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.


Save the Date – HSR Annual Meeting June 5

Friends:

Our Society’s Annual Meeting is next Tuesday June 5th at 7pm in the Riverton Public School.

Please join us for a brief business meeting followed by the new Historic Riverton Walking Tour
led by board members Pat Brunker and John McCormick. We will end our walking tour at
Nelly Bly’s Ice Cream Parlor for refreshments.

Gerald Weaber will lead a companion tour for residents of Riverview Estates beginning at 7:30pm
via van. We still need one other volunteer to co-lead our van tour.

Please call me at 856-786-6961 if you are interested in joining us for the Historic Walking Tour
or wish to serve as a volunteer to co-lead our van tour with residents from Riverview Estates.

HSR President Gerald Weaber

Gerald Weaber
President

Historical Society of Riverton
POB 112
Riverton, New Jersey 08077
856-786-6961

www.rivertonhistory.com

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Journal of the NJPHS makes us look good; Intriguing photos of an old safe may lead back to a post office – but which one?

RPPC Riverton Post Office, 609 Main St. IMAGE COURTESY OF: Doug D'Avino of http://www.njpostalhistory.org

Readers of the Feb. 2012 Gaslight News and this blog may recall the articles about the many and varied incarnations of Riverton post offices. In the course of researching the articles, I crossed paths on the Internet with Doug D’Avino of the New Jersey Postal History Society  (NJPHS), and we commiserated on the difficulty of coming up with fresh newsletter content. We concocted a bargain in which he helped us by providing some facts and a vintage photo and we sent him our long-play version of Special Delivery–Riverton’s United States Post Office for use in his organization’s newsletter.

Front page of the May 2012 NJPHS Journal - the HSR is in good company here. Jean Walton put a good face on our work with her superb layout.

 

 

 

Jean Walton, the NJPHS Secretary, just sent me the link for their 60-page May publication. This prodigious award-winning quarterly journal explores the many aspects of New Jersey postal history. This issue includes a wide range of articles, both long and short, touching upon the broad range of our State’s postal history.

Our article is only a fraction of this fascinating  issue which  investigates a variety of themes including:  From Guadalcanal to the Garden State; Women’s Suffrage in New JerseyEarly Scouting Post Cards Posted in New Jersey;  NJ Central Hauls the MailTitanic Mail Clerk John Starr March, and much more.

 

As the interests of  the NJPHS and some readers of of this may intersect, I bring this to your attention should you want more details about their organization, meetings, and projects. Click here for membership information.

Here’s one of their projects…

If you have a postcard depicting any New Jersey post office not already displayed on the Post Offices of New Jersey photo gallery, look on page 64 (actually the fourth page; this issue starts with page 61) of the May 2012 NJPHS journal.

And one more…
The NJPHS will hold its annual meeting over this Memorial Day Weekend at the Annual Exhibit of the North New Jersey Federated Stamp Clubs, Inc. (NOJEX 2012) on Sunday, May 27, 2012, in Secaucus, NJ. The three-day event is  appropriately billed as “A World Series of Philately Exhibition.” Details here.

Finally, I find that collaborating with persons across the miles often helps fill in missing pieces of our own history puzzles. In communications with Jean Walton, layout editor for the NJPHS, she told me about a man who inquired of their organization last May hoping to find the story behind a Mosler safe he had acquired.

Mosler safe from a Riverton post office. But which one?

“I have an Mosler antique postmasters safe from the late 1800’s. Please help me find out information about it, ” he implores.

He adds:

It is about 5 1/2 ft tall x 3ft x 3ft.    It weighs thousands of pounds.    I think it may have been painted by a famous painter. The inside has the signatures of the old postmasters.     I think it may have been painted by a famous painter. The inside has the signatures of the old postmasters.  It says iverton, NJ   Was there ever an iverton post office or was it originally Riverton? I am trying to put together the history of the safe. Is there a list of old postmasters?   The safe is very interesting and I thought your association would be interested in knowing about it. Please write back   Thank You  – GK

Jean was unable to give a definitive answer at the time, other than to offer that it was indeed from Riverton. She kindly passed along to us what she knew and hopes that we may succeed in getting an answer. It is nice to know that I am not the only one with a lot  of incomplete open files of information that I mean to get to one day.

If any reader has a clue about this safe, please send your thoughts. Seeing that list of postmasters would help narrow down things, but I have not yet been able to contact the person I only know as “GK.”

I love a good puzzle, don’t you. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor


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A peek inside Christ Church on Treasure Day

Interior - Christ Episcopal Church, Riverton, NJ

Last week my wife Linda and I browsed among the many yard sales during Riverton’s annual Treasure Day.  As we passed Christ Church I noticed that the early afternoon sun might afford me the right light to finally capture the Tiffany stained-glass rose window with my camera. The exterior view gives little clue to the luminosity and spectacular color of the Tiffany, in particular.

Tiffany rose window

While these pics are not art quality, they may be the thing to “take you back” if you are one of those Rivertonians who has moved away from your hometown.

While we’re on the topic, I posted scans of a 1978 Burlington County Times article (2 parts) about the Tiffany window in the photo gallery below.

Finally, I went right to the source for the best photos and information about all the stained-glass in Christ Church–the church’s website, http://christriverton.org/  Here is a PDF that has plenty of historical information about the windows and excellent professionally produced photos.

 

If you have been away for a while, what else about Riverton would you like to visit through these pages?  – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

 

 

 

 

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Take a virtual drive down Riverton’s Main Street to see the locations of the post offices

Here’s my first attempt at posting a Google custom map. This one is about Riverton, of course, but the theme is Riverton Post Office Locations.  Click on the link and that should open a new window to a Google Maps page that shows the eight locations of the US Post Office in Riverton over the years.

A blog posted on May 2, Special Delivery – Riverton’s United States Post Office, has more information about those eight locations of Riverton’s post offices.

Left-mouse-click on an icon to see a caption box pop up.

Icons on the map show addresses for each post office, and clicking on each one pops up a box with a caption.

Its navigation works like any other Google Map for moving, zooming, and toggling between views – Map, Satellite, or Earth.

But the biggest break I got was that all eight post office locations are along Main Street which was captured with the 360-degree, panoramic, and street-level imagery called Street View.

Grab pegman with your mouse cursor, drag him over to a Main Street location, and release.

To view street-level imagery in Google Maps, click and drag Pegman to the place you want to see.

When dragging the pegman icon, blue lines on the map showing Street View imagery will appear. If you do not see blue lines appear it is because that road was not photographed in Street View; pegman will not “stick” to such streets.

Google Street View - 304 Main Street

As long as you are here, you might want to look around your old hometown. Just know that Street View is only enabled for Main Street, Broad Street, and 7th.

– John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

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Borough plans Memorial Day service Sunday, May 27; More Vets’ names to be listed on Honor Roll; Whitelock Memorial June 2

In March 2012, we received this gratifying email from the son of a Riverton military veteran.

From: Martin Edsell
Sent: 03/09/12 04:19 PM
To: rivertonhistory@usa.com
Subject: veteran photo – Gerard Clark Edsell

Gerard Clark Edsell

Dear Mr. McCormick,
I enjoy reading the many articles you write for the Historical Society of Riverton (found online at:  http://rivertonhistory.com/ ).

In the February issue of the Gaslight News, you requested photos of servicemen and women to match with the names on the Riverton War Memorial. My father’s name (Gerard Clark Edsell) was added to the Memorial in a ceremony last Veteran’s Day (11-11-11).

Attached are two photos of my father, either of which you may use in your online Honor Roll Album.

During World War II, my father was a Technical Sergeant in the U.S. Army Signal Corps.  From Nov. 1940 until Dec. 1945, he was stationed both stateside and on various islands overseas (Guadalcanal, New Caladonia, Bouganville, Mumda, and Manilla).

A resident of Riverton for over fifty years (from 1950 until his death in 2003), my father along with my mother (Eileen) raised seven children in the town. All of us have fond memories of growing up there.  Though the last Edsell moved out of Riverton just this past December, we can all continue to follow your articles online.

Mr. McCormick, thank you for your good work in keeping alive the history of our town and in helping to honor our veterans.

Sincerely,
Martin Edsell

Shortly afterward, I updated the online Riverton Veterans Honor Roll Album. With Memorial Day just two weeks away, this is a good time to renew our request for readers to supply us with photos of Riverton service men and women to match with the names on the Riverton War Memorial. The Borough website has information about how to verify eligibility.

Citizens assembled on Memorial Day 2011, a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service.

Mayor Bill Brown recently wrote to let us know that the Memorial Day service will be held on Sunday, May 27, 2012 at 10:30 a.m.  The Riverton Military & Veterans Affairs Committee will add the following names to the Veterans Honor Roll that day:

Armand J. Bianchini Joseph A. Creighton, Jr. Robert I. Heck
George E. Horner Jr. Donald R. Hubbs Elwood C. Johnson
John S. Latimer Joseph Matera Bryan H. Norcross
Frank C. Quattrocchi Richard W. Schwering Monroe O. Steedle
Donald R. Taylor Thomas C. Whitelock

Officer Thomas C. Whitelock

Military veteran Thomas C. Whitelock (listed above) will also be honored with a memorial of another kind on Saturday, June 2, 2012.

On Jan. 14, 1976, the seven-year veteran Riverton patrolman was killed in the line of duty as the result of responding to a call of a suicidal man in an apartment on Lippincott Avenue.

The Police Department and the Borough invites the community to the plaque dedication ceremony to honor Patrolman Whitelock’s heroism at the corner of Broad and Main Streets near the gazebo on Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 10:00 AM.

The Riverton Borough website has more information about Officer Whitelock and the ceremony here.

Burlington County Times staff writer Matt Chiappard relates more details of this tragic story in an article titled, “Decades later, a fitting memorial for a fallen Riverton officer”.

If you wish, you may join others who have left a reflection on the Officer Down Memorial Page.

To make a donation to the Thomas C. Whitelock Memorial and its maintenance, contact the Riverton Police Association, Attn: Memorial Fund, 501 Fifth St., Riverton, N.J. 08077.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs posts a straightforward answer to the FAQ (frequently asked question),

Q. What is the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day?

A. Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty.

It is our privilege to devote part of rivertonhistory.com to honor Riverton veterans. It is a small, symbolic way say to all service men and women in the armed forces, “Thank you for your service.”

Maj. Gen. John A. Logan

Did you know that Memorial Day had its origin with the observance of placing flowers on the graves of Civil War dead? Dozens of communities throughout the North and South claim to have started the ritual that came to be called Decoration Day, but it was Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, the head of an organization of Union veterans, who issued General Orders No. 11 with these eloquent words:

The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country…

… Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

vintage Memorial Day postcard from Moore's Postcard Museum

The restoration of the Riverton War Memorial and grounds to a place of solemn beauty along with the recent effort to recognize veterans who served during other conflicts in addition to World War Two seem to have turned back the clock to a former time.

On a day seen by some communities as simply part of a three-day weekend that heralds the start of summer, Riverton shows that Memorial Day is a sacred day of remembrance to honor those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms.

Consider stopping by the Memorial on Sunday, May 27, and at the gazebo at Broad & Main on Saturday, June 2, to remember our veterans and a police officer, without whom, the pages of history would tell a much different story.

– John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

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