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.

Anne Knight Ruff passes after long illness; memorial service Saturday, April 6, 2pm


Anne Knight Ruff, c. 2001

Elsie Waters points to their grandfather Charles Wright's home as her cousin, Bay Ruff, depicted it on this panorama view of Riverton's Bank Avenue.

Elsie Waters points to their grandfather Charles Wright’s home as her cousin, Bay Ruff, depicted it on this panorama view of Riverton’s Bank Avenue.

We were saddened to hear that after a long illness Anne Knight Ruff (known by all as “Bay”) passed away on March 19 at the age of 92.

Her cousin, Elsie Showell Waters, extends an invitation to attend a Memorial Service on Saturday, April 6, 2013, at 2:00 p.m. at Westfield Friends Meeting, 2201 Riverton Road at Route 130, in Cinnaminson, NJ 08077.

Westfield Friends School Headmaster, Mr. William Probsting reports that friends and family who have been the recipients of many of Ms. Ruff’s works of art may bring them to display during the service.

Much  of Bay's art is executed in found or recycled materials. Can you tell of what these members of a   Quaker meeting are made?

Much of Bay’s art is executed in found or recycled materials. Can you tell of what these members of a Quaker meeting are made?

Regular visitors here have already seen one example; our masthead banner is a photo of one of Bay’s marvelous folk art style paintings on wood; this one, I believe she salvaged from a door.

This links to our page in which we acknowledge Ms. Ruff’s generosity for allowing us the use of her art to welcome readers to our website.

William Probsting wrote the marvelous profile of Anne Knight Ruff that appeared in the 2002 Riverton July Fourth Program when the town honored her as the Parade Marshal.

At age 81, she authored a book of stories about growing up in Riverton that grew out of the weekly gatherings of the Friday Ladies, a group she was invited to join.

Friday Ladies -Toby, Norma, Bay, Ruth, June, Nell, Elsie, Betty

Friday Ladies -Toby, Norma, Bay, Ruth, June, Nell, Elsie, Betty

Read more details about Anne Knight Ruff’s life and how the book came to be in this 2002 New York Times interview by Jill P. Capuzzo: “IN PERSON; A Born Storyteller, She Took Her Time”

We invite comments and the submission of photographs of anything pertinent to Bay’s life, writing, and art, and many other interests. Contact us if you need assistance. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor


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A basketful of treats for you

Riverton_Easter_BunnySomebody stopped by with a basketful of eye-candy for our viewers – five vintage postcard images of Camden, Moorestown, and Riverton.

I guess it depends on your definition of eye-candy, but for us history sorts at these are a welcome treat.

And it is nice to have someone with which to share these goodies.

The first one comes courtesy of Ed Gilmore, HSR Board member and a frequent contributor to the archives. I have an image of this scene I scanned from one of Betty Hahle’s postcards, but the card was almost ripped in half and I painstakingly did some photo restoration on it.

Porch Club c. 1915

Porch Club c. 1915

However, this 1915 postmarked card of the Porch Club is in very good condition. The writer tells Jenny in Tuckahoe that “We took a walk by this place this morning and have been out in the Auto 3 times it is lovely and a very pretty place.” The Porch Club, founded in 1890, had only just built their new clubhouse in 1909.

Forks of Road, Moorestown, NJ c.1907

Forks of Road, Moorestown, NJ c.1907

The next one is a very familiar scene to collectors of Moorestown postcards. Forks of Road is one of the most popular subjects for picture postcards.  Just when I thought my friend Harlan had every variation on this theme, he surprised me with this recent acquisition, a 1907 Moorestown post card – Forks of the Road – King’s Highway, or Haddonfield Road, and Camden Avenue.

Camden Bailey St West of 6th 1909

Camden Bailey St West of 6th 1909

Harlan Radford is another frequent flier here who has generously shared many scans of his vintage postcard collection to help build this virtual image archive.

This marvelous real photo postcard of Camden, NJ shows that an early 20th century Bailey Street neighborhood certainly had its own version of a Glorious Fourth.  Medford photographer Wm. B. Cooper produced the postcard, postmarked in Camden on July 8, 1909.

Main Street, Riverton, NJ 1908

Main Street, Riverton, NJ 1908

Occasionally when the eBay power bidders are on a break I get lucky and win an auction bid. Such was the case with this next pair that I won within the same month.

Collecting scenes of Main Street in Riverton is like eating potato chips. You can’t just quit with one. We already display several on our images page, but I was delighted to see this “new” card with an April 6, 1908 postmark come up for auction.

Palmyra photographer Howard E. Powell captured this tree-lined view that he captioned, “Main St., Riverton, N.J.” The message, “Arrived home safe,” assures Mr. Langham, the Hammonton recipient, that “F” is alright.

The Divine Place - Riverton

The Divine Place – Riverton

The last one in this basket is a real photo postcard view of the riverbank postmarked July 13, 1906. The card writer tells “Tex, dear” in Houston that “…This is the divine place.”

We have to agree.

Please, be on the lookout for more “new” vintage images of the area that you can help us share with others, and add a comment if you know more about a topic.

– John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

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Whither Spring?

Whither Spring 3-25-13

Whither Spring 3-25-13

Whither spring? Punxsutawney Phil announced on Twitter February 2 that spring would arrive soon.  Well, it kinda did with some teasing spells of 60 degree highs a couple of weeks ago, but then spring got snatched away again when we woke up to this “wintry mix” on March 25.

Those poor droopy daffodils on Cedar Lane must be so confused.

The first official spring forecast from Gobbler’s knob was made on February 2, 1887. Since then, the Punxsutawney Groundhog has announced his weather prediction around the world each year through newspaper, radio and television coverage, as well as being recorded in the Congressional Record. Now he even has a website and has a Facebook page.

Confused Daffodils on Cedar Lane, 3-25-13

Confused Daffodils on Cedar Lane, 3-25-13

But this year it seems every one is piling on Punxsutawney Phil for getting it wrong. NBC News reports that the Butler County Prosecuting attorney filed court papers this week indicting the world-famous groundhog for “misrepresentation of early spring.”

Those deluded narcissuses probably thought it was safe for them to start developing after having waited all through their winter dormancy being sustained off the stored food reserves in their bulbs.

Gradually, the soil’s moisture and increasing warmth triggered the hardy monocots to push up above the ground those first tentative shoots two weeks ago.

vintage_Easter_eggThey thought it was safe to develop foliage and blooms.  See what it got them.

I will view future Groundhog Day predictions with skepticism and I am definitely hoping that we can place more store in the Easter Bunny.

I heard he will soon deliver a basket of eye-candy for history lovers in the form of several rare real-photo vintage postcard images for Riverton, Moorestown, and Camden.

Sorry, for being a bit dormant myself.  – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor



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Find out what it’s worth at the Riverton Antique & Collectible Fair Saturday, March 2

antique fair 2013 graphicIf you have ever wondered about the value of an old painting, sampler, hooked rug, vase, set of dishes, sterling flatware/hollowware, oil lamp, mantle clock, cut glass pitcher, early tops, tree ornaments, quilt, needlework,  valentines, family bible—the list goes endlessly on—come to the Riverton Antique and Collectible Fair co-sponsored by the Historical Society of Riverton and Riverview Estates.

Veteran Personal Property Appraiser, Ronald Shaffer, ISA will be present to evaluate heirlooms and offer a Verbal Opinion of Value. Be prepared for his witty and informed banter as he speaks about each piece.

Please note — so you will not be disappointed — Mr. Shaffer claims no general knowledge of firearms, swords, jewelry or modern day collectibles.

Furniture items are always welcomed — if they easily transportable by the owner.  Photographs of items, too large to carry, are acceptable as long as they are clear, true views with sufficient detail.

Information shared by Mr. Shaffer is not intended as a certified appraisal but merely his opinion of the  history and value of an antique or collectible. We invite those needing a certified appraisal to arrange an appointment with Mr. Shaffer following the Antique and Collectible Fair.

At our last Fair participants were delighted to learn about Americana and decorative works of art including a collectible American silver water pitcher, silver table articles, flatware and tea service, earthenware, salt-glazed stoneware & porcelains, an enameled cameo glass vase, a signed 19th century color lithograph,  vintage model trains, an appliquéd quilt, carved and painted wood toys, military collectibles, a poplar slat-back armchair, burl wood bowl, and more.

Call Gerald Weaber at 856-786-6961 to reserve your seat for this popular event. Please leave your phone number and the number of items on which you wish to receive an opinion.

Our host, Riverview Estates, will have refreshments for sale.

Free parking is available on Lippincott Avenue adjacent to the entrance of Riverview Estates on 303 Bank Avenue. Click here for directions.

Well-known Philadelphia antiques expert, Mr. Ronald E. Shaffer, ISA, a graduate of the Philadelphia Museum College of Art, is President of Exemplars, Inc. of Philadelphia. Schaffer has been appraising antiques for many years and is a member of the International Society of Appraisers, an ethical appraisal organization which requires demonstrated expertise and ongoing training.

Mr. Shaffer has extensive experience in personal property appraising with particular specialties in American, English and continental furniture, glassware, china, paintings, silver, needlework, as well as hooked rugs, quilts, samplers and such textiles.

The author of numerous articles about antiques, he is a frequent speaker on the subject of Fakes, Frauds & Flimflams. He is in demand by historical societies and civic groups for numerous Heirloom Discovery events such as this. He is a docent at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a position requiring on-going intensive study.

You are certain to be informed and entertained by Mr. Shaffer as he speaks about his profession and offers his opinions of value for items brought to the event.  See you on Saturday. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor


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Don’t you just love British programs?

queen victoria_01Lady Sybil’s death on Downton Abbey Sunday night really had us depressed. We needed some cheering up.

A few of us Anglophiles tuned in on Thursday, January 31 to a program that was being shown for one night only. And we didn’t need cable to do it.

Fifty-one intrepid history lovers from the area braved the cold damp January evening to rub elbows with royalty as Alisa DuPuy, the cultivated first-person historical interpreter, brought her program about Queen Victoria to Riverton’s New Leaf Tea Room.

Her Highness shows a portrait of her beloved Prince Albert

Her Highness shows a portrait of her beloved Prince Albert

There could not have been a better venue for this intimate audience with Her Highness than in the century old Victorian building that is the home of Mrs. Phyllis Rogers’ elegant  yet cozy New Leaf Tea Room.

Guests at the Royal Reception helped themselves to an assortment of confections and cheese to accompany their freshly brewed tea.

Guests at the Royal Reception helped themselves to an assortment of confections and cheese to accompany their freshly brewed tea.

She spoke at length about her childhood, her life at court, her romance with Albert, and each of their nine children. I describe it so, because this was no talk given in the third person but an hour-long dramatically acted one woman play.

The performer so seamlessly incorporated solid historical research into her conversation that one could easily mistake the scene for a late 19th century lyceum lecture by a visiting head of state.

This one dressed to the nines and wore the family jewels. She brought family photos of Albert and the kids and her favorite dog. She utterly captivated everyone as she related so many dramatic stories in the life of England’s longest reigning monarch.

queen victoria_07

Find out more about Alisa DuPuy and the rest of the cast of characters that she portrays.

Check out The New Leaf Tea Room, a top ranked tea room by

A Word from Gerald Weaber, President of the Society:

Our appreciation to Phyllis Rodgers and her New Leaf Tea Room and Gift Shoppe for hosting the Historical Society’s Tea with Queen Victoria program. The Society welcomed both members and visitors for tea from Claymont, Delanco, Moorestown, Hainesport, and Laurel Springs New Jersey including Sharon Paden, Rosemary Flatley, Patricia Iannucci, Christine Maiorano, and Rosemarie Milza and friends.

gerald at the acme sepia smKudos to Alisa DuPuy for her flawless portrayal of Queen Victoria to the delight of the fifty-one guests at the New Leaf Tea Room. Join the Society as a member and enjoy programs like this and a subscription to the Gaslight News our fascinatingly written and illustrated newsletter by Editor John McCormick.

Annual membership is $15 per person or $20 for a household. Send your check to Nancy Hall, Historical Society of Riverton, P.O. Box #112, Riverton, NJ 08077. Thank you all for making our tea such a fun event in Riverton!

There is a photo gallery below. Please add any comments or send a photo and I’ll post it. Or, if you have a Facebook account, please”like” us and consider posting pictures and comments there.  The New Leaf  would welcome your shout out as well. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor



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