Long Line of Ownership

The ownership dates back to the early 18th century:

James Thomas (<1711 – 1722)

  • A Welshman, Thomas, built a log cabin on this location before 1711, and according to tradition, kept an inn at this location while he was a constable
  • He located his cabin in “unbroken wilderness..on the very outskirts of civilization.”
  • According to tax records of 1715, his assessment was double the amount of any other property owner.
  • The first official record still in existence for the house is the application in 1721 of James Thomas for a license “to keep a house of entertainment, for selling wine, brandy, rum, and other strong liquors.”
  • Thomas was constable for the township in 1711
  • Thomas built the stone tavern to the east of the log cabin during his ownership; the log cabin location is now where an extension built around 1790 currently stands.
  • To maintain a license the tavern or inn owner would have to be considered of good character. James had difficulty with public drunkenness and was avoiding Quaker meetings around this time–notes from meetings show the issue dragged on through much of 1722.  
  • James offered the tavern and stone barn for sale in October of 1721.

Edward and Mary Kinnison [Kennison] (1722 – 1736)

  • Edward Kinnison became the constable in 1712 of Whiteland township, succeeding Thomas.
  • There is a reference that Kinnison applied for a tavern license in 1717 but was denied, and he arranged a deal with Thomas to apply in 1721. NEED SOURCE
  • The business flourished and became a local landmark during his ownership.
  • Mary is listed on the tavern petition 1731.  Nee Greenaway.

Edward Jr. Kinnison [Kennison] (1737…)

  • Son of Mary and Edward, listed on the tavern petition

James Trego (…1739 – 1746)

  • In 1746, the Pennsylvania Gazette listed the James Trego estate for Sale.  This notice carried the description ‘White Horse has been a tavern and a good business for 30 years past.’  If taken literally, this dates the origin of the Tavern to around 1715.
  • He submitted tavern petitions as early as 1723, and one in 1734 called “Three Bottles.”  The petitions he did make never mention White Horse.
  • James bought 130 acres of land in Whiteland in 1735 (recorded in 1742), not sure if related.  Note on source: “See return of original ??? 18 Dec 1762”
    • Source: Warrant Applications 1742 No. 37, 1733-1952. Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania State Archives. Land Warrants. Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg, PA. 

John Hambright [Hambryht] (1746-11/8/1753)

  • Submitted tavern petitions from 1746-1755.
  • He lost a horse in the middle of June 1748 and offered a reward of 20 shillings.  He directed the mare be brought to Mr. John Eiddle at the Sign of the White Horse on Market Street in Philly.
    • Source: Penn Gazette 15 August 1748, Thu  •  Page 4
  • His interest was sold at auction on Nov 8, 1753.
    • Source: Penn Gazette 25 Oct 1753, Thu  •  Page 2

John Neely (1752-1759)

  • Submitted tavern petitions
  • Referenced in Roger Hunt’s account book are “Incident Charges extraordinary,” some of them being as follows: To John Nealy’s, at the [Upper] White Horse 8 1/2 mile 12 perches

Vaughan Jonathan (1756)

    • Submitted tavern petition in 1756 for White Horse which the county denied.  He later submitted petitions for Red Lyon from 1758 to 1760.  This looks more like a mistake, or possibly a favor.

Thomas [Jr.] Hubbert (1756 – 4/21/1764)

  • Listed on Tavern petitions
  • His wife Rachel Phipps inherited the property after Thomas’s death in 1761.   The will wasn’t probated until 1764.  Rachel then married Owen Aston
  • The tavern was seized by Sheriff John Fairland before April 21, 1764, and sold at a public auction on May 12th, 1764.  source: Penn Gazette May 3, 1764 notice of sale.

Thomas Lemon [Leman] [Lemmons] (1761 – 1762)

    • Tavern petitions
    • Operated the tavern during this time for the estate of Thomas Hubbert.

Owen Aston (June 1964 – Jan 1765)

  • Source: Deed Book dated June 19th 1764 N Volume 13 Page 331.  Owen was the high bidder at 1,225 pounds for approximately 150 acres.
  • The estate was seized on July 29, 1765, and sold at auction on August 17th.
    • Source: Penn Gazette, August 1, 1765, page 3.
  • He placed an ad in the Penn Gazette on 4 Oct 1764 to sell the property.
  • He was married to Rachel Phipps (whose previous husband was Hubbert) sometime between 1760 and 1765.
  • Captain in Capt. Jas. Young’s Company of Cumberland County Militia in 1780.
  • From the “Pennsylvania Centre Democrat” newspaper: James Aston’s grandfather and great-grandfather came from England in 1755.
  • Source: Owen’s will filed in Chester.

Reese Meridith (August 1765 – 1784)

  • Bought property with a mortgage of 250 pounds from Owen & Racheal Aston
    • Source: Common Pleas Court Docket – 1760-1766 Page 20
    • Source:  Chester County Deed Book N page 542.  Image: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSFB-Y3L9-4?i=579&cat=246232
  • Source: End date of 1784 based on 1777 Atlas of Chester County notes related to White Horse Tavern landmark.

John Kerlin (September 1784 – September 1789)  

  • Source: Action (adjournment) dated September 15th 1789 V-2 Volume Page 102 mentions Indenture dated September 6th 1784 conveyed premises that consisted of 146 acres 60 perches of land more or less to John Kerlin.
  • John filed for reparations from the British for debt incurred during the war.
  • Long-term Proprietor of Tavern & Inn from 1767? to his death in 1787. 
  • In 1762 John was living at something called “Sign of the Waggon” on Lancaster Road.
    • Source: Penn Gazette 10 June 1762  •  Page 3
  • The tavern was “to be Let” after John’s death in 1787.
    • Source: Penn Gazette 11 July 1787  •  Page 1
  • The property was sold after John’s death in April 1789.  The advertisement for sale mentions both John Kerlin and Arthur Rice as keeping the inn but says to contact “The Printers” for more information.
    • Source: Penn Gazette 11 Mar 1789, Page 3

Thomas Reston Kennedy (September 1789 – September 1790)

  • Source: Deed Book V – 2 Page 102
  • References 120 acres sold for 360 pounds

Arthur Rice (September 1790 – 1813)

  • Rice operated the tavern for the estate of John Kerlin from 1787. 
  • He bought the property in 1790 for 650 pounds (a total of 58 3/4 acres)
    • Source Deed Book H-2 Volume 32 Page 237
  • Rice was a trusted scout of George Washington during the encampment at Valley Forge.
  • Possibly built the eastern two-story stone addition to the tavern before 1790.
  • Masonic Lodge #50 was chartered on December 6th, 1790, and met in the eastern stone section of the house on the second floor until 1806.

         James Bone (1791 – 1793)

    • Bone was the brother-in-law of Arthur Rice
    • He filed a tavern petition from 1791-1793 for the White Horse.  Then Sign Of Gen.Washington from 1794-1800, then Yellow Springs from 1805-1823, then General Washington Inn from 1824-1825.
    • Mentioned as White Horse “Innkeeper” in 1791 article.
      • Source: Penn Gazette 27 April 1791  •  Page 4

Jean [Jane] Rice (1797)

    • Jane was the wife of Arthur and took ownership upon his death
    • “Jean” is listed in country records for a tavern petition in 1797

Stephen Bowen (1797 – 1807)

    • Bowen married Jane Rice in 1797

James Rice (1808 – 1812)

    • Possibly the son of Arthur and Jane.
    • Listed on tavern petition
    • The stone stable addition contains a date of 1811, which would indicate James extended the small stone barn.

Joseph [John] Pearce (1813-1827)

    • Source: Indenture dated April 6th, 1813 in Deed Book H-3 Vol. 56 Page 77

William Frederick (1813 – 1815)

    • Refers to the tavern as “Old White Horse Tavern” in the 1815 tavern petition
    • He moved on to Steamboat from 1816-1817, and then General Wayne from 1818-1832.

Joseph Pearce (1813 – 1832)

  • Source: Indenture dated April 6th, 1813 in Deed Book H-3 Vol. 56 Page 7
  • Joseph was the brother of Col. Cromwell Pearce
  • In 1829 refers to the tavern as “White Horse Inn.”
  • Member of Lodge 50 in 1805.
  • Elijah Davis (1825)
    • References in tavern petition
  • John Worrale [possibly Worrall] (1826)
    • References in tavern petition
  • Jane Pearce (1828-31)
    • Joseph’s wife.  Listed in tavern petition.

Adam Reitenbaugh (1832 – 1866)

  • He bought the property for $6,900.
    • Source: Indenture dated April 24th, 1832 in Deed Book F-4 Page 417.  It is
      mentioned that Jane Pearce and Cromwell Pearce Esquire as Executors of the Last
      Will and Testament of Joseph Pearce transferred the property to Adam.
    • The reference states that Adam had been the innkeeper at the time.
  • Adam rebuilt a log barn into a stone barn on his property in 1839.  This barn is at the corner of Plainbrook and Swedesford, not the smaller stone barn on the current property.
  • Adam also recruited a volunteer company in the 1840s.  Members of the 4th Regiment, formerly the 143rd, gather for drill and inspections on orders from Colonel Samuel Burnett.  Source: 9/30/1845, American Republican, and to meet at Adam Reitenbaugh’s. [NEED SOURCE]
  • He refused in 1856 to renew the tavern’s license, and the property became a working farm.
  • He named his son George Washington Reitenbaugh.  A visitor told me that one can find GW’s initials in the house somewhere, but I haven’t seen it yet.
  • He sold the property for $31,000 in 1866.  [NEED TO VERIFY]
  • His father was Samuel [Peter] Reitenbaugh
  • Adam Passed away on 29 Mar 1867– https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/22832130/adam-reitenbaugh
  • There is a grave for Samuel https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/147108274/samuel-reitenbaugh

Edward Rhine  (1866 – 1868)

William Weightman (…1873 – 1911)

  • “Philadelphia’s well-known capitalist” was worth over 50M, the wealthiest person in the Philadelphia area.
  • Paying $30,735 for the property, he repaired and remodeled the home as noted in Wayside Inns on the Lancaster Roadside.
    • Source: Deed Book F 7 Page 20
  • Maps from 1873 and 1883 show Weightman owning the tavern property with a house and two barns marked.  He also owned a significant amount of land nearby.
  • Anna Walker (daughter) inherited all of William’s properties on his death in 1904.

John Swanenburg & Children (1921 – 6/25/1954)

  • He bought the property in 1921, and the family worked the property as a farm until 1954,  using the tavern as the family residence.
    • Source: Indenture dated December 5th 1921 in Deed Book Z 18 Page 328
  • Possibly worked the farm for Ann Waker from 1911. 
  • He subdivided the farm in 1954 and auctioned off the pieces
  • Source: “Swananbers Home” in Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society History Quarterly, October 1970 Volume 15 Number 4, Page 77.

Alfred and Ruth Adrien  (6/25/1954 – 6/23/1955)

  • Source: Chester County Deed 5150933.  Grantors list: Anna Mae, Marcus, Sarah E., and Watson Swanenburg

William D. and Beadie R. (Hazel P.) Morehead (6/23/1955 -10/21/1970)

  • Source: Chester County Deed 5161578 — Lists Hazel P. in Grantee, but when sold to Rambo, lists Beadie R. as Grantor

Davis E. A. and  Mary J. Rambo (10/21/1970 – 4/9/1976)

  • Source: Chester County Deed – 5355877
  • Source: Chester County Mortgage – 5355858, William Morehead held the mortgage for the Rambos.

John Danner (4/9/1976 – 8/24/1976)

  • Bought at a foreclosure auction by the 2nd and 3rd mortgage holder on the property to protect their investment
  • Source: Chester County Sheriff’s Deed – 5460794

Rutherford & Patti Miller (8/24/1976 – 12/10/2017)

  • Bought foreclosed property and restored property while raising their family on the property
  • Registered the property as a National, State, and County historic landmark
  • Address change from 480 Swedesford Rd., Malvern, Pennsylvania, to current 606 Swedesford Rd, Malvern, Pennsylvania

Gestalt Holdings, LP (12/10/17 – Present)


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