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.

We go in with Palmyra on a bigger, better Antique & Collectible Appraisal

Expert Personal Property Appraiser, Ronald Shaffer, ISA assesses Nancy and Bill Hall's music box.

Ronald Shaffer assesses Nancy and Bill Hall’s music box in 2013

Saturday, March 28, 2015, from noon to 4 p.m. will see the return of the popular Antique & Collectible Appraisal with the affable and very knowledgeable appraiser Ronald E. Shaffer, but with a  few upgrades.

The spacious Palmyra Community Center will serve as the venue for an enlarged event which the Palmyra Historical & Cultural Society is co-sponsoring with the Historical Society of Riverton.

Well-known Philadelphia antiques expert, Mr. Ronald E. Shaffer, ISA, is a frequent speaker on the subject of Fakes, Frauds & Flimflams, and he directs many such Heirloom Discovery Day events for historical societies and civic groups.

You are certain to be informed and entertained by Mr. Shaffer’s witty and informed banter as he speaks about each piece, about his profession, and offers his opinions of value for items brought to the event.

In addition, we are very fortunate to have available at this same event Mr. Nicholas Fratto, Accredited Master Gemologist and CEO of Anthony Jewelers, to evaluate your vintage fine jewelry. Anthony Jewelers, of course, is a 3rd Generation family business serving the Riverfront region and beyond since 1953.

Muster sheets listing names of local area Union soldiers on display in 2014

Muster sheets listing names of local area Union soldiers on display in 2014

Last January 2014, we reported on the fine PH&CS presentation of its recently acquired Civil War diaries written by Capt. Charles Hall and muster sheets of local soldiers in Company E, 4th Regiment NJ Volunteers of the Union Army. The Civil War muster sheets will also be on display at this appraisal event.

The popularity of Antiques Roadshow, Pawn Stars, American Pickers, and other such reality shows has us all dreaming of finding buried treasure in our attic or finding a bargain in that local flea market. Whether it has been in the family for generations or you just picked up a vintage item on eBay, find out what it’s worth at this rare special event.

Admission is free. Each expert’s verbal opinion of value is $5 per item with a limit of two per person. No written appraisals will be issued. No reservation needed.

PLEASE NOTE— so you will not be disappointed — Mr.Shaffer claims no general knowledge of firearms, swords, or modern-day collectibles. He specializes in American, English and Continental furniture, glassware, silver, china, American art, textiles, and needlework. Furniture items are always welcome — if they are 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. Mr. Fratto’s specialty is fine estate jewelry. – JMcAntique Collectible Appraisal publicity 2015





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Blizzard fizzles; Editor looks back to actual historic snows

Snowblowing in Delran 1-27-2015

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the so-called “Historic Snowstorm” left two inches of soft powder in Delran (5 miles north of Riverton).

But it may have been enough to turn the late-January issue of the Gaslight News into a Post-Groundhog Day Issue, so I posted the PDF today. I will stuff envelopes and mail the newsletters as soon as I get them from Joie Budget Printing in Cinnaminson.

I do recall some historic snow storms. Well, maybe not in the meteorological sense.

Years ago, I waited for the KYW Radio announcement or the phone call from the colleague a step up from me on the Riverton School phone tree (and then I, in turn, called the next teacher) to give me the word, “No school.”

Upon returning to school the next day, students were all a-buzz with stories of snowball fights and sledding at Double Bunkers.

Historic or not, Riverton kids (and a teacher or two) enjoyed the day off. Often, though, a Spring Break would be adjusted or the school calendar extended farther into June to make up the day.

Skaters at RYC, c.1888

Skaters at RYC, c.1888

Each generation seems to define its own version of The Good Old Days and it amazing how the sight of an old photo or the scent of wet socks drying by the heater grate can reboot those memories.

What will the kids of 2015 regard as their Good Old Days?

Snow and ice have certainly caused their share of fun as well as commotion here over the years.

In 1900, the steamer Twilight became icebound near Trenton, and Charles Biddle rescued fifteen ice skaters with his boat when they got caught on a Delaware River ice that was breaking up.  In 1903, two young Riverton men saved another skating party from drifting ice, again by boat.

sleigh in snow, New Era, Feb 8, 1934, p3

sleigh in snow, New Era, Feb 8, 1934, p3

The Feb. 8, 1934 New Era, Riverton’s now defunct hometown newspaper, described how Benjamin Lippincott’s mule-drawn wicker sleigh thrilled “the younger generation of Riverton” when  it came into town.

In 1979, former HSR President and Town Historian Betty B. Hahle wrote in the Gaslight News:

In 1888 “Receipt Book” of Wm. F. Morgan …”The Great Blizzard occurred March 12th 1888.” (added) “The second occurred Feb. 12 and 13th 1899. It snowed for 52 hours.”

In researching his excellent Nov. 2009 GN article, The Fascinating Fitlers, former HSR President Gerald Weaber found:

Dale Baker Fitler was born in Riverton  exactly nine months after the famous snow blizzard in March 1888. Drifts reached  fifteen to thirty feet high along the riverbank.

Joseph F. Yearly - shoveling snow in front of J.T. Evans sheds 1940

Joseph F. Yearly – shoveling snow in front of J.T. Evans sheds 1940

Now, that blizzard really was historic. The Blizzard of 1888 was of the most famous snowstorms in American history, it hit the eastern United States March 11th and 12th 1888. The Great White Hurricane paralyzed communities from Maine to Chesapeake Bay. Cities became isolated when telephone and telegraph wires snapped, trains stopped, and roads became impassable. The National Weather service estimated that 40 inches of snow-covered New York and New Jersey. Philadelphia claimed high winds blew up to 60 miles an hour, creating snowdrifts 40 to 50 feet high.

It’s a good thing we missed out on that kind of historic snowstorm this time.

Riverton Readers of all ages, what historic, or just plain memorable, snowfalls do you recall? -JMc










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New Year changes proposed to the Constitution and Bylaws


No, not that Constitution – the HSR constitution. Patricia Solin, our Society’s secretary, explains below.

This past year the Board of the Historical Society of Riverton reviewed the its constitution and bylaws.

After careful consideration, an Ad Hoc committee suggested changes. The Executive Board voted to accept those changes, which now require review by the full membership.

proposed changes screenshotThe attached document describes those changes and the rationale for making the changes.

If you are a member of the Society, please review the document and be prepared to vote on it at our next General Membership meeting on January 21 (details forthcoming in the next newsletter and on this website).

Open the PDF here to read the proposed changes and the reasons for those changes. – JMc

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Winterthur’s Downton Costume Exhibit a hit with HSR

downton tixHSR President Phyllis Rodgers sends this short review of our recent trip to Winterthur Museum.

On Friday, December 5, thirty-nine HSR members and guests enjoyed a Holiday excursion to Winterthur Museum in Wilmington, DE.

First treated to a guided tour of the Historic Dupont Mansion, all were enthralled with the spectacular furnishings and Holiday décor.

After a leisurely lunch and visit to the outstanding gift shops it was time for the much anticipated viewing of the Costumes of Downton Abbey.

The vast variety of the collection from the hit series did not disappoint as samples of clothing from the upstairs and downstairs characters made one feel as if they were visiting with the actors themselves.

All made for a perfect day with good weather, good company, and a memorable Downton experience.

Downton Abbey returns for its fifth season starting Sunday, January 4th.

If anyone who went can send more photos, I will gladly include them. JMc

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Our Homemade Riverton Holiday Greeting

cyberattackNorth Korean strike in Riverton? Not-so-funny story — My 1 yr., 9 mos. old Dell computer suffered a complete nervous breakdown at the end of November and I had to replace the hard drive – lost everything on it.

Olds Community, Broad St. Riverton, NJ - now Stan's Auto

Olds Community, Broad St. Riverton, NJ – now Stan’s Auto

Like they say at the auto dealer – it isn’t the years; it’s the mileage. This baby has a lot on the odometer. Mostly from doing newsletter layouts, managing this website, and other HSR related work.

I am only just now getting it back into fighting form. I had backed it up with an external Western Digital hard drive, but it was missing the last two weeks of work from mid-November to first week of December.

What it did save was a jumble when I transferred it to the new hard drive. Nothing is where I expected it to be. Some files arrived in multiples and some not at all. Also lost many other folders, emails, my address book, files and settings that the backup drive did not save, plus some programs I had downloaded. It has been a colossal chore trying to get things back so I can work on the newsletter and website.

It’s a good thing I am paid by the hour. Just kidding – from President on down, we all volunteer for this duty.

So with just four days left until Christmas I am a bit behind schedule on getting out this Homemade Holiday Greeting.


Mrs. McC and I went for a drive around Lippincott, Thomas, and Linden Avenues last night and snapped some pix of the light displays.

Now, I now we missed a lot, and probably left out your favorite, but it was c-c-c-cold and getting late. A particularly vigilant dog on Thomas convinced us to head home where I went to work on this Riverton Christmas Light Greeting Card from the Historical Society of Riverton.

You can leave a comment about an individual photo if you click on it to enlarge it and enter your comment in the “Leave a reply” box under the photo.

Nancy Hall remembers her Lippincott grandparents in Riverton having a Christmas tree with real lit candles. What is your recollection of a Riverton Christmas?

If you have a another photo to contribute or a memory of Christmas Past, please contact us below, or at, or post it on Facebook.

Gotta go – I still have shopping to do. – JMc


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