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 & – 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, 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:

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.!i=1898954095&k=cTrJjkm

See complete race results here:

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




Patrolman Thomas C. Whitelock Memorial Dedication – a photo gallery

Borough officials and the Riverton Police Association held a dedication ceremony on Saturday, June 2, 2012, for a granite memorial and plaque for Officer Thomas C. Whitelock who was killed in the line of duty in 1976. (see an earlier related post here)

These images depict members of law enforcement, Borough officials, and many area residents as they remember Officer Whitelock’s selfless act of heroism and dedicate a fitting memorial to his memory.

Read about the funeral of Officer Whitelock here – 1,000 police give comrade final tribute, Trenton Evening Times, January 21, 1976, pg. 29-30.

Thanks to Jim Quinn for permitting the use of his photos. – John McCormick,  Gaslight News editor

Stop by the Porch Club during the Garden Tour June 2 and check out the HSR display table

After the Thomas Whitelock memorial service on Saturday I expect to man a display table of HSR propaganda and information inside the Porch Club.  The display space there affords a chance to offer a wider selection of reproduction photo prints for sale than we are able to show at the New Leaf. If you ever have wanted a closer look at anything on the website it’s probably on my computer that I will have set up there so stop by and say hi.  – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

A truly historic ceremony tomorrow marks the dedication of Officer Thomas C. Whitelock’s memorial

Just as the Porch Club’s Garden Tour starts tomorrow at 10:00 a.m., another more solemn occasion gets underway at the Gazebo at Broad and Main.  

The Police Department and the Borough invites the community to the ceremony for the  dedication of the plaque mounted on a granite foundation which will serve as a memorial for Patrolman Thomas C. Whitelock, the seven-year veteran Riverton police officer who was killed in the line of duty Jan. 14, 1976. 

According to an article on Cinnaminson Patch, law enforcement from throughout the county, and dignitaries from the state, county and local government, will also be on hand as well as an Honor Guard and a  bagpiper.

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.  – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor



Save the Date – HSR Annual Meeting June 5


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

Historical Society of Riverton
POB 112
Riverton, New Jersey 08077

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

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