The Black Horse Inn and the Tragedy of Catharine Rader

Updated: Sep 17, 2021

On June 2, 1877, Catharine Rader was murdered by an unknown bandit who broke into her home. The house she occupied in used to be an inn that was called the "Black Horse Inn."


The Black Horse Inn

The building was erected in 1774 by James Bartleson as a home until in 1796 when he established the "Black Horse Inn" after he was granted a license to operate his inn. This was the second inn that was opened in the Blue Bell area. The first inn was the Blue Bell Inn, also known as "The White Horse Inn." The two inns were rivals, which was why their names were kind of similar.

It's unknown how long the rivalry lasted, but the Black Horse Inn was discontinued in 1826, which converted back into a residence. One of the most famous residents living in this home was Samuel Rader and his wife Catharine.


The Radar Tragedy

The horrible incident took place on the morning of June 2nd, 1877, when a burglar/burglars broke into the home of Samuel and Catharine Rader while they were sleeping. It was said that Catharine was trying to help Samuel, who was wrestling to get the gun away from the burglar/burglars. Unfortunately, the gun fired at Catharine, killing her.

Others said that a black man murdered Catharine after the man was caught by surprised by Catharine herself.

As a result of Catharine's death, Samuel ended up moving to West Philadelphia where he died. Both were buried at the Union Cemetery in Whitemarsh, Montgomery County, PA.



According to the PA Historic Resource Survey Form, it's a Georgian-style home with 4 6x6 sash windows on the first floor, and 5 6x6 sash windows on the second floor. Other features on the former residence are side-gabled, open roof, gabled dormers, and stone structure.

It's interesting to see the chimney on one side of the building. In common Georgian homes, there are usually 2 chimneys on both sides of the house. It's possible that the other chimney was moved onto the additional side of the house later in the years to maintain its original feature.

But the door surround of the building fits more with the Federal-style. This door surround in particular has an elliptical fanlight with sidelights surrounding the door, and it's considered very common in Federal-style buildings.

The most important feature of the house is the date-maker on the west facade of the building, dating "1796."

Montgomery County 1877, Whitpain, Rahn Sta., Grater's Ford; J.D. Scott, Publisher
Google Satellite Plan View: 598 W Skippack Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422
Google Satellite Birdseye View: Looking South


Bean, Theodore Weber. History of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania: Volume 2. (Philadelphia: Everts & Peck, 1884): 1171.

"Bulletin of the Historical Society of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania." Historical Society of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania 5, no 2. 111.

"Distance Calculator." DaftLogic. Accessed October 16, 2020.

McAlester, Virginia Savage. A Field Guide to American Houses. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2017): 51, 201-214, 219.

Scott, J. D. Montgomery County 1877, Whitpain, Rahn Sta., Grater's Ford, 1877.

Whitpain... Crossroads in Time. (Montgomery County, PA: Whitpain Township Bicentennial Commission, 1977): 273.

#pahistory #whitpain #historicpreservation #architecture #bluebell #skippackpike #blackhorseinn #radartragedy #PAHSRF #georgian #federal

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