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.


Only 27 more lost RPS 8th grade class pictures remain to be found

RPS Class of 1969 - scanned from Cindy Klabe Robertson's original

In anticipation of the 100th Birthday of the present Riverton Public School in 2010,  I collected scans of eighth grade graduating class photos that were missing from the display in the school hallway for several years and gave prints to the principal.

You would think that the school would have a record of all of those photos but, when I started, over half of the photos were missing. I appealed to HSR members in the Gaslight News to lend us their old school photos to scan, and Mrs. Mabel Kloos did the same during a presentation she made to mark the school’s 100th Birthday.

Just when I thought we had all the RPS eighth grade graduation pictures that we could find, Cindy Klabe Robertson brought this Riverton School Eighth Grade Class of 1969 photo to my attention. A few minutes of photo-editing restored the 43 year-old photo to mint condition. I gave an 8×10 inch print to Mabel to take into school the next time she went in to sub.

Years for which we still need RPS 8th grade class photos

Shortly afterwards, Mabel knocked on my door with a list of the remaining photos that are still needed for the school’s hallway display of eighth grade graduation photos. Please contact me if you can donate an original or loan one so that I may make a copy.

I still hold out the hope that some these photos will show up in an old family album, a forgotten trunk, or grandmother’s attic.

The pictures don’t have to be in perfect condition either. If you find one of the absent photos and it is showing its age, please don’t hesitate to contact me as I can often restore even torn and faded photos.

RPS Class of 1935 - original scan

RPS Class of 1935 - edit

Here’s one that was a particular challenge. The whole top part of the photo was gone so I borrowed a top from another similar picture and blended them together to make a passable photo of a Class of 1935.

As Betty Hahle so patiently pointed out to me in 1985 when Principal Rip Kilne was organizing the 75th Riverton School Birthday, the brick school that was built in 1910 was not the first Riverton School.

1903 RPS Grads, 1903-06-10, Philadelphia Inquirer, pg 3

Recently, I found this account of the RPS   Class of 1903 in a newspaper archive. So definitely please contact me if you find any class photos, graduation programs, newspaper articles, etc. about Riverton student activities prior to 1910 that you want to donate or loan for scanning.  - John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

 


 

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More of Clara’s postcards from near and far

Best Wishes 1909 postmark " I am in Colorado and wish you were here."

The majority of the over 200 postcards that once belonged to Miss Clara Yearly, Riverside, NJ,  date from the Golden Age of postcards, roughly 1907-1915–a time during which the sending and collecting of picture postcards became the rage.

The scans displayed here are a diverse mix of greeting and travel postals received by from Clara from nearby and far away.

Plain non-pictorial message postcards for simply sending correspondence had been around for some time, but the first picture postcards in the United States began with the souvenir issues sold at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Each postal had a picture and space for a message on one side, with the other side reserved for the address and cost only one cent to mail.

Philadelphia, Devil's Pool, Wissahickon 1906 both sides

The card at right is from a time when postal regulations required that only addresses be written on the back of the card. The 1907 postal rule change which allowed “divided back” cards and writing on back launched the Golden Age of Postcards. Divided back postcards came along later in 1907, with the image on one side and, on the other side, a section for a message and another for the address.

The divided back postcards allowed for short messages, not unlike the  text-based posts of up to 140 characters known as “tweets” posted by twitter  followers today. Many vintage postcards have very short messages or none at all, and some are “postally unused,” having never been mailed.

Mountain Scenic Railway, Willow Grove Park, PA 1907 front and back - 5 hours in transit - printed in Saxony, then a kingdom, part of the German Empire

Note the two postmarks on this divided back postcard. One postmark was imprinted when the postcard was mailed, canceling the stamp, and another was imprinted when the postcard was received. Do the math and you will see that the postcard left Willow Grove at 11 a.m. on Jun 1, 1909, and a mere five hours later landed in Riverside. Remarkable postal service for a penny!

Can any reader verify that back in the day (don’t ask me how far back) towns along the Delaware enjoyed two mail deliveries daily?

With the increased mobility brought on by the automobile, people traveled more and the penny postcards were an inexpensive alternative to telegraph or long-distance telephone rates for sending brief messages. Improvements in photography and printing technology, and the growth of a middle class with more money to spend on non-essentials are other factors that contributed to the picture postcard craze that exploded across America during the early 1900s. US Postal Service records show in 1908 that the population of 88,700,000 Americans mailed 677,797,798 postcards; that’s an average of over seven for every person!

Friends High School, Moorestown, NJ 1908 - Litho Chrome Leipzig Berlin Dresden

Germany had a lock on producing the finest quality color lithography postcards until the onset of World War I curbed the  civilian German printing industry. Most of this area’s superior color postcard views are consistent with this development, having postmarks before 1915.

In 1903 Eastman Kodak introduced a type of camera that enabled the public to take their own black and white photographs and have them printed on to postcard backs. Soon, Kodak and other manufacturers marketed more postcard format cameras, thus igniting the era of the real photo post card, or RPPC. Many RPPCs  instead have a sepia tone, and they may, or may not, have a white border.

These unique cameras had a small thin door at the rear that could be lifted to allow the photographer to write a caption on the negative with an attached metal scribe. Inexpensive to produce at the time, these real photo postcard views can be among the most costly and sought after ones by collectors because of their one-of-a kind nature.

RPPC - Woodside Park, Philadelphia, PA 1909

You can distinguish between a mass-produced lithography process printed postcard and a RPPC in a couple of ways. The  lithograph process produces the image as little dots, but the photo image shows no dots when viewed closely. In a RPPC, the image has smooth transitions from one tone to another. In addition, older RPPCs sometimes show a silver sheen in the darker areas when viewed at an angle due to the silver used in the early photographic process.

Woodside Park, Philadelphia, PA 1909 detail - silvering evident in dark areas of tree trunk

The detail of the RPPC of Woodside Park in Pennsylvania at right exhibits this silvering in the darkest parts of the tree trunk above the swan.

During this time, just about any town appearing on a map had an array of hometown views to represent it. Riverton’s population was 1,788 in the 1910 US Census, and it easily is depicted in over a hundred unique postcard views of which we are aware so far.

A town with numerous postcards of its landmarks, parks and public spaces, schools and churches, government and civic buildings, business establishments, and such could promote itself as a good place to work, live, and visit to outsiders. Persons passing through the towns picked up the inexpensive cards as souvenirs of their travels as well as for jotting off a quick message to the folks back home.

Happy Birthday 1907 - embossed card with gold ink

Just as today one might point to their number of Facebook friends or Myspace connections, it was fashionable in the early 1900s for families to have a postcard album proudly displayed so visitors could browse through their social network. Postcard albums were the “coffee table books” of that era. Except for a few images, these postcards are not views of Riverton, but are greeting and travel postcards that Clara Yearly received from her relatives and acquaintances.

Bird's -Eye View of Coney Island by Night 1906

Postcard recipients carefully preserved the cards sent by their friends and family in albums, and the senders had high expectations of receiving many in return. Several of the messages on Clara’s cards mention receiving a card or say “many thanks for your postal,” so we might infer that Miss Clara gave as good as she got.  If so, then there must be a lot of Riverton postcards out there from this young woman. 

State Capitol, Des Moines, Iowa 1907

Readers and visitors, know that the Society is fortunate indeed to have received so many wonderful donations over the years from generous people who have helped enrich our understanding of Riverton history with their gifts.

The many gifts of artifacts, collectibles, ephemera, vintage clothing, and scans of collectors’ postcards related to local history all combine to help to better achieve our mission to discover, restore, and preserve local objects and landmarks, and to continue to expand our knowledge of the history of the area.

Today, as in days gone by, a spirit of altruism and civic-mindedness continues to be part of what it means to be a Rivertonian.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have something you wish to add to this growing internet archive. We invite readers’ comments, corrections, and submissions of photos, articles, or research projects.  - John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

 

 

 

 

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Best Wishes from the Society

Best Wishes - undated

Whew! You’d be tired too if you just scanned over 200 old postcards.

Recently, Mary Yearly Flanagan emailed me and offered to let us display her family’s collection of vintage picture postcards.

Except for a couple of dozen postcards from the 1930s, it is an eclectic mix of greeting and travel postcards that her ancestor received from relations and acquaintances over a century ago.  We sincerely thank Mrs. Flanagan for generously allowing us to display her treasured family mementos.

A typical album for a postcard collection from the "Golden Age" of American postcards c. 1910. The album model is "The Ideal", and it was made by the J.L. Hanson Co., Chicago.

These penny postcards were the social media of the day and an easy and affordable way for folks to keep in touch.  During the so-called Golden Age of Postcards from about 1907-1915, people mailed them to friends and relatives, not just for special occasions, but also for everyday communication. Postcard sending and collecting became a huge craze and every household had its family postcard album out on display.

If you are a regular visitor to this website, then you already know that the massive photo and postcard collection shown on the Images page is mostly just a virtual collection. Of course we do have a physical photo archive, but it is a fraction of the size of the many hundreds of image scans shown on the Images page.

If you have historic photos or postcards. artifacts, ephemera, or collectibles please consider donating them to the Historical Society of Riverton. As an alternative, we also welcome scans or photos for our records if you are going to dispose of the items elsewhere.

Enjoy this first perfectly timed first installment–a handful of Easter postcards simply addressed to Miss Clara Yearly, Riverside, NJ, over one hundred years ago.  How extraordinarily lucky Mary’s family is that these “postals” (as the writers of yesteryear referred to them) have survived with their vintage images and endearing messages intact.

In this age of instant messaging, cell phones, and emails what evidence of our everyday images and correspondence will remain for future generations to look back upon a century from now? – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

 

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all; Join the fray and add your chapter to the Riverton Saga

vintage St. Patrick's Day card - image courtesy Moore's Postcard Museum

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all!

Today is a good day to reprise the popular back-issue of the Gaslight News from March 2010 that ran the article about Riverton’s Irish Row by Priscilla Taylor.

At the time, so many people asked for extra copies to send to family members,  we had to get more printed.

 

The article apparently also evoked memories and motivated several comments on the website about growing up Irish in Riverton.

It also irked at least one reader because a family name was not included in the “A Sampling of Irish Row Occupants Living on Cinnaminson Street —Irish Row (according to Riverton’s 1900 Census).”

    • 703 – Annie McDonald (hairdresser)
    • 707 – Nora Williams
    • 709 – Julia & Patrick Ford (day laborer)
    • 710 – James Flynn (florist)
    • 712 – Annie & James McIlvain (coachman)
    • 717 – Virginia & Patrick Rarins
    • 721 – Maggie & John McDermott (steamfitter)
    • 723 – Mary & Patrick Jordan (day laborer)

Certainly, there are many more names that could be included for 1900, and more still for other years. With increasing interest in genealogy and the popularity of websites such as ancestry.com that help with the task of discovering family stories, it is very likely that someone reading this can add another paragraph to this article, if not an entire chapter.

The person who is in the best position to tell your story is the person most closely connected to it.  So please, send us more information, and we will incorporate it into what we have.  Maybe someone will write a sequel.

Irish Row children Cinnaminson Ave., Oct. 1922

Since the original publication, several readers have volunteered information or images such as this one sent in by Mary Yearly Flanagan.

In 2011, a reader recognized the photo of Kate the Cook shown in the March 2010 Gaslight News, pg. 5 as her great-grandmother.

That is just the kind of connection I hope that can happen here as we all collaborate on gathering more information.

Catherine “Kate” Toohey McLyndon

At the Museum for a Day this past December, a woman remarked that her mother had been one of those Irish servants working in the big houses on the river. I gave her my card and pleaded with her to contact me so that I could find out more.

But it’s almost four months later, and no word. People get busy and, let’s face it, this stuff is way at the bottom of one’s to-do list.

If there is ever anything whatsoever that you can add to this collection, please do not hesitate to contact us.  Don’t think that something is too small or insignificant because that bit might be just what we need to fill in a missing piece of a larger puzzle. Don’t imagine that we are experts or that we know it all.

We thank Moore’s Postcard Museum for the vintage St. Patrick’s Day card pictured above. This one came from the March 2011 post, but there are three more antique St. Patrick’s Day cards just posted there today, March 17, 2012.

Mayor Bill Brown tells us that so far he has eight names to add to the Riverton Honor Roll next Memorial Day.  Last week we added another photo to the Riverton Honor Roll Album -Donald Rogers Taylor.

The landscape improvements and beautification efforts at the War Memorial  site have truly revitalized that public space. Expanding eligibility for veterans to include “…any present or former resident of the Borough of Riverton, New Jersey who served on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States of America during a time of war” has brought well-deserved recognition to veterans of other conflicts in addition to World War Two.

Please visit the Riverton War Memorial next to Riverton Square on South Main Street, next to the River LINE tracks. See information on the Veterans Page if you want to submit a veteran’s name for consideration. - John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

 

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Batsto bus trip April 28 sponsored by Palmyra Historical & Cultural Society

No, you’re not on the wrong webpage.

Will Valentino from THE PALMYRA HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL SOCIETY asked if we could help get the word out about a bus trip to Batsto, so here it goes. Will’s copy follows:

Now that Spring is in the air and the Daffodils are blowing in the cool breeze of March, you may wish to reconsider The Palmyra Historical Society’s bus trip to Batsto village on April 28th. Information and updated revised flyer attached.

PLEASE FORWARD THIS E-MAIL TO ANYONE INTERESTED OR PRINT THE ATTACHED FLYER AND POST IT IN A PUBLIC VENUE FOR US !

Hello Friend of the Palmyra Historical & Cultural Society ,

On April 28th, join fellow residents and history buffs  as we travel back in time to Batsto village in the heart of the Pine Barrens. I have attached a brochure listing details,cost and tour schedule.

There  are only 55 seats available . We recommend you book your reservations early for this fascinating trip into New Jersey’s past.

If you have any questions, you can e-mail  Society trustee Genevieve Lumia  @  gen.lumia@comcast.net  or call Judy at 856-456-1121.  We will be accompanied by a tour guide who is an expert on pinelands history.

So, travel back in time with us and help support the Palmyra Historical & Cultural Society.

Hope to see you there.

Will Valentino Author of BACK IN TIME Trustee, Palmyra Historical & Cultural Society

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