738 in Queen Ann Parish, Anne Arundel County, Maryland. By 1740 Joseph was working for Jonathan Hager at Hagerstown, Maryland at the London Fur Company. He was superintendent of the fur storehouse outpost in Wills Creek in Maryland near the Pennsylvania border.
In those days, Colonel Washington and his colonial army were fighting the French and Indian war in Maryland and Pennsylvania area . Washington and Braddock’s army was active in Little Meadows, and most of Western Maryland, building wagon roads to transport artillery, supplies, and building stockade forts to aid in this war.
It wasn’t until the captured Fort Duquesne from the French in 1758, that it was safe for travelers to go westward on the Braddock Road. Inns were needed to accommodate these travelers across the mountains. This demand inticed Joseph, then a well-to-do planter, to go west and purchase an inn to accommodate these travelers.
On September 20th of 1760, at age 48, Joseph deeded his 367 acres called “Water Sink” to Samuel Volgomat. He then moved west to Little Meadows. By 1761 Joseph purchased a 100 acre tract in Little Meadows which included the old campground used by Colonel Washington. He had it patented and called it “Good Will”. Good Will was only a day’s horse-back ride from Cumberland. It had good water, pasture and glade hay for the stock. Indeed this was a good site for an Inn.
Joseph built the large log inn and stables near a spring on old Braddock Road naming it the “Red House”. He became the first inn keeper at Little Meadows and the first settler in which is now called Garrett County . Many noted travelers, including General Washington were guests at the old Red House Inn.
His son, Jesse, later erected the splendid “Stone House” on the National Road and just a little distance form the former Red House. The Stone House is a, massive structure, three and half stories in the rear and two in the front. It has on its rear end a three story porch and a verandah one story high in front. The lands attached are the most fertile in the state and lie beautifully at the foot of the mountain
Jessie was also the first postmaster in the region and kept the post-office and a little store in his tavern. Little Meadows and the Stone House are the most attractive sites on the old National Road and threescore years ago they were centers of polities and society in Allegany county.
Joseph and Rebecca raised ten children in the Red House. The great hardships they endured during the war with the French and the tracking of Indians only made them a hardy breed of adventurers. Joseph with adventure in his blood, and their sons grown, was once again looking westward. Joseph was well acquainted with the familiar yearning to improve his fortunes. This was the same desire that caused his father to leave Ireland for the new lands and Joseph to leave his farm to adventure in to new lands to open an inn. Now it was drawing him to once again leave his comfortable home for the unbroken wilderness called Ohio Valley which was dangerous and unsettled lands.
Joseph was an expert surveyor; he was noted to be an excellent judge of good soil and of good location from a business point of view. They surveyed and entered land at several points between Wheeling, Kentucky, and above Wheeling at Yellow Creek. Joseph assisted his sons in locating land in several places .
In 1770 Joseph and his son Samuel continued their exploration and quest for land as far as the Great Kanawha. This perilous trip was in a canoe armed with rifles, tomahawk and their surveyor instruments. They depended largely on the game of the forest, fish and parched corn for their sustenance. They stopped opposite the mouth of the Muskingum river and laid their claim on 400 acres of land. They left their sign or token of claim- that is, their initials blazed on a beech tree with gunpowder.
Joseph returned to Little Meadow near Wills Creek, making that his home until 1793 when several of his children having married and settled in that vicinity of Grave Creek. Joseph returned to Grave Creek, and died in Wheeling on December 1st, 1793 at age 81. Joseph well earned the title of pioneer, explorer and adventurer, with honors given to him for his help in opening up the great Ohio Valley to civilization. It also ought to be noted that he served our country as a member of the Committee of Safety of Ohio county of Virginia in the Revolutionary War days. Joseph Tomlinson descendants are registered in the Daughters of the American Revolution and he is listed in lineage book number 60 on page 87.