A Riverton Fall Foliage Tour while waiting out the Frankenstorm

My friend, former teaching partner at Riverton School, and current stringer for the Gaslight News, Mrs. Susan Dechnik, sends us these recently snapped photos of Riverton just in case some of you out there forget how magnificent your favorite Tree City looks in the fall.

Retired now, but ever the creative writer, she includes this rhyme:

Fall comes to Riverton
wearing autumn’s hues.
The lens of a camera
offers up these views.

Here is an even dozen photos which may have to substitute for your Fall Foliage Tour of Riverton since it seems that Hurricane Sandy is going to keep us housebound for a couple of days.

The National Arbor Day Foundation has recognized Riverton as a “TREE CITY USA” for the past 24 years. Visit the Shade Tree Commission’s page on the Borough website to find out about the work of Chairman, Mr. Barry Emens, and the Shade Tree Commission.

If for no other reason, Hurricane Sandy should prove memorable (shall I say historic?) for the school age children of Riverton since classes have been already cancelled for Monday and Tuesday “due to inclement weather conditions.”

After a few days of being housebound, the kids will be ready to riot if there is no Halloween. The Palmyra Halloween Parade facebook page reports that the parade scheduled for Tuesday, October 30 (Halloween Eve), has been postponed until Thursday, November 1st.

Surely the Riverton parents’ phone lines will be busy tomorrow planning what to do and when to do it for Halloween.

When Hurricane Irene struck here in August 2011, I posted a column with some photos supplied by Susan and  Ivrie Myhre of cinnaminson.patch.com. I can pass along any photos or reports on how Riverton weathers the approaching Frankenstorm as long as my Comcast Cable and electricity hold out here in Delran.

– John McCormick, Gaslight News editor


Like Christmas in July

“Greetings to One and All” Christmas postcard designed by Ellen Clapsaddle, 1909, scan provided by Harlan Radford, Jr.

To a historian, getting another vintage postcard scan and seeing these photographs of old Riverton is like getting an early Christmas present.


A frequent contributor of many classic postcard scans to our virtual museum here at rivertonhistory.com, Mr. Harlan Radford, Jr. wired a handful of these holiday confections over the miles to us, and we will share one or two with you each week as we countdown toward the Yuletide season.

Last March, Henry Parrish Hackett, a website visitor in North Carolina wrote:

“Hi. I just discovered the Riverton History blog and I’ve been having a ball going through it finding family photos.”

Thanks to his incredible memory, he even advised us of an error we made in identifying a person in an old family photo belonging to Mrs. Nancy Hall. The man that she thought was her grandfather, Ezra Lippincott, was actually Ezra’s father-in-law. See the photo here with the corrected caption.

When Henry was in this area on business in July, he visited his cousin Mrs. Nancy Hall (their grandmothers were daughters of Ezra Lippincott), at the home in Riverton she shares with husband Bill. Henry had offered that I meet with them to discuss some photos that he sent ahead to me by mail so that I could scan them for the Society.

Henry, or Hank as he is known by family and friends, carefully chronicled the people, places, and things in each photo, often elaborating with an anecdote or a family tale that gave context to these century old images.


“The Chocolate Cake” – address unknown

Hank’s grandparents, Bertha Lippincott Parrish and Henry C. Parrish, started married life in this house they called “The Chocolate Cake.” Hank doesn’t know the address. Can someone help?




901 Thomas Avenue, corner of Shrewsbury



Ezra Lippincott built the house at 901 Thomas Avenue for them in 1904, and it was there that Bertha gave birth to three of their four children. Their first child, Dillwyn, was born at her father’s on the river bank.





The photos below include captions that came from Hank’s memories of his Riverton ancestors and relatives.

Best friends at Swarthmore



Hank’s grandfather is pictured in this old metal tintype. The caption on the envelope in which it was stored reads, “Best friends at Swarthmore” Walter Clothier, (L); Henry Parrish, (R). wearing boaters





Front porch of 901 Thomas, 1914
Bertha Lippincott Parrish, Henry C. Parrish, and daughter, Alice Parrish (Hank’s mother), on front porch at 901 Thomas Avenue, Sept. 1914.

Gathered around the Halls’ dining room table inspecting the photos that summer afternoon, we were all wondering about that item with the big cross on it.

Hank confirmed that the family was indeed devoutly Quaker and we wondered if they were involved in a war relief effort. They may well have been, but we cannot confirm it from this photo.

Red Cross Ad – The Westfield Leader, Weds Sept 16, 1914, p9

A subsequent google search of the phrase,”Neutrality in War – Humanity in Suffering” resulted in my conclusion that the item on the table is probably a newspaper advertisement with the headline,”Wanamaker Store is Closed Today – Labor Day” above the logo for the Red Cross with the slogan, apparently coined by John Wanamaker, used to appeal to the American people to contribute humanitarian aid for war ravaged Europe.

In 1914, America was still three years away from a formal declaration of war on Germany, but Philadelphia merchant John Wanamaker launched bold plans to help secure subscriptions and supplies from the public at official stations in his stores. The title of the publication on the table in the photo cannot be determined, but here is a similar ad that appeared in the September 16, 1914 issue of The Westfield Leader.



FOR SALE – 15 rms w/ river view – 303 Bank – Ezra Lippincott residence – note structures at rear of home that are not there today

Ezra Lippincott gave homes to each of his children in Riverton. His own home at 303 Bank later became the Baptist Home, or Riverview Estates, as it is known today.

Hank supplied this rare photo of his great-grandfather’s home when it was put up for sale after Ezra’s death in 1908. On the back it enumerated a long list of the estate’s features.

    • huge property which extended all the way back to Second Street
    • 15 large rooms
    • two bathrooms
    • butler’s pantry
    • 3 porches
    • conservatory
    • stables
    • tenant house
    • garden, fruit trees
    • beautiful outlook over Delaware River 
Baptist Home, undated chrome postcard


The Baptist Home, now Riverview Estates, as depicted on a an undated chrome postcard.




Kate McLyndon, Lippincot family cook
Hank explained that Ezra Lippincott built a cottage built on his property for Kate McLyndon, the household cook, and her husband, the coachman for the estate. A couple of family tales survive about the colorful Irish domestic. Mrs. Nancy Hall recounted one about Kate and some faulty Strike Anywhere Matches in the March 2010 Gaslight News.

Hank told us another about how Kate admonished the local priest who came to visit because he hooked his heels over the rungs of her brand new wood settee.

A caption on the back reads: “Kate McLindon, Cook at Ezra Lippincott’s family from around 1878? until 1902 or even longer as I don’t know year she came. BLP”




This gathering of possibly preteen girls with their doll babies took place on the porch of Ezra Lippincott’s home at 303 Bank Avenue. Left to right: Edith Coale, Alice Lippincott (Booth), Mary Lippincott (Griscom), Nannie Biddle, Anna Lippincott



Riverton Tea Party – Elsie Biddle, Frishmuth Twins, Bertha Lippincott


Hank guessed that this playhouse was probably located either at Ezra Lippincott’s, Frishmuth’s, or Biddle’s. Can any reader confirm?





Icebergs on the Delaware – Feb. 1900 – Bertha Lippincott, her dog Bevis, and her nieces Anna and Betty Miller

Few people today can recall seeing the Delaware River frozen over to the extent shown in this photo, captioned, “Icebergs on the Delaware.”




Chickens on 901 Thomas Avenue, Alice and Henry Parrish


Speaking of things of which today’s children might be skeptical, here is a photo showing chickens being raised at 901 Thomas Avenue with young Alice and Henry Parrish looking on.




901 Thomas Avenue
901 Thomas Ave. as photographed August 1936 by utility company

Two more pics of the Parrish homestead.





Finally, here are some more “recent” photos from 1945.

July 4, 1945 – Main Street Parade
July 4, 1945 Children at the riverbank
July 4, 1945 – Jimmy Hackett is in the sailor suit






A Merry Christmas – by H.I. Robbins, 1907

Like I said, it was like getting a Christmas present in July. Thank you, Henry Parrish Hackett, for this peek into your family photo album and the glimpses into Riverton’s past. And thank you to postcard collector Harlan Radford for these first two vintage Christmas postcard images in our weekly Countdown to Christmas.

As families gather and reminisce during the days ahead, see if your own family albums don’t have some views of old Riverton to share with your neighbors here at rivertonhistory.com.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, contributions, and appreciate  receiving corrections to anything that we have posted in error.

– John McCormick, Gaslight News editor


July 4th, 2012 Parade Highlight Reel

Here is a 7 minute: 48 sec. highlight video of Riverton’s Fourth of July Parade.   It is a big  WMV file  download and will take several minutes to download even with a hi-speed connection.

Note to self: Figure out how to provide streaming video for these big files.

I did not make it to the Raft Race or other activities in the park, but if you send me any stills or video,  l will try to post  them. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

Remembering Francis C. Cole

Franny Cole, Riverton’s 2012 July Fourth Children’s Parade Grand Marshal

We received the sad news recently from his lifelong friend, Mr. Carl McDermott, that Francis (Franny) Cole the subject of a Society oral history interview and the Grand Marshal of the 2012 July Fourth Parade passed away Friday, July 20. Franny was 91 and Carl had known him since he was eight years old.

I had known him for a fraction of that time, but was always touched by the warm personality, joy, and optimism of this extraordinary gentleman.

The obituary as printed in the Burlington County Times can be found here.

We reprise below references to Mr. Cole as found in the Gaslight News and this website.

Anticipation builds toward Riverton’s 115th Glorious July 4th – blog post

Gaslight News – February 2011 “Cole Dairy oral history video & Rivertonhistory.com – Mr. Francis Cole’s 31 min. video and hands-on tour of refurbished HSR website on next agenda”

Gaslight News – November 2010 “Cole Dairy, 5th & Main —Where Riverton ‘Got Milk'”

Here is the oral history we videotaped with Franny in 2010 in three parts, about 30 minutes total.  Mr. Francis Cole Remembers Cole Dairy Part 1Part 2Part 3.

Fran’s name is listed on slide #4 and a 1944 photo of him in US Army uniform is on slide #33. Click here to download the 51MB PowerPoint Slideshow of the Riverton Veterans Honor Roll Album.  – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor


Anticipation builds toward Riverton’s 115th Glorious July 4th

Bouquets of patriotic red, white, and blue decorations have burst into bloom this past week as Riverton readies for its 115th “Glorious Fourth.”

Patriotic displays have sprouted up all over town – Jim McQuaide, manager of Tristate HVAC, has decked out the landmark building for its first Independence Day under new ownership.
Now if the predicted thunderstorms will just hold off, the shoreline (shown above on July 2) should be awash in a flood of spectators viewing the Sixth Annual Great Riverton Raft Race at about 5:30 p.m. tomorrow.

2012 July 4th Program – Click on image to download PDF file of entire booklet
You can see the entire schedule of events in the 2012 July 4th Program found here. Click here for the official website of the July 4th Committee.

The cover illustration from this year’s July Fourth Program shows an image of the famous “Riverton Nine” baseball team of 1872 taken from the baseball memorabilia collection of Bob Beishline of Palmyra.



Bob Beishline’s original photo of 1872 Riverton baseball team
In  2002, Bob, Mike Robinson, Betty Hahle and a few others were among the first to help me start what has eventually grown into a huge virtual online collection of vintage images by kindly letting me scan their postcard collections.  


Bill Hall’s Sporting Life clipping
Later, Bill Hall provided me with a Sporting Life magazine clipping showing the same team. When I showed the photos during a presentation at a Society meeting, it was William Harris who explained the caption in the photo. FREDERICK K. MOORE CENTER simply meant that Moore was in the center.


“Frannie” Cole, 1938 Riverton Athletic Assn. baseball team

All of this concern about baseball is because Mr. Fran Cole, HSR member and lifetime resident of Riverton, who is Parade Marshall this year, used to be quite a baseball athlete and remains among the most fanatic of Phillies fans. He was even inducted into the Palmyra High School Sports Hall of Fame.

As a result of interviewing Mr. Cole about his memories as a young man working for his grandparents’ Cole Dairy during the 1930s, I had several photos of Fran from his baseball playing days. (See related 2010 Gaslight News story here and his oral history interview in three segments here:  Mr. Francis Cole Remembers Cole Dairy Part 1Part 2Part 3. )

Fran Cole – photo by Bennett Landsman


So by an extraordinary amount of luck and best laid plans we here at the Society just happened to be able to help out July Fourth Committee Chairperson, Mrs. Tracy Hansen Foedisch, when she asked for a hand with supplying some images for this year’s program booklet. It’s nice when we can help reveal some part of Riverton’s past with what we have collected. In a past post I compared the task to completing a jigsaw puzzle.

It is an extraordinary privilege, and no small responsibility, to be able to curate the archives of the Historical Society of Riverton for the use of Rivertonians.  As family and friends congregate during this July Fourth celebration, may I interrupt for a commercial message?

Please help preserve Riverton history by donating your Riverton related photos, collectibles, documents, and memorabilia, or at least send us a scan or photo. If you can help us in this endeavor, please contact us.

2012 July 4th Palm Card – both sides

During the parade HSR members Paul Daly, Gerald Weaber, and myself will be distributing this year’s edition of the Historical Society’s July 4th Palm Cards. The earliest one I have of these is from 1987. Former HSR President Dan Campbell may have started the tradition which  seems to have continued through 2004 when it apparently stopped.

We resumed the tradition again last year when HSR Treasurer Paul Daly wondered out loud, ” How come we don’t give out those cards on July Fourth anymore?”  (See more July 4th Palm Cards here.) If you have any cards for years not shown in this list, please send us a scan of both sides. July 4th Palm Cards: 1987-1990, 1993-1995, 1997, 1999, 2000-2004.

Tristate HVAC, a former post office, decked out for Independence Day
If you have some time to kill, type “July 4” or “July Fourth” in the search box at the top right of the home page. That should result in many hits for earlier posts and images related to the holiday.

Have a Glorious and Safe Fourth of July wherever you find yourself. Check back here later for more July Fourth posts.  – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

Walking Tour of Historic Riverton brochures are available at the New Leaf

The Historical Society of Riverton’s June meeting ended with a stop at Nellie Bly’s  Ice Cream Parlour. By the time members had covered on foot the route of a seventeen-stop walking tour, they were ready to sit down and relax with one of the shop’s refreshing treats.

We planned that last meeting before our summer hiatus as a practice run for the recently revised Walking Tour of Historic Riverton. (See related story here.) President Gerald Weaber called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Riverton School Media Center and dealt with several Society matters before adjourning to the outdoors.


The group watched a short slide show to introduce the planned activity–with a draft copy of the Walking Tour in hand, we were to hike the course and scrutinize it for errors of any kind so that we can get copies printed and make them available.

The link for the PowerPoint slide show is here.


Gerald hosted a parallel tour on a bus provided by Riverview Estates for the convenience of Riverview residents and any Society members who did not care to walk. Among the thirteen passengers was a 102 year-old former employee of Campbell’s Soup, a fact volunteered when the bus stopped in front of 308 Main, the former home of Joseph Campbell who founded that company.

Mrs. Pat Brunker, at left, directs the HSR flock along the Walking Tour route
Mrs. Pat Brunker directed the group on foot as we completed the circuit of seventeen locations that went along Main toward the river to Third, then went back toward Broad along Howard Street.

Mr. Renn at 410 Main
As our small but ardent force of curious sight-seers trekked from pillar to post, we were sometimes met by a quizzical homeowner who came out to see why all these nosy people were gesturing toward their house.

It was definitely an asset to have several new faces at this Walking Tour rehearsal because much of the history of these homes and structures in Riverton is oral history– stories and anecdotes passed down by word of mouth, that may or may not remain accurate with each retelling, and are seldom found in books or documents.

This post is a reproduction – not original to the home.
Jan and Dennis DeVries–their information helped to avoid errors on the Walking Tour brochure

You know the danger when one assumes? Homeowner Mr. Dennis DeVries explained that although the carriage mounting block at the curb was original to the house, the cast iron hitching post and fence posts were modern reproductions.  Mrs. Jan DeVries pointed out that Joseph Campbell built other homes for his children close to this one.



Mr. and Mrs. DeVries then invited us for an impromptu tour of their garden, a gesture most appreciated by anyone who missed seeing it on the recent Porch Club Garden Tour. (See related post here.)

This illustrates why the best authorities about these homes are the residents themselves as I found out when I spoke to Mr. Keith Betten previously while I tried to reconcile some contradictions between dates on house signs and dates on the old Walking Tour brochure.

404 Main (top) and 402 Main (bottom) have the same floor plan; 402 is oriented at a right angle to 404

Mr. Betten, the current owner of 404 Main Street, explained how he researched his deed and  that he had found the signature of Edward Pancoast, the home’s first owner, scrawled on a wall inside an upstairs closet.  I knew that Pancoast had designed and built 404 and 402 Main, but Keith showed me why his home and 402 Main, next door, are “sister” houses–the exteriors and roof lines may seem different, but the floor plans are identical. I had not seen that before.

As Mr. Betten invited me to see the splendid English garden at the rear of the home he explained that the driveway just outside the gate afforded Charles Flanagan, a later owner of the home, access to the Riverton Lyceum which once stood at Fourth and Main where he served as secretary and treasurer.

301 Main, the house where the Duster was born
Surely there are many more stories about Riverton’s people and institutions that are not well-known or recorded. When our tour patrol got to 301 Main someone in the group said that they thought a photo exists of that Duster being hoisted out of the third floor window. Now, that’s one I’d like to see!

Another one I heard the night of the meeting that I must try to verify was about a Riverton homeowner who cut into an interior wall in his house because he was perplexed that the wall dimensions did not make sense with the room, only to find a hidden liquor still within the space. Whaaaat???

Such stories only grow more faint with the passage of time.  If you would care to share any facts or stories which may help us in compiling information for other walking tours, please contact us with your ideas.

It turns out that the group did catch a few errors. After a few minor fixes to the text and renumbering several map locations we were ready to go to press.

You can see the finished result at the New Leaf where copies  of this first Walking Tour of Historic Riverton are available for $1.00. Other tours in the series will include Riverton Yacht Club and homes along the river, homes along Carriage House Lane, as well as locations south of the railroad tracks. We hope to design a separate children’s version and possibly offer a means for smartphone owners to access additional information from our website. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

Rev. Feb. 2016: The New Leaf no longer has copies. Check Riverton Library. Four years later, no more progress has been achieved on this since 2012. Big plans, not enough hands. – JMc






In case you missed it

In case you missed the bi-annual Garden Tour on June 2nd, sponsored by the Porch Club, you don’t have to wait two years for the next one because HSR President Gerald Weaber took these photos.

In advance of the Garden Tour, Christina Paciolla, a local journalist connected with CinnaminsonPatch, interviewed Rita Vittese and June Emens, co-chairs of this year’s event, about the eight private gardens on the tour. Her article, along with a map and descriptions of the garden locations, is found at this link.

Kristen Coppock, staff writer for phillyBurbs.com, questioned the Porch Club co-chairs about the prize-winning Ladies Garden Quilt being raffled off, and she also previewed three of the gardens and posted several photos. Find that complete article at this link.

As always, we welcome your comments and contributions. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

The Historic Riverton Criterium is on track to become a cherished Riverton tradition

What did you think of the bike race? Here are some stills and video clips that I took. Just google Historic Riverton Criterium to find many more on YouTube and elsewhere on the Internet.


Download and view a MP4 video clip here: 2012 Criterium Category 4 Race,  129MB, 2 min., 13 sec.

Category 4 is for riders in their first or second season with some experience.




Download and view a MP4 video clip here: video clip 2012 Criterium Masters 35+ Race,  92MB, 1 min., 32

The masters 35+ race is for riders in their first or second season with some experience.




Download and view a MP4 video clip here:  2012 Criterium Cat 1/2/3 Race,  88MB, 1 min., 31

This race is for riders with intermediate, advanced, or national-caliber skills and experience.



Here is a link for an article that appeared in the Burlington County Times: http://www.phillyburbs.com/my_town/cinnaminson/bike-racers-compete-in-second-annual-historic-riverton-criterium/article_50836510-dc9c-53d4-87f2-71e395a25293.html

Browse through photos taken by Christian Hochenberger, a Riverton resident and Photography Club advisor at Shawnee High School, and his student Connor Pagano. Any purchases made benefit the photo club. http://shawneephotoclub.smugmug.com/Other/Riverton-Criterium-2012/23493691_76LWf4#!i=1898954095&k=cTrJjkm

See complete race results here: http://www.usacycling.org/results/?permit=2012-567

There is plenty to see on the Historic Riverton Criterium facebook page. Say “hi” to the race founder, Carlos Rogers, and like, comment, or share while you are there so you get the scoop on the HRC 2013!

To find out more about earlier posts about bicycles as covered in the pages of this Historical Society of Riverton website, click here.  – John McCormick