Regular readers of this website know that we are a bit obsessive-compulsive about finding lost history and completing collections. Ok, really a lot of OCD.
Many hundreds, perhaps a few thousand, of folks have attended the Candlelight House Tours sponsored by Friends of the Riverton Library over the years. If you have a booklet for a year that we are missing, please either give it to us, send us scans, or lend it so we could scan it for our files.
We already have these booklets: 1976; 1978; 1980; 1984; 1986; 1988; 1990; 1992; 1994; 1996; 1998; 2001; 2003; 2005; 2007; 2009; 2011; 2013
So you’re wondering if they were held every other year, why did years switch from even to odd after 1998. And, was 1976 the first House Tour?
Inquiring minds want to know. Please comment below if you can help bring this bit of Riverton history up to date.
William C. Probsting, a valued member of the HSR Board, passed away at his home in Riverton on Monday, September 20, 2021. A life-long resident of Riverton, Bill Probsting lived in the house on Howard Street that has been in his family for three generations. Bill was headmaster of Westfield Friends School from 1974 to 2013. After his retirement, Bill continued to serve his community through membership on the board of the Riverton Historical Society and through involvement with other non-profit organizations in the area. Donations in his honor can be made to the Riverton Historical Society and to Westfield Friends School. We will miss him.
The HSR needs your help. We have been invited to publish a History of Riverton book with Arcadia Publishing Company and we are searching for special images that showcase our amazing town history. We are looking for photographs that show the uniqueness of Riverton in the years 1851 – 1971.
That’s 50 years and older material going back to Riverton’s founding in 1851.
Have you seen these books for other communities and wondered why Riverton wasn’t represented? See some other New Jersey-themed books here on Arcadia’s website. You can even look inside some of them.
Three ways to share:
You can scan the image(s) to 300dpi or above in jpg or tiff format and send it to the Society at email@example.com.
Or mail them to us. Our mailing address is:
Historical Society of Riverton
PO Box 112
Riverton, NJ 08077
If you live in the area, and need help with scanning or photographing, please use the contact form below so we can make arrangements to pick up and return your originals.
Please include any description that might give context to your image which will be considered as a caption with your name as a donator.
Deadline is November 1, 2021.
The book will be available for sale on July 4, 2022.
By donating, you agree to allow us to use these images within this book and we will credit the donator appropriately. Final decisions of inclusion will be made by the publishing editors.
All proceeds of this book will be used to improve the way in which we preserve and display our amazing history and we hope you will be a part of this great project.
Thank you for your generosity in all the things that make Riverton the great town that it is.
So please check your attic and garage, look in photo boxes, scrapbooks, and albums, and send us images that will tell Riverton’s unique story.
The following links show some representative times that our understanding of Riverton’s history has benefited from donations by the public.
In 1917 Steedle purchased the property for $750 from the estate of Hanna M. Bickley and subsequently built a “one-story frame garage.”
Sidebar #1: This next bit of Riverton history comes from Borough Historian Roger Prichard: Of note is that the oldest owner, Hannah Bickley, was the daughter of our ubiquitous first-among-equals Founder Daniel Leeds Miller, Jr. She lived 1846-1911 and likely lived at 201 Fulton for some of her teen years before her marriage at 17 to Lloyd Wharton-Bickley, Jr. who was 11 years her elder and a physician. They lived for many years right down the block from Erin Cleaners in the mansard roof house at 400 Fulton.
An examination of old editions of The New Era reveals advertisements for Steedle’s Garage and Express owned by George Steedle from about 1920 until 1922.
Steedle sold the property to James W. B. Taylor and his wife, Eleanor, in 1922 for $10,000.
J.C. Taylor announced in the July 7, 1922 New Era that he had purchased Steedle’s Garage and would do business as Taylor’s Garage.
A 1925 Sanborn Map shows on that lot a large frame garage with a capacity for 20 cars, but it was not the same building that is located there today.
Our historical archive yields this photo of that original automobile showroom. It is a frame capture from The Romance of Riverton, a silent 1926 film commissioned by the Chamber of Commerce as a civic advertisement.
Sidebar #2: The Romance of Riverton was a silent film made in 1926 and shown for many years at the Broadway Theater at Broad & Leconey Streets in Palmyra.
The theater closed in 1967 and the film was given to the HSR in 1978. Through the efforts of the HSR, the Porch Club, Palmyra-Riverton Rotary Club, and concerned individuals, the silent film was transferred to safety film in 1980 and was shown locally many times.
The Society later sold a conversion to VHS videotape in 1989.
John McCormick later produced a DVD version that added chapters and titles and a soundtrack with effects and various public domain music accompaniments. In 2009, the Burlington Board of Chosen Freeholders recognized Betty Hahle and John McCormick for their work in preserving the Romance of Riverton and making it accessible to modern audiences.
Wait – it gets better.
In January 2021, the HSR Board decided to examine the possibility of getting a professional video lab to extract a higher quality digital file from the 1979 16mm negative of The Romance of Riverton. In April 2021, HSR Board Member Roger Prichard delivered the negative to George Blood, LP in Fort Washington, and by early May we had a high-resolution digital copy of the film as well as high-resolution TIFFs of each frame on a hard disk drive. (Your dues dollars at work!)
We are currently investigating options on how to share this new version with the public.
These two shots of Taylor’s Garage are frame grabs from this newest version albeit they are posted here in a manageable screen resolution.
Betty Hahle‘s description of Taylor’s Garage as it appeared in the booklet that accompanied the 1989 videotape gives further context.
James W. B. Taylor‘s Motor Co., at Broad/Fulton, sold “United States Tires.” Pumping gas by hand is his son, Allan, who grew up to marry Elizabeth Toy, of Palmyra. The garage was destroyed by fire two years after the movie.
Some Taylor’s Garage newspaper ads:
Roger Prichard reminds us that, of course, our former HSR President, Gaslight News Editor, and Borough Historian Betty B. Hahle plumbed these depths of Riverton history before, as shown in this excerpt from the May 1997 Gaslight News:
James Taylor’s earlier service station had burned shortly after the “Romance of Riverton” movie was made in 1926. His new building, designed and erected by Eichner and Weber of Palmyra, opened on March 22, 1929. Constructed of concrete blocks with a brick front, there was a large showroom, with a balcony office at the back of it, and space for 3 cars on the floor. It cost $10,000.
At some point around 1928, Taylor’s Garage underwent a name change to James W.B. Taylor, and that, in turn, morphed into Taylor Motor Co. around mid-1929.
In 1929, ownership was transferred from James W.B. Taylor to Palmyra Machine (John Metague and Frank Waters, with their wives Grace W. Metague and Elsie D. Waters).
The New Era, May 10, 1928, p3
The New Era, May 9, 1929 p3
The New Era, Aug 14, 1929, p4
1929 Boyd’s Directory of Burlington County
The New Era, Apr 30, 1931, p6
The New Era, Dec 15, 1932, p5
The Taylor reign ended around 1934 when Moorestown Motors used the building as a satellite showroom for its main place of business.
By the Summer of 1936, Moorestown Motors closed its short-lived Riverton branch.
The building was not idle for long.
With great fanfare, the Askew Motor Co. opened in September 1936 in a completely renovated building “…prepared to render a thoroughly up-to-date Chevrolet Service and Reconditioned Used Car Service to its customers.”
Look closely at this newspaper photo of Askew Motors below and note the one detail that reveals its ancestry to the former Erin Cleaner building at Broad and Fulton in 2021.
608 Broad Street must have had a revolving door because just two years later Askew Motor Company ceased operation, having also been known for a time in 1938 as Bill Hay.
The New Era, Dec 16, 1937, p8
The New Era, Jan 13, 1938, p6
The New Era, Jan 20, 1938, p12
The New Era, March 24, 1938, p12
ADP Motors makes an appearance in the fall of 1938 only to be succeeded a few months later by Frank I. Lloyd who specialized in Dodge and Plymouth automobiles.
Again, only months later, the Frank Lloyd operation disappeared, and by October 1939 brothers Floyd and Blair Koppenhaver opened their Dodge-Plymouth dealership with Frank Lloyd as their service manager in time to introduce the 1940 lineup.
A full-page ad in the November 2, 1939 New Era invited readers to visit their showroom.
Although the street address in the ad is 600 Broad, the building is clearly the same one seen earlier in the Askew Motor Company’s Chevrolet ad.
If you are keeping score, that makes at least ten business operations there in less than twenty years.
The last advertisements for Koppenhaver Motor Company that we found were for May 1942.
We can’t account for the more than two-year gap until Riverton Machine Company placed this series of June-Dec 1944 wartime ads in which Riverton Machine Co. and other Riverton businesses urged its readers to “Back the attack – BUY MORE THAN BEFORE.”
The tool and die designers and makers attempted to solicit trade and hire help as late as September 1945, but only one month later the company was selling off a turret lathe that “…has had very little use. Less than 2 yrs. old.”
In 1946 Riverton Machine transferred ownership to Hunter Industries (Blaine & Anne Hunter) for $1. The token dollar transfer may suggest that the parties just didn’t want to disclose the sale price.
As Hunter Industries was selling off machine tools in August 1949, a trio of investors was looking into establishing a retail cleaning plant in the building formerly occupied by Hunter Industries at Broad and Fulton Streets.
Winifred Holroyd paid Hunter Industries (Blaine & Anne Hunter) $14,000 for the property in 1949, a few months before these classified ads for help at Erin Cleaners appeared in 1950.
Courier-Post, NJ, 14 Jan 1950, p15
Courier-Post, Camden, NJ, 07 Jun 1950, p28
Then, in 1952, Winifred Holroyd sold the property to partners George Holroyd, Robert Holroyd, and Raymond Conover for $1.
Except for more classified ads, Erin Cleaners received not much mention from the 1950-1970s except for this March 1956 news article of partners George and Robert Holroyd and Raymond Conover examining their smashed safe after a $9,000 robbery.
It’s August and you see on Facebook all the fun your friends are having on vacations at the Jersey Shore. Before Facebook, folks turned to the pages of their hometown newspaper to check out their friends’ status.
One vacation spot favored by local residents in the early 1900s was Stone Harbor, a resort that, like Riverton, would also boast of a yacht club and a country club.
Some Riverton sailors were drawn to Stone Harbor to compete in regattas and by all accounts, they had their share of successes.
This is a story of Stone Harbor Yacht Club and Country Club illustrated in vintage postcards.
All the Pleasures of Country and Seashore Combined
by Harlan B. Radford, Jr.
To celebrate and recognize the first anniversary of the Stone Harbor Yacht Club, in 1912 the South Jersey Realty Company published a very special and colorful postcard expressing, “Greetings from Stone Harbor.”
It proudly announces two new amenities: the Stone Harbor Golf Clubhouse and the Stone Harbor Yacht Club and shrewdly but subtlety tempts the viewer by depicting several recreational opportunities offered at Stone Harbor.
A fish hawk’s nest atop a tall pole and a flagpole trimmed with the American Flag and the yacht club’s unique red and blue burgee frame the layout. Seven vignettes in the encircling rope boast of many activities offered at Stone Harbor including golfing, fishing, racing motor cars on the beach, yacht and a racing motorboat, sunbathing on the beach, and racing sailboats. A Wright Flyer biplane overflies the yacht club. Stone Harbor’s entrepreneurs saw the inclusion of these two facilities as critical to the growth of their enterprise and they were right!
Many shore vacationers today and indeed some Stone Harbor residents are probably unaware that during 1908-1909, the developers placed pilings and bulkheads to create more land for housing and other expansion and dredged the natural basin to enlarge and deepen Snug Harbor.
As a result, both boating and fishing activities increased significantly. In 1909, a group of boating enthusiasts formed the Stone Harbor Yacht Club (SHYC) and incorporated it in January 1910 to foster an interest in sailing and powerboating. Situated on the bay at the point where Snug Harbor basin and the Great Channel converged, it became the focal point for the fledgling resort.
By early 1910, preparations were already underway to erect a handsome clubhouse on Snug Harbor Yacht Basin in the spring by the John Larsen Contracting Company.
It officially opened on July 4, 1910, and its success coincided with some other improvements to the resort including Stone Harbor Water Co., a new boardwalk, an electric plant, and a new hotel.
According to the Aug. 14, 1910, Philadelphia Inquirer, many yachtsmen pronounced the location, the waterfront, and the racing course “…the best on the Jersey coast,” and its bungalow-type clubhouse was reported to be “…the most artistic in build of any of the yacht clubs along the coast…”
Despite these early accolades, the SHYC encountered financial difficulties at the time of World War I owing to “…a great number of its men in the service, and those engaged in war work,” and, burdened by heavy debt, the club closed its doors in 1918 for several years.
A search of periodicals yielded no reports of regattas, dances, or events at SHYC for the years 1919-1927 and only one outboard race in 1928.
In 1929, on the threshold of the Great Depression, a new group of investors intervened, purchased the property, reorganized, and renovated the clubhouse.
They renamed it “The Yacht Club of Stone Harbor” (YCSH), the name used today, and opened for business with a regatta and a dance on August 3, 1929. Dancing in the Grand Ballroom and fine dining at the restaurant were popular mainstays of the club.
The following fifteen vintage postcards illustrate some milestones in the early history of Stone Harbor Yacht Club.
A crowd of people assembled for the ceremonial flag raising at the Stone Harbor Yacht Club on Memorial Day, 1910.
A handsome visiting yacht at the flag-raising and first annual reunion of the Stone Harbor Yacht Club on Memorial Day, 1910, Stone Harbor, N. J. One reference source indicated this yacht belonged to John Gilmore.
A colorful artist’s rendering of the proposed Stone Harbor Yacht Club.
Second annual rally of members and friends of the Stone Harbor Yacht Club at Stone Harbor, Memorial Day, 1911. Officers are grouped to the left. Postmarked July 17, 1914.
The sender writes: “Dear Father, this is quite a large place. The channel at our back door is very pretty and there is always a strong, cool breeze. Your affec. daughter, Pearl”.
A view of the Eighty-fifth Street yacht basin. Postmarked September 4, 1913. Later renamed the South Basin, it is the smallest one of a chain of seven beautiful artificial basins along the Great Channel at Stone Harbor.
Commodore James Thompson’s ‘Albatross,’ flagship of the Stone Harbor Yacht Club, located on Great Channel, Stone Harbor, N.J.
Stone Harbor Yacht Club and basin with visiting racing craft during Gala Week, July 1 to 5, 1911. The two central launches are the famous “Sand Burr” and the “Vanish.”
Stone Harbor Yacht Club, Stone Harbor, N.J. captures both the front door and the overhanging porte-cochere passageway to let vehicles pass under for access to the clubhouse. Most other postcard images show the clubhouse with water in front from the more picturesque Snug Harbor perspective. This view was part of a very scarce folio, or souvenir folder, consisting of multiple early black and white views of Stone Harbor.
One postcard postmarked on August 31, 1914, bears the following hand-written message: “This is a peach of a place. I’m picking out our lot today, tell Pa I’m staying with the Riters’ & having a very nice time. Paul.” Two of the images are examples of rare real photo postcards or RPPCs.
Stone Harbor Country Club was located on the mainland just minutes away from the town of Stone Harbor. These last four circa 1912-15 era postcards feature the Country Club that boasted having a 45-acre 9-hole golf course.
Here is a frontal view of the wooden shingle-sided Stone Harbor Country Club featuring a sizable open front porch.
Atop the tall pole immediately to the right of the clubhouse is a fish hawk’s nest. Such pole-mounted nests like this were rather common and visible throughout parts of the South Jersey seashore and the coastal waterway.
People enjoy a game of golf at the Country Club. The advent of the new trolley line between Stone Harbor and Cape May Court House made the Country Club especially convenient according to the caption on the back of this very old card.
In this view of the Country Club, we see several individuals relaxing and seated on the front steps and in the shade on the front porch. Once more, there’s that pole with the fish hawk’s nest.
The caption on the reverse side of this postcard promotes all the various sports activities that were available then, including golf, along with tennis, and even trapshooting.
This full-color 1918 postmarked card depicts some very special occasion with a throng of well-dressed people and an abundance of American flags, possibly taken during the official opening of the Country Club or the much-celebrated Gala Week activities that took place in early July of 1911.
Both the Yacht Club and the Country Club figured in the early development and ongoing success of the community now referred to as “The Seashore At Its Best,” namely Stone Harbor!
We urge anyone with information, photos, mementos, etc. about Riverton sailors’ exploits that are 50 years old or more to contact us.
There has been no activity for two months since the first Planning Board hearing about the aim of JRB Properties to develop and subdivide the Frederick S. Groves Mansionat 409-413 Lippincott Avenue. No new documents have been posted on the Planning Board’s Agenda website.
The Historical Society of Riverton wishes to go on record again to state that we urge the Riverton Planning Board to advocate for the preservation of that historic home and resist any attempt to subdivide the property in a way that would result in the creation of two more homes being built on substandard lots.
Our fellow Historical Society of Riverton Board members have reviewed and approved the attached letter which was then signed by our president Bill Brown and filed with the Borough several days ago.
In keeping with our “Fancy a swim” theme, this screen capture from an eBay auction (that we didn’t win) shows a medal that the Riverton Yacht Club awarded for a 3-mile women’s swim in 1919.
According to the report in the August 8, 1919 issue of The New Era, “The women’s 3-mile race held by the Yacht Club last Saturday proved to be the greatest race of its kind ever held in the world.”
Despite the writer’s hyperbole, it must have been a pretty awesome event that will probably new be duplicated.
A firing of a cannon from the deck of Commodore R.M. Hollingshead‘s cruiser, a former coast patrol boat, signaled the start of the novel race. (Richard Milton Hollingshead, Sr. founded RM Hollingshead Corporation, and by 1920 it produced 98 Whiz brand automotive products. His son, Richard Hollingshead, Jr., later invented the drive-in movie in 1933. See more details in GN #164, Dec 2016.)
Thirty of the finest women swimmers from New York, Philadelphia, Edgewater Park, and of course, Riverton dove from the deck of the Keystone Yacht Club’s “Surprise” into the “rough and choppy” waters off of the Bridesburg pier and into the record books.
Ethelda Bliebtrey, a rising 17-year-old swimming star, won the race with a time of 44 minutes, 15 seconds.
Second place winner Eleanor Uhl that year went on to break Bleibtrey’s record with a time of 43:13 to win the 3-mile swim competition in 1920.
Our previous post, “Fancy a swim to Philly?” described how Riverton youngsters proved their mettle back in the day by swimming across the Delaware River.
Maybe a knowledgeable sailor can report on today’s state of the Delaware River compared to a century ago, but swimming across now is probably ill-advised for several reasons.
Our dear former HSR Board member, Elsie Showell Waters, now passed, related the following story to Casey Foedisch who interviewed the Grand Marshal for the July Fourth Parade in 2013:
When Elsie was twelve, she swam across the Delaware River, a rite of passage that all the kids simply “had to do.” Elsie learned to swim at age five in the river, and her love of swimming continued into her time at Palmyra High School. There, she was a member of the Swim Team, eventually becoming captain, as two of her sisters had been before her. She later taught swimming to children with cerebral palsy at Medford Leas, and spent many years with Bay Knight Ruff, another cousin, giving swim lessons to Riverton children. Elsie estimates that the two of them taught a third of the town to swim!
Back in March 2021, we introduced a tribute to local artists page. We just updated the section for Edward John Hartmann with 16 more examples of his work pulled from eBay auction pages. Please contact us if you recognize the setting or subject of a painting or if you can account for the different styles and ways that paintings were signed.