During your rounds of the decorated homes stop by The New Leaf for refreshment and entertainment.
After a two-year absence, the Historical Society of Riverton’s Museum-for-a-Day returns, this time to the Library’s basement.
Maybe we should call it Mini-Museum-for-a-Day since the space is small. Still, if you can venture downstairs, it’s worth the price of admission, which is free for this one day. Who knows when we can do it again?
HSR Board members have prepared a number of exhibits of materials from our seldom seen archives.
A remarkable highlight is Society member Dorothy Talavera’s own collection called A Family of Brides containing bridal gowns, photos, invitations, love letters, and mementos representing almost two centuries of brides in the same family.
Upstairs, in the Library’s meeting room, we will screen the 43-minute DVD Romance of Riverton, filmed in 1926. It is available again for $20 after a sellout in 2015.
Also available for sale upstairs will be reproduction prints of many of the postcards, photos, and maps plus historically themed mugs seen on our website. See more information about the DVD and the mugs here. – JMc
Rev. 12/1/2016: This bulletin from Deb Lengyel – Here is a link to the 8-page tour booklet for a sneak preview of the homes this year. It includes a list of businesses and shops open for the event, a map, and provides descriptive information filled with architectural and local history details for the places on the tour. A history lesson in itself! Thanks to Deb and Idea Patio Creative Services for again generously donating her design expertise and a part of the printing costs to the project.
In a program co-sponsored by the Historical Society of Riverton and the Riverton Free Library on November 17, Trish Chambers colorfully described many Victorian era Christmas traditions.
Using illustrations by renowned British illustrator Randolph Caldecott from the charming volume of old English Christmas traditions by famed American author Washington Irving, Ms. Chambers brought to life what a Christmas holiday looked like, smelled like, tasted like, and sounded like.
Rosemary, holly, and ivy decorated the homes representing friendship, love, commitment, and togetherness. The greenery symbolized resiliency in the coldness and darkness of winter.
When Queen Victoria married Prince Albert from Germany, he brought the German tradition of the Christmas tree.
Bayberry candles lit the manor houses adding light to ward off the winter grey. The celebration lasted for twelve days since guests traveled long distances to the manor houses in the countryside. Food and drink were plentiful, lavish meals were served accompanied by music and dramatic performances. Villagers sang outside the manor houses to entertain the guests. Children took an active part and were included in the celebrations.
See an online version of the 1886 edition of the entire Washington Irving classic here. – Susan Dechnik
Matt Mlynarczyk, who now lives in Virginia, sends us this scan of a Riverton fire engine. (We last heard from him last summer (Dig this, July 4, 2016) when he sent in a photo of a rare bottle labeled “MacMullin” he had found.)
Local residents may have read the Philadelphia Inquirer story in August about a two officers who rescued a “treasure” of thousands photo negatives that were slated for disposal by the Cinnaminson Police Department. This undated photo was among them.
Please advise if you can identify and date the above photo. – JMc
I had only mentioned in a September blog post that a photo of that bakery was one requested by our web visitors.
This excerpt from Betty Hahle’s booklet that accompanied the Romance of Riverton, a 1926 film turned to DVD in 1989, explains earlier incarnations of that spot.
The small building on the corner (formerly Klipple’s, now Zena’s Patisserie ) was erected by the Gas Company in 1900, became the Railway Express office (in 1926 moved to 1st floor Price Bldg.) and is seen here very briefly as a butcher/grocery store. Although directories identify it as Riverton Market House at this time, it was occupied very briefly by Ludlow’s Market, and identified as such by Paul Gibbon who, as a boy, made deliveries for Ludlow.
In this 2011 blog post Carl McDermott recalled how his mother was a telephone operator in the upper story of the attached structure to the left of Klipple’s (toward Palmyra).
If a reader can date the photos, please advise.
We are still seeking any photos of the Sharon Shop when it was a favorite lunch spot for Riverton students and teachers, among others. Wishing has worked so far. – JMc
Arbor Day falls on the last Friday of April every year.
Riverton earned its Tree City designation over 27 years ago on Arbor Day, April 28, 1989, as the result of efforts by some dedicated tree huggers.
Then Shade Tree Commission Member Nancy Washington explained why.
To get the circumference, of course, for the tree census.
Commission Chair Mr. Barry Emens and his fellow commissioners had previously measured each one of them and noted their condition as part of the task of applying to the Arbor Day Foundation for the Tree City title.
In marking the occasion that day, Mr. Emens addressed a group of k-5th grade Riverton School students on the Christ Episcopal Church lawn.
Mr. Emens enthusiastically listed some benefits of trees:
Trees give us a good feeling inside.
They keep the noise down.
They keep your parents’ fuel bills down.
They increase property values.
The kids cheered when Emens announced they would each get a white pine seedling.
Music teacher Naomi Horn directed students in singing “Arbor Day, Sweet Arbor Day” to the tune of “O Christmas Tree.”
Raise your hand, kids, if you witnessed an Arbor Day tree planting. Or maybe you planted one of those tree seedlings.
One of our town’s trees has even been to outer space.
Well, at least its seed was in space.
During another Arbor Day assembly in 2011, the borough received a white pine grown from seeds flown aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997. Riverton’s new tree was on display in a planter in the school gymnasium before being planted in Riverton Memorial Park along the edge of the Pompeston Creek.
According to the Board’s current Tree Census, Riverton Borough has 2474 trees lining the streets & parks; that’s almost as many trees as its people population of 2,772 (2013). Over the years, Emens and company have succeeded in making Riverton home to a staggering 151 diverse tree species!
In 2015, Nancy and Bill Steel’s family photo album yielded early 20th century images of what may have been Riverton’s first swimming pool, H. McIlvain Biddle’s iceboat plying the Delaware River, a bi-wing seaplane afloat near Riverton Yacht Club, and a group of apparent suffragists lunching at Haine’s Pond, Burlington Pike.
Visual treats, indeed, despite the lack of accompanying notes that might have given them more context.
In a year in which a woman is the first female presidential nominee of a major party, the enigmatic photos of crowds walking, singing, and bearing “VOTES FOR WOMEN” signs at several Burlington County locales warrant revisiting the Steel photo album.
Peculiarly referred to in captions as Col. Ida Kraft (spelling varied), Corp. Martha Kaltschkin, and Gen. Rosalie Jones, the women and their “Pilgrim Army” had piqued my interest.
Some newspaper research and many Google hits later led me to this Library of Congress photo documenting the 1913 suffrage hike from New York City which culminated in an immense suffrage parade in Washington, D.C. timed to coincide with newly elected President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration.
Newspaper accounts confirmed that the hikers did indeed pass through these parts.
Turns out, the Steel family album documents an important chapter in the long fight for women’s right to vote.
What would those pioneers think of today’s developments in the Election of 2016?
Dubbed “The Army of the Hudson” by newspapers, General Jones considered the movement of women to become enfranchised of as much importance to this country as General Washington’s celebrated crossing of the Delaware. Jones and her “pilgrims” marched 230 miles in 17 days to the nation’s capital.
Meanwhile, Alice Paul, the acclaimed 28-year-old Quaker suffragist from nearby Mt. Laurel, had been in Washington working for the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) since December 1912.
As chair of NAWSA’s Congressional Committee she strategized, raised funds, organized, and maximized publicity for the first suffragist parade in Washington, D.C., known officially as the Woman Suffrage Procession.
Imagine a parade of 8,000 marchers with 26 floats with costumed suffragists, bands, speakers, and mounted brigades led by Inez Milholland, acknowledged as “the most beautiful suffragist,dressed in Greek robes and astride a white horse as a half-million spectators clogged the Pennsylvania Avenue route to the White House.
The nation observed the spectacle through countless newspaper accounts.
A later scandal asserting a lack of response by police to the violence perpetrated by suffrage opponents in the crowd fueled tremendous sympathetic publicity.
However, it was not to be until 1920 that the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing no state could deny the right to vote on the basis of sex.
Some circumstantial evidence suggests that perhaps at least some Rivertonians took part in the women’s suffrage events of 1913.
Alice Paul graduated from Swarthmore College in 1905, a Quaker institution co-founded by her grandfather, Judge William Parry, an important figure in local history. Accounts inform us that, at the parade, she marched with a contingent of Swarthmore friends.
Many members of prominent Riverton families had attended Swarthmore including Beulah and Susanna Parry, Hetty Coale Lippincott, Martha McIlvain Biddle, Clara Atlee, Ruth Hunt Conrow, Abigail Mary Ellsworth, Esther Fisher Holmes, Anna Lippincott Miller, and Elisabeth Somers Williams.
Alice Paul’s father, William Mickel Paul, was vice-president of the Riverton and Palmyra Water Company and owned stock in the Tacony-Palmya Ferry Company.
Perhaps not coincidentally, the record also shows that Riverton clubwomen such as Mary Van Meter Grice, Mrs. D. Henry Wright, Mary L. Thomas, Amelia Coale, Edith Coale, and others were involved in the women’s movement.
In 1904, Helen Lippincott, Swarthmore alum and Porch Club Charter Member, called for the formation of a Suffrage Section, or department, at the Porch Club. Later she served as a delegate to the November 1912 National Convention of the Women’s Suffrage Association at which Alice Paul was an alternate delegate.
Suffice it to say that the timing and locations allow for the possibility that at least some Riverton women helped advance the cause of women’s rights.
Here’s my question: Are the pictures in the Steel album because an ancestor or acquaintance participated in the march? Further, is there a deeper connection to Riverton history somehow?
The captions do not say and the Mr. and Mrs. Steel do not know.
We could use a hand with this one, Readers. – JMc
Added 11-4-2016: See a more detailed version of this story in the November issue of the Gaslight News.
Hoeganaes Sponge Iron Corp. is the only postcard that has a date.
Can a car buff date that Caddy at Roger Wilco or any of the autos at Richard’s Restaurant? The phone number for Roger Wilco listed on the back is RIverton 9-1400. – JMc
Rev. 10/2/16 Roger Prichard:Thanks! Richards Restaurant is today’s Whistler’s Inn, I’m guessing?
Thanks to HSR member Roger Prichard for his suggestion on our Facebook page that Richards Restaurant is today Whistlers Inn. Although enlarged and transformed, it sure looks like it. My mouth is watering for Whistlers’ Smoke House BBQ ribs. The postcard shows a Route 130, Riverton address, and Whistlers gives a 901 Route 130 Cinnaminson address.