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.


Diaries donated to PH&CS illuminate Cinnaminson’s Civil War era

Jay Howard presents his findings to a well-attended meeting

Jay Howard presents his findings to a well-attended meeting

The Palmyra Cultural and Historical Society had a huge turnout for its free presentation on the Civil War at the Palmyra Community Center on January 9, 2014.

The publicity blurb promised material history archives and comprehensive research on the socioeconomic impacts of the war specific to Palmyra.

Jay Howard of the Palmyra Cultural and Historical Society delivered on that promise and gave a detailed analysis of Palmyra’s social and economic condition during the 1860s.

He based his conclusions on an incredible present that a very generous Cinnaminson resident gave them–a set of Civil War diaries.

one of Capt. Hall's Civil War diary volumes

one of Capt. Hall’s Civil War diary volumes

We could look at, but not touch, one ledger of the multi-volume diary written by Capt. Charles Hall, Fourth New Jersey Volunteers, which was passed down through his family. His great-great-granddaughter Virginia Harding donated it to the Palmyra organization a few months ago. .

Muster sheets list names of Union soldiers

Muster sheets list names of Union soldiers

Jay Howard, who is also a professor at the Community College of Philadelphia, has been engrossed with their contents since. He coordinated the names mentioned in the diaries with names listed on local Civil War muster sheets and consulted Adjutant General William S. Stryker’s two-volume Record of Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Civil War, 1861-1865.

I confess that I went hoping to freeload some information about Riverton’s involvement in the War between the States because at that time, the towns of Riverton and Palmyra were still part of Cinnaminson Township.

While the focus that evening was definitely on Palmyra, there may be some Civil War vets from Riverton we’ll hear about later when the PH&CS finishes transcribing the diaries. We have a short list of Riverton Civil War vets complied, but part of the difficulty is sorting out names of Riverton residents from the Cinnaminson records.

Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer Edward Colimore interviewed Mr. Howard about the author of diaries, their donor Virginia Harding, and the information he has gleaned from them.  You can find the philly.com article here.

PHCS screenshot

Palmyra & the Civil War screenshot

Here is a link to his a PDF file for Jay’s slide presentation in which he examines Palmyra society of the Civil War era. Note slide #7 which gives a general overview of the economic situation in Riverton. You’ll want to see this separate  Word .doc which includes Jay’s explanations of the slides.

This is a perfect example of the tremendous value that primary source materials serve in documenting local history. We thank Ms. Harding for her extraordinary generosity to the community and Mr. Howard and his research team at the Palmyra Cultural and Historical Society for their contribution to our understanding of the region’s history.

I certainly look forward to the next chapter in Jay’s investigation. Let us know what you think and we’ll pass it along to Jay. – John McCormick

Revised 2/10/2014: Note that the Word file explaining Mr. Howard’s slides has been revised, and if you visited earlier, you may want to see his much amplified version.

CIVILW01b

CIVILW01b

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Get used to it – more on the way

Riverton eagle surveys Broad Street

Riverton eagle surveys Broad Street

So thoughtful of you to check on the elderly here at the Society during today’s snowstorm.

I’m fine, thank, you.

Just be careful if you’re shoveling this heavy snow.

I had to go out, so on the way I took a few pictures with my phone just in case our members in California and Florida are missing the snow.HSR mailing list graph

Membership Chairperson Pat Brunker sent me the latest membership list on an Excel file and it shows 154 addresses for 11 different states – Florida to Maine and New Jersey to California. About 2/3 of the addresses are in the 08077 zip code, which includes Riverton and Cinnaminson.

Here’s a few more pictures.

You don’t have to be a Society member to check out the website or send us a comment. There must be some better photos out there, folks. We’d love to post your snow scene pix, new or old.   - John McCormick

ice - WmMcDermott

Icy Riverton Yacht Club – Bill McDermott

Added 2/8/2014: Thanks to Bill McDermott for this photo and a poem, first published in December 1920 Harper’s Magazine.

Fire and Ice
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
- Robert Frost

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Meeting notice – March 2, 2014

Downton publicity graphic 1Animation Downton publicity graphic 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See the January 2014 Gaslight News for more details.

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Meeting notice – February 12, 7 p.m. at The Bank on Main

Lincoln PublicitySee the January 2014 Gaslight News for more details.

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History Repeats Itself as Ice Jams the Delaware River

As last night’s (Jan. 9) Action News segment explains, the sight of recent ice jams on the Delaware brought out spectators with cameras to record the “once in a lifetime” event. However, for our friend William Hall this makes at least twice, as regular readers of our newsletter will recall (“Adrift on the Icy Delaware,” Gaslight News, January 2013).

IMG_6279 [1024x768 PPt]

ice jam RYC pier 1920

This stereoview of ice shards clustered up over the pier by the Riverton Yacht Club in January 1920 comes from Elsie Waters. There is another view on a Feb. 2011 post along with a few other images from this rare collection.

Say, doesn’t that pumper in the Feb. 2011 post look like the same one depicted in the photo I bought on eBay, mentioned here Dec. 22? But, I am off topic.

March 8, 1934 Courier Post ice-bound RYC

March 8, 1934 Courier Post ice-bound RYC

Back to the ice conversation.

Here is mention of a close call for some ice skaters rescued from an ice floe in 1900 by Charles Biddle.

Mary Flanagan’s scrapbook continues to be a goldmine of source material for this blog. This newspaper clipping provides another example of the uncommon phenomenon.

Or is it?

Can any reader recall another occurrence of glacial blockage on the Delaware?

If you have an old one or a new one, please send us a scan or donate it for our archives.

River Ice, undated, from Bill & Nancy Hall's family photos

River Ice, undated

Please appreciate the view from a safe distance.

NYT, Feb 11, 1917 Charles Durbonard, possibly Durborow

NYT, Feb 11, 1917 Charles Durbonard, possibly Durborow

This is NOT to suggest that anyone should  actually risk going out on to ice.

Or in it, as evidenced by this clipping from a Feb. 11, 1917 New York Times showing Riverton’s Charles Durbonard taking his usual morning dip in the Delaware prior to going to his office in a Philadelphia bank.

I believe this is the same Charles Durborow referenced in news articles of the 1910s-1920s as being a champion long-distance swimmer associated with the Riverton Yacht Club.

Again, I digress. - John McCormick

 

 

 

 

 

 

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