When World War I erupted in Europe in 1914, the majority of Americans favored neutrality. As German aggression developed, the U.S. later joined its allies –Britain, France, and Russia–on April 6, 1917, the to fight in World War I.
As the anniversary of the US entry into the conflict approaches, the HSR is preparing a series of articles to honor the service of its armed forces, as well as to depict what life was like in Riverton during the war.
We are asking for your help. While we have access to online resources, we are hoping that you, our readers, may have photos that can be scanned, stories that we can share, and letters from those Rivertonians who were dedicated to the cause during those years.
Can you provide any additional information, especially on Riverton’s Gold Star Boys?
As Riverton’s recent July Fourth Parade attests, it’s not a parade without the fire engines and the fire fighters.
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.”
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?
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 andNovember 2011 posts.
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.
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.
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!
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,
Yes, it is good, and Carlos Rogers is one citizen who helps makes this town the great hometown it is.
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
FamilySearch, 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.
With all of 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:
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.
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.
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.
BURLINGTON COUNTY BOY SCOUTS: CAMP LENAPE – 1943 to 1988
By Harlan B. Radford, Jr.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
In just two weeks, months of planning, prep, and fundraising by the tireless volunteers of the Riverton July 4th Committee will culminate with the arrival of the 119th Children’s Parade.
Part summer picnic, part homecoming, part testimony to patriotic pride, who doesn’t look forward to Riverton’s Glorious Fourth?
By now, Riverton households have received their July 4th Programs.
We hope you will frequent the many business and professional donors and appreciate the many patrons whose generous contributions continue to make this treasured tradition possible.
Even our own Society placed this ad with a not-so-subtle invitation to join.
We highlighted Mary Honeyford’s family photo used on the July 4th Program cover in our Nov. 2014 Gaslight News along with an ad we found in the April 7, 1949 edition of Riverton’s now defunct hometown newspaper, The New Era.
How many of you remember any of the car dealerships that once made their home in Riverton?
Here are two to get you started.
Finally, can you tell which 4th of July Showcase sponsor now occupies the site depicted in the postcard below?
During the recent Garden Tour and the Historic Riverton Criterium folks stopped by our table to check out the historically themed mugs.
Tethered to my workplace until 5PM that day I knew I would be unable to catch the arrival of the HRCentury riders, so I appealed to the Universe and it delivered in the form of this great pic of HRCentury creator Rob Gusky from Carlos Rogers.
Rob looks pretty fresh after biking a hundred miles from Millburn, NJ to Riverton.
Susan Dechnik sent in most of the following photos.
The ride took longer than anticipated since the cyclists ran into a punishing headwind for much of it.
Also conceived by Rob Gusky, the 3-Mile Community Ride was to follow the conclusion of this second realization of the Historic Riverton Century, and many residents of all ages awaited in the former District parking lot.
Meanwhile, HSR member Susan Dechnik handed out souvenir buttons bearing Anne Racioppi‘s imaginative logo and explained the connection to the 1895 NYC-Riverton Relay Race to those who were unaware.
The arduous trip caused the bicyclists to converge on the parking lot from different directions and not all at once.
Carlos Rogers congratulated Rob and the other riders. A cheer arose from the crowd as the Community Ride began led by the Century riders.
The ride ended with a ceremony at Memorial Park.
Mayor Suzanne Cairns Wells, Lifelong Wheelman Gary Sanderson and Riverton’s Town Historian Paul W. Schopp each addressed the audience and congratulated the athletes on their achievement.
In his address Mr.Schopp acknowledged that “…women have always maintained a keen interest in cycling and the mix of riders in today’s Riverton Century uphold the long legacy of female cyclists,” and described the 1895 Tri-State Relay Race which inspired Rob to create the Historic Riverton Century in 2014. Find a text file of his address here.
Attired in vintage wheelman gear and displaying his restored 1895 Indian Racer bicycle, Gary Sanderson described the adversity experienced by the riders in 1895 with traveling miserable roads on failure-prone single-speed bicycles. Read Gary Sanderson’s remarks here.
Mr. Gusky cited nonagenarian Bill Hall for his dedication to bicycling, and recognized Carlos Rogers for creating in 2011 the Historic Riverton Criterium which every year contributes money to local organizations and individuals. To date Carlos has distributed over $20,000!
Gusky called up the women participants in this year’s HRCentury and Phyllis Rodgers and Pat Brunker presented them and the men with sashes reminiscent of those worn by riders in 1895.
Later, many in the group met at Riverton’s Orange Blossom Cafe to eat and to recount details of their experience.
Everyone agreed that the two big bike spectacles now associated with the second weekend in June are community assets which combine to promote the sport of bicycling as well as provide family fun.
Perhaps it was the influence of the euphoria of a bicyclist’s high, but Gusky and Crew were already heard scheming to recreate the next ride.
Are you up for it?
Later on Facebook, Rob Gusky generously thanked the many people and organizations that made this year’s Riverton Century and Community Ride a success.
Century route planner Randy “Wheels” Jackson of the Major Taylor Cycling Club also wrote a lengthy Facebook piece recognizing those who had made it possible for him to “…relax and enjoy the ride.”
The creation of the Historic Riverton Century Ride by Rob Gusky and the Historic Riverton Criterium by Carlos Rogers now rank among the most treasured traditions of the Borough. The Historical Society of Riverton is privileged to be associated with them both.
Please add your own photos or submit comments. – JMc