The historic Robinson-Pavey house — recently moved from its original location on Highland Avenue at the Court Street corner to a lot on State Route 41 SW in Washington C.H. — was the home of Madison Pavey for 45 years. Madison Pavey was a Washington C. H. attorney, born in 1831 on a farm that straddled the Fayette-Highland County line near U.S. 62 South. He was a member of a pioneer Highland County family.
After his graduation from law school at the University of Cincinnati, Madison began practicing law in Washington Court House in 1861. In the same year, he purchased the Highland Avenue home from John Robinson, part owner of a local weaving factory.
Madison Pavey was a Republican. He served two terms as Fayette County’s prosecuting attorney (1862-64 and 1872-74) and represented Fayette County for one term in the Ohio State Senate (1886-87). Pavey was a cosmopolitan man. At a time when few Americans ventured across the oceans, he traveled alone in 1889 from New York to Liverpool on the British steamer Celtic and spent six weeks touring England and France.
In 1855, Madison Pavey married Mary Dunlap from nearby Greenfield. They became the parents of three sons—Charles, Frank, and George—and a daughter, Mary Sophie. The Pavey children received their primary and secondary educations in the public schools of Washington Court House. Each of the three sons was a graduate of Yale University’s law school in New Haven, Connecticut. Mary Sophie graduated in 1893 from Wellesley College in Massachusetts.
Charles, the eldest son, was born in 1857. He became a prominent attorney in Columbus. He was a member of the First Congregational Church on Broad Street when Washington Gladden was its pastor. Gladden exerted worldwide influence in the early 20th century as father of the “Social Gospel” movement, which advocated the application of Christian values to secular life and institutions. Pavey and Gladden were friends. Charles Pavey was an active member of several fraternal orders and served as Grandmaster of the Odd Fellows’ Grand Lodge of Ohio in 1903 and 1904.
Frank Dunlap Pavey, Madison and Mary’s middle son, became a lawyer of international reputation. In 1884, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, America’s oldest and most distinguished academic honor society. After law school at Yale, he practiced law in New York City and resided in the city’s prestigious Washington Square. In the 1890s, he represented New York City districts as a Republican, first in the New York State Assembly and then in the New York State Senate.
Frank was the legal advisor for a consortium of Spanish businessmen whose economic interests had been affected by the loss of Spain’s sovereignty over Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines after the Spanish-American War (April-August 1898). He spent the last three months of 1898 in Paris advising the Spanish delegation that was negotiating with U. S. representatives the treaty that officially ended America’s war with Spain.
Five years later, he was chief legal counsel for the newly independent Republic of Panama and coauthored the Panama Canal Treaty, which the United States and Panama signed in 1903. The treaty established the Panama Canal Zone and set the stage for the United States’ construction of the Panama Canal.
Frank Pavey had an affinity for the language, history, and culture of France. He spoke French fluently. For many years, he was a leader of the American branch of L’Alliance Francaise, an international organization whose purpose was promoting the French language and culture worldwide. In 1921, for his longtime advocacy of French interests in the United States, the French government made him a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest award for meritorious service to the French nation.
George Pavey, born in 1865, was Madison Pavey’s third son. He was an attorney in Washington C. H. before relocating to Dallas, Texas, in 1903. There, he resumed the practice of law and invested in Texas real estate. Madison Pavey died in 1906. His wife, Mary Dunlap Pavey, died in 1921. The Paveys are just one of the many unique families whose accomplishments have added luster to Fayette County’s proud and colorful history.