Greetings, and welcome to the Historical Society of Riverton's website for our town, founded in 1851, by a group of ten Philadelphians for summer homes for their families. Displayed within its scant square mile area of Victorian-flavored neighborhoods and gaslamp-lined streets are more than 150 years of American architectural styles. More than half of Riverton's buildings are included in the State and National Directories of Historic Places.

Here is the venerable Porch Club, birthplace of the PTA; Riverton Yacht Club, one of the oldest and still active yacht clubs in the country; the beloved Riverton Public School which just turned one hundred; treasured churches and other institutions, as well as businesses and a hometown to almost 3,000 proud Rivertonians.

Our masthead banner, derived from a delightful folk art painting by Riverton author and artist, Anne Knight Ruff, evokes the charm and vitality of our richly historic borough and serves as your invitation to explore it further with us.


Riverton fire engines past and present

RFCo Engine #10. by Gary R. Weart

RFCo Engine #10. by Gary R. Weart

As Riverton’s recent July Fourth Parade attests, it’s not a parade without the fire engines and the fire fighters.

Riverton Children's Parade c.1950's

Riverton Children’s Parade c.1950’s

The purpose of this post is to consolidate some information and images from past posts on this subject.

Former Mayor Bruce Gunn provided the c.1950s Kodachrome slide for this fire engine (possibly Palmyra’s) from more than a half century earlier.

This past June, I posted this scan of a photo I bought on eBay to our Facebook page, and asked if anyone could identify the men. The only description for the small undated photo appears at the bottom – “192 American LaFrance, 750 GPM type 75, Riverton, NJ.”

American LaFrance, Riverton, NJ

American LaFrance, Riverton, NJ

A few days later, we received this response from Cara Vandy:

My mother, Mary Vandy, who was born in Riverton, says the driver is her uncle, Earnest “Ernie” Bishop and the other man is Jesse Perkins.

So now, can we assume that the photo was taken during a July Fourth Parade, or was it taken elsewhere, as was the case with this other photo I bought in 2013?

1956 photo 1926 RFD ALF 750 pumper in AC

1956 photo 1926 RFD ALF 750 pumper in AC

The seller’s description reads: “A very nice old 1956  original B & W 4 by 6 inch photo of the Riverton NJ Fire Dept  1926 ALF 750 pumper. This photo was taken by me at the  NJ State Firemen s Parade in 1956 Atlantic City.”

If a reader can identify the driver, please advise.

See other fire apparatus photos which appeared in February and November 2011 posts.

courtesy of Mike Nowacki, Jersey Shore Photography

image courtesy of Mike Nowacki, Jersey Shore Photography

We come full-circle to Riverton Borough’s newest fire apparatus, Riverton, NJ Engine 2412, a 2015 Pierce Impel 2000/750, which made its Children’s Parade debut in 2015.

Read more of the history of Riverton Fire Company, which celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2015, in a series of articles written by former Town Historian Betty B. Hahle reprinted from July Fourth Program booklets in this June 2013 post.

Let this post serve as an invitation to readers to exhibit more photos of RFCo apparatus, old or new.

RFC1927ALF, chief's auto DGusky

RFC1927ALF and chief’s auto by DGusky

David Gusky, an avid model builder uses such photos to create incredibly detailed miniature duplicates of Riverton Fire Company vehicles.

And just maybe someone else will recognize an ancestor or acquaintance in this tribute to Riverton Fire Company equipment and fire fighters.

For more information, visit the RFCo webpage and Facebook page– JMc

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The HSR sends a heartfelt Thank-You to Carlos Rogers

L-R. John McCormick, Carlos Rogers, Phyllis Rodgers

L-R. John McCormick, Carlos Rogers, Phyllis Rodgers

HSR President Phyllis Rodgers and newsletter editor John McCormick verrry gratefully accepted a check this afternoon on behalf of the Society from Carlos Rogers, creator of the Historic Riverton Criterium  – our biggest contribution ever!

THANK YOU, Carlos!!

THANK YOU, Carlos!!

This evening, Phyllis messaged her fellow Board members the awesome news:

Hello Board Members,
Carlos just brought a check for his Criterium Donation—-$4,000!!!
Many thanks to Carlos for all his efforts.
The HSR is so lucky. Life is good in Riverton!
Best to all,
Phyllis

Yes, it is good, and Carlos Rogers is one citizen who helps makes this town the great hometown it is.

Carlos Rogers directs the action at the 6th Annual HRCriterium

Carlos Rogers directs the action at the 6th Annual HRCriterium

He has devoted hundreds of hours over the past year to stage and promote the biggest and best Historic Riverton Criterium yet, drawing competitors and spectators from all over.

The Historical Society of Riverton is pleased to have again supported the event this year and truly honored to benefit from Criterium proceeds.

Thank you, Carlos, for your tireless efforts in continuing to bring such an exciting cycling event to our town. Your incredible generosity toward the many individuals and local organizations you have given to since its inception has just been a bonus! – JMc

 

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Indexing Makes Genealogy Records Searchable Online

if you can read thisFamilySearch, the genealogy research part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a wonderful, free resource for those who are looking for family tree documents.  I have used the site and found information not otherwise available, so I have decided to do a bit of volunteer work for them in their upcoming Indexing Project.

I downloaded the software to my desktop, and completed the tutorial, both of which were simple.

The organization is looking for 72,000 volunteers to complete indexing, in English or other languages, for documents in the US or other countries, from July 15-17 (your choice of country and language).  You can index as much or as little as you like, but I think it could be addicting once you get started — not just for former librarians like me, but all who love to search and learn from historical documents.

For more information, our HSR members can go to the FamilySearch.org homepage and click on the indexing link, https://familysearch.org/indexing/

Regards,
Pat Solin

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Dig this

riverton history mystery (Copy)With the all those backyards, the former grounds of Dreer’s Nursery, and the banks of the Pompeston Creek and Delaware River at Riverton’s doorstep, an afternoon spent digging often yields treasures of all sorts – Indian arrowheads, milk and patent medicine bottles, flower pots, and such.

Last December, Jennifer Chapman exhibited treasures she found on the Delaware River along with graphic compositions that shed light on their history at Palmyra Nature Cove. Here are some pix I took of that incredible display of locally dug artifacts.

More recently, Matt Mlynarczyk, a Riverton ex expatriate now residing in Alexandria, VA sent in this information about a dug bottle. Gone from this area for over 25 years, he presumably found us online and presents this mystery. He writes:

Hello Friends,

I grew up in Cinnaminson and began collecting old bottles and beer cans in 1976; I left for college in 1984 and have lived in Alexandria, Va. since 1990.

macmullin dug bottle (Copy)I’ve attached a photo of a Riverton milk bottle that I have never able to find any information about; perhaps you know something about it.

It’s 7″ tall, with a slight hint of amethyst in the glass, marked ONE PINT, and the slug plate reads, MACMULLIN RIVERTON, N.J.; the base is marked T. MFG. C.

I dug this bottle during the summer of 1978 it in Riverton, N.J. where Broad St./River Rd. crosses the Pompeston Creek. There was construction there, and another friend/collector dug for about a week and came upon a treasure trove of Burlington County bottles; most dated from 1880-1910.

I would be happy to provide you with a more detailed photo for Gaslight News if you would like to publish it to begin a dialogue.

Best regards,
Matt Mlynarczyk

OK, kids. Any ideas on the story behind this MacMullin dairy bottle? Tell us about your dug finds. – JMc

Added 7/6/2016, sent in by Mrs. Pat Smith Solin, former Riverton School librarian who loves a puzzle:

I have not been able to locate the dairy, not in NJ nor in PA, but I think I found the manufacturer of the bottle.

Thatcher Glass Manufacturing Company (T. MFG. C) was in operation c.1904-1985, but “sold dairy-related products including milk bottles that were actually made by other glass companies (1889-c.1904).”  See this link.

http://www.glassbottlemarks.com/thatcher-glass-manufacturing-company/

Found Cole Dairy (of course), Bishop, and Harding, in Riverton, but no Macmullin Dairy, anywhere — not in NJ or PA.  I checked the US Census, and there were Macmullins’ in Riverton, and some in Philly, but none of the occupations corresponded to a dairy, or similar.

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Summertime evokes memories of Burlco’s Camp Lenape

BSA Camp Lenape, Medford, NJ c1954 (Copy)BURLINGTON COUNTY BOY SCOUTS: CAMP LENAPE – 1943 to 1988

By Harlan B. Radford, Jr.

Fig. 1 1964 Camp Lenape patch

An official Camp Lenape patch that would generally be sewn on the uniform and worn on the front right pocket of the scout’s shirt.

The passage of time has not diminished my memories of the now-gone Boy Scout camp known as Camp Lenape in the Pinelands of Medford Township, Burlington County, New Jersey.

This personal narrative presents a blend of historical information along with my own recollections. Doubtless, during its forty-five year existence, the Camp Lenape experience helped shape the lives of the men they were to become for thousands of young scouts. One wonders where they are now.

detail, Medford Lakes quad mid-1950s

detail, Medford Lakes quad mid-1950s

Founded in 1943, the very year I was born, the Burlington County Boy Scout Council in Mount Holly acquired a 419-acre tract of land primarily for providing a site for area Boy Scouts to attend a summer camp in a somewhat wilderness setting.

Designated as the Camp Lenape Reservation, it was named after the historical local Lenni-Lenape Indian Tribe of the Delaware Nation. Camp Lenape was generally open for 6 to 8 weeks each summer.

In general, camping was considered an essential experience in order for boys to learn, develop, and embrace the key elements of the Scouting movement. Consequently, for the better part of three years, volunteers devoted their time, energy and resources to creating a scenic camp that would feature many important program areas.

Camp Lenape would soon proudly boast some eleven separate campsites, each bearing the name of a particular type of tree such as tupelo, oak, and birch. Each campsite provided the following amenities: raised wooden platforms with spacious World War II canvas style wall-tents and cots set up for shelter and sleeping, facilities for washing and showering (cold water only), and latrines.

Ye Olde Swimming Hole, Camp Lenape, Medford, NJ c1954 (Copy)

Ye Olde Swimming Hole, Camp Lenape, postmark 1954

Several man-made lakes included a splendid waterfront for swimming, boating and canoeing. The cedar water bore a distinctive dark brown hue typical of lakes and rivers in the South Jersey Pine Barrens.

On a hot summer’s day scouts enjoyed a refreshing swim at “Ye Olde Swimming Hole,” pictured in this post card postmarked JUL 13, 1954. There were designated areas for the non-swimmers, the beginners, and the swimmers, and each scout received tests to determine their swimming ability.

The message to my parents in Moorestown I included on the above postcard in 1954, specifies one prized perk in passing such tests:

I sure am having a good time. Guess what. I just passed my swimmer’s test. Now I can dive off the diving board.

In 1955, my letter home from camp announced news of my passing “the ordeal” of the Boy Scout swimming merit badge, while my 1958 dispatch reported that I was working on the Lifeguard Merit Badge.

Little did I realize it then, but achieving these childhood aquatic milestones would be the origin of my lifelong passion for the sport and eventually lead to participating in my high school swim team.

During the course of their week at camp, scouts received swimming instruction to learn to swim or improve their swimming. Water safety at this waterfront was paramount as there were lifeguards on duty and they used the so-called “buddy system.” Each swimmer would “check-in” with his buddy and together they placed their personal tags bearing their names on a Buddy Board upon entering the swimming area.

During each swimming session, the lifeguards would periodically blow their whistles whereupon all scouts had to immediately get with their partner in their designated ability area and hold their joined hands up in the air to be counted. Each scout was expected to be aware of, watch their respective companion, and keep in near to one another for safety sake. The paired scouts were then counted and checked against the Buddy Board and the corresponding number of paired buddy tags. Once lifeguards accounted for everyone, they allowed the campers to resume their swimming.

This great system fostered safety in the water. Should a scout ever be in need of help or assistance for some emergency, certified life guards each with long bamboo poles or other lifesaving equipment could respond, act quickly, and reach the swimmer.

In addition to swimming, there were also opportunities scheduled for supervised boating (using rowboats) and canoeing. Again, all scouts took tests in the proper and safe use of such watercraft. No wonder the waterfront was such an important activity focal point for the young scouts at Camp Lenape.

Memorial Dining Hall, Camp Lenape, postmark 1954

Memorial Dining Hall, Camp Lenape, postmark 1954

Another focal point was a large dining hall, which could accommodate some 260 scouts and their leaders. The dining hall boasted an impressive indoor fireplace as well as an outdoor fireplace.

This postcard from camp mailed by me on JUL 20, 1954, depicts the massive fireplace inside the “Edward A. Mechling Memorial Lodge.” Built in 1943, this so-called “lodge” became the very first building, which served as the camp dining hall. The rocks used to build this fireplace came from the Delaware River.

Nature Island, Camp Lenape, postmark 1954

Nature Island, Camp Lenape, postmark 1954

Another camp feature included an informative Nature Island with cages containing many small animals and even terrariums for growing plants. An area provided a rifle range and archery practice area.

Postmarked JUL 14, 1954, this postcard shows the popular “Nature Island” at Camp Lenape. A young scout looks at some of the visual displays, posters and exhibits about plants and animals.  Today, we might refer to such an open-air facility as a “learning center.”

At the Trading Post, one could buy necessities and postcards to send home. Minor medical treatment was available at the first-aid station.

Salute to Old Glory, Camp Lenape, postmark 1954

Salute to Old Glory, Camp Lenape, postmark 1954

A general assembly area with flagpole, an outdoor campfire assembly arena with seating overlooking a lake, and a parking area somewhat removed from the camp itself completed the rustic setting.

“Salute to Old Glory,” postmarked JUL 21, 1954, shows scouts assembled and standing at attention for the lowering and folding of the colors at the end of the day. Scouts also assembled early each morning to pay their respects and salute the raising of the American Flag.

Prior to dismissal, leaders gave important announcements to the scouts at these times. The sound of “reveille” from the camp bugler roused the Scouts in the morning, and at the end of each day, the horn played “taps,” meaning day was done, lights out and it’s time to go to bed!

Camp Lenape, Troop 44, 1957

Camp Lenape, Troop 44, 1957

This photograph shows my Boy Scout Troop 44 of Moorestown during our stay at Camp Lenape in the summer of 1957.

My dad was Scoutmaster. I am in my green explorer uniform and wear a National Jamboree Patch received upon attending the National Jamboree held at Valley Forge earlier that summer – one of many that my mother stitched on my uniform.

Here are the names of people as I recall:  (back row from left to right) – RICHARD PAOLETTI,    ___unknown___, JOHN SCHANZ, HARLAN RADFORD, JR., RICHARD KALYN, AND HARLAN RADFORD, SR.;  (front row from left to right) – ___unknown___, TERRY DAVIS, ___unknown___, RICHARD BARTHOLD, ROBERT PATTERSON, JOHN PATTERSON.

I attended Camp Lenape summers 1954 -1960, often staying two weeks at a time. Upon graduation from college and no longer a scout, in the summer of 1966, I served on the Staff at Camp Lenape as the Aquatic Director for all programs and activities at the waterfront.  It would be the last time that I would be able to enjoy this wonderful camp.

In addition to summer camp, there were spring and fall Camporee events that generally lasted a week-end. Scouts learned to sharpen their pioneering skills such as cooking, knot tying, rope bridge building, plant identification, first aid, and hiking. Somewhat akin to the military, scouting had requirements for incremental advancement in rank. The names associated with those ranks start with Tenderfoot, then Second Class, First Class, followed by Star, and then Life, until one reached the highest and most esteemed rank in Boy Scouts, namely Eagle Scout.

There were many different kinds of planned activities and scouts were usually quite exhausted at the end of these busy camping experiences. In my view, the scouting movement was instrumental in fostering core values and life lessons regarding character development, leadership, doing service and good for others, and focusing on becoming better citizens!

Ironically, in the end, the very wilderness setting of lakes and natural pinelands that made Camp Lenape the extraordinary refuge it was, proved to be its undoing when it became a victim of urban sprawl during rapid land development in the 1980s.

In 1988, the Burlington County Council of Boy Scouts sold the 419-acre camp to a group of land developers (Philadelphia Inquirer, July 1, 1987) keen to incorporate all that greenery into a “new community of wooded estate homes” (Trenton Evening Times, April 22, 1990). By 1990, construction was well underway. (Trenton Evening Times, June 17, 1990)

Finally, let us fast-forward to today, 2016! You will be hard-pressed to find any vestige of Camp Lenape.

Gone are the waterfront as we knew it, Nature Island, the original dining hall, and campsites – replaced with luxury homes on cul-de-sacs, with amenities including a clubhouse, tennis courts, and fitness trails.  Today, a drive down Jackson Road to the former Camp Lenape site reveals the transformation of the once rustic site into prestigious suburban addresses now commanding half-million dollar price tags. (Zillow)

What do you recall about Camp Lenape? We welcome comments, first-hand memories, photos, or relevant maps, particularly of the layout of Camp Lenape.  Kindly contact the Historical Society of Riverton.

 

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