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.


Age of Flight resulted in transportation upgrade for Santa Claus

Santa on a biplane – Merry Christmas – vintage postcard

 

My aerophilatelist friend, Harlan Radford, Jr., sends us three more scans of vintage postcards as we anticipate the approaching holiday season.

 

In twelve seconds that changed the world in 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright achieved the first successful powered airplane flight and soon seized the public’s imagination with the new technology that gave birth to the Age of Aviation.

 

 

John Winsch designed Christmas postcard 1912

 

The homepage of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum says it best:

“The decade after the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk in 1903 witnessed a wide range of reactions to the new technology… The airplane had meaning for everyone—from popular enthusiasm for the pilots and their aerial exhibitions, to the commercial and military potential of aviation, to the broad cultural implications of flight, to the artistic expression it inspired.”

Why, even St. Nick would soon eschew his traditional sleigh with its eight flying reindeer and embrace the new powered flying machine as depicted on these early 20th century postcards. The mechanical powered flight by the two bicycle mechanics from Ohio inspired a public fascination with aviation, flight, and modern technologies which postcard artists of the era exploited to appeal to buyers.

John Winsch designed Joyful Christmas postcard 1913

 

Suddenly, postcard artists mixed the technological marvels of the day – dirigibles, hot-air balloons, and aeroplanes –  with traditional holiday iconography and Santa’s transportation choice received an instant upgrade.

On December 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright successfully flew their powered aircraft for 12 seconds above the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk, NC. IMAGE CREDIT: nasa.gov

 

Come back next week to see more vintage Santa postcards with an aeronautical theme courtesy of collector, Harlan Radford, Jr.

– John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

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Sunday, Nov. 11 ceremony to install more names to Riverton’s Honor Roll

US Department of Veterans Affairs poster for 2012

The Borough of Riverton will hold a Veteran’s Day ceremony at the Riverton War Memorial on Sunday, November 11, 2012, at 11 a.m.

The Riverton Military & Veterans Affairs Committee will add the following names of veterans to the memorial: Elton Catoe, Donald D’Amato, Alfred W. DeVece, Paul M. Hoad, William Ulrich, Anthony R. Wellens and George J.Mack.

The Historical Society of Riverton thanks all veterans for their service and is proud to exhibit the Riverton Veterans Honor Roll Album, a 55-page virtual scrapbook full of veterans’ service photos, news clippings from the hometown New Era newspaper, period advertisements,  wartime posters, ration stamps, etc. We ask for the help of our readers in getting more photos of veterans for this online tribute to our hometown heroes.

This poster comes from the extensive website of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Have your kids ever asked you what the difference is between Veterans Day and Memorial Day? Or how either one started? Do they get mixed up about the different conflicts in which America has been involved – WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam, Gulf War, Global War on Terror?

screenshots of various pages from the USDVA Teacher Resource

Do not assume that this USDVA Teacher Resource Guide is only for schools. There is plenty in it that may help a parent explain the legacy of Veterans Day, why we celebrate it, and how to properly thank our Nation’s servicemen and women for their sacrifices. Over twenty Student Resource pages include topics about flag etiquette, America’s wars, essay contests and scholarships, and for younger children, a play, coloring pages, and a maze.

There is probably some material in there for which we adults might learn or perhaps need some refreshing as well. The Veterans History Project  on page 11 which features oral histories of veterans intrigued me.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Riverton Military & Veterans Affairs Committee should contact Mayor Wm. C. Brown, Jr. or Robert E. Smyth through contact info you can find on the Riverton Borough webpage. Visit our Riverton Veterans page for past posts about our veterans.

We hope to see you on Sunday. Is there any doubt whatsoever that the freedom we enjoy today is the direct result of the sacrifice of generations of veterans throughout our Nation’s history? – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

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Frankenstorm ravages Riverton and postpones Halloween

This Clapsaddle card of a scared little boy that was reading ghost stories was postmarked on Halloween of 1912.

The century old postcard at left, courtesy of Moore’s Postcard Museum, is one reminder of how children of 1912 viewed All Hallows’ Eve and its still relatively new tradition of knocking on doors and asking for food or money that became known as “trick or treating.”

Kids of today will remember 2012, if for nothing else, as the year that Hurricane Sandy hijacked Halloween. Or at least, derailed it for a couple of days.

Governor Chris Christie signed an executive order on Wednesday, October 31, postponing Halloween until Monday, November 5.

The Governor’s order notwithstanding, the Palmyra Halloween Parade facebook page says that the parade will start today, Thursday, and the Riverton Borough facebook page has trick-or-treating slated for tomorrow, Friday.

Riding out Hurricane Sandy – Monday, 10/29/12 at 3 pm

After hearing from friends in Riverton and trading stories about how we weathered the storm, I post the following images, more for the benefit of those expatriated Rivertonians who wonder how their old hometown fared.

The image at right, from Riverton Yacht Club’s website, shows white-capped waves slamming against the dock leading to the historic Club House on the Delaware River. Note the debris on the grass above the river wall. If any reader knows the greatest water level that Sandy caused here, please advise. It must be historic.

View from the RYC Club House by Mark Horger

Mark Horger: This is when I was leaving, Harry and I were upstairs for an hour. 10/29/2012 3:51PM

View from upper level of RYC by Mark Horger

RYC member, Mark Horger, took some remarkable photos and posted them on facebook as the storm bore down on the riverbank, eliciting several “likes” and one expression of being lucky to have come out of it well.

According nj.com, the state climatologist at Rutgers University, David Robinson, called Sandy the worst storm New Jersey has seen.

 

We welcome any sailor’s observations or comments on the effects of the storm on Riverton in general, or specifically on the Yacht Club and the boat fleet.

 

Paul May on Cedar Street 10-30-2012 by Susan Dechnik

The treees missed the cars and our house! – Susan Dechnik

uprooted trees at riverbank by Susan Dechnik

aftermath of Sandy by Susan Dechnik

near Tenth and Main by Susan Dechnik

near Tenth and Main by Susan Dechnik

Sandy’s aftermath by Susan Dechnik

uprooted tree by Susan Dechnik

Judging by these images sent in by Mrs. Susan Dechnik, Sandy diminished Riverton’s  2,474 tree census figure a bit.

 

She reported that a large tree fell near Tenth and Main and she lost a favorite weeping cherry tree in her own back yard on Cedar Street.

 

 

She counts herself lucky that it fell away from the house and downed trees on Cedar missed her parked cars.

All told, that is enough scariness for 2012.  If this week simply goes down in history as the week that Halloween got postponed, then we can surely can count ourselves fortunate.

 

Trees can be replaced, broken roofs and windshields repaired, but keep mindful of the many who have suffered devastating losses to homes, business, and lives as a result of this history making storm. The hurricane that some called Frankenstorm turned out to be quite a monster, indeed.

The American Red Cross has a huge relief response underway to Sandy, providing thousands of people across several states with shelter, food, and comfort during this difficult time. You can make a financial donation by visiting www.redcross.org, by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

We welcome your observations and comments and appreciate any note of an error made here.

– John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

 

 

 

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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

 

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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

 

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