To a historian, getting another vintage postcard scan and seeing these photographs of old Riverton is like getting an early Christmas present.
A frequent contributor of many classic postcard scans to our virtual museum here at rivertonhistory.com, Mr. Harlan Radford, Jr. wired a handful of these holiday confections over the miles to us, and we will share one or two with you each week as we countdown toward the Yuletide season.
Last March, Henry Parrish Hackett, a website visitor in North Carolina wrote:
“Hi. I just discovered the Riverton History blog and I’ve been having a ball going through it finding family photos.”
Thanks to his incredible memory, he even advised us of an error we made in identifying a person in an old family photo belonging to Mrs. Nancy Hall. The man that she thought was her grandfather, Ezra Lippincott, was actually Ezra’s father-in-law. See the photo here with the corrected caption.
When Henry was in this area on business in July, he visited his cousin Mrs. Nancy Hall (their grandmothers were daughters of Ezra Lippincott), at the home in Riverton she shares with husband Bill. Henry had offered that I meet with them to discuss some photos that he sent ahead to me by mail so that I could scan them for the Society.
Henry, or Hank as he is known by family and friends, carefully chronicled the people, places, and things in each photo, often elaborating with an anecdote or a family tale that gave context to these century old images.
Hank’s grandparents, Bertha Lippincott Parrish and Henry C. Parrish, started married life in this house they called “The Chocolate Cake.” Hank doesn’t know the address. Can someone help?
Ezra Lippincott built the house at 901 Thomas Avenue for them in 1904, and it was there that Bertha gave birth to three of their four children. Their first child, Dillwyn, was born at her father’s on the river bank.
The photos below include captions that came from Hank’s memories of his Riverton ancestors and relatives.
Hank’s grandfather is pictured in this old metal tintype. The caption on the envelope in which it was stored reads, “Best friends at Swarthmore” Walter Clothier, (L); Henry Parrish, (R). wearing boaters
Bertha Lippincott Parrish, Henry C. Parrish, and daughter, Alice Parrish (Hank’s mother), on front porch at 901 Thomas Avenue, Sept. 1914.
Gathered around the Halls’ dining room table inspecting the photos that summer afternoon, we were all wondering about that item with the big cross on it.
Hank confirmed that the family was indeed devoutly Quaker and we wondered if they were involved in a war relief effort. They may well have been, but we cannot confirm it from this photo.
A subsequent google search of the phrase,”Neutrality in War – Humanity in Suffering” resulted in my conclusion that the item on the table is probably a newspaper advertisement with the headline,”Wanamaker Store is Closed Today – Labor Day” above the logo for the Red Cross with the slogan, apparently coined by John Wanamaker, used to appeal to the American people to contribute humanitarian aid for war ravaged Europe.
In 1914, America was still three years away from a formal declaration of war on Germany, but Philadelphia merchant John Wanamaker launched bold plans to help secure subscriptions and supplies from the public at official stations in his stores. The title of the publication on the table in the photo cannot be determined, but here is a similar ad that appeared in the September 16, 1914 issue of The Westfield Leader.
Ezra Lippincott gave homes to each of his children in Riverton. His own home at 303 Bank later became the Baptist Home, or Riverview Estates, as it is known today.
Hank supplied this rare photo of his great-grandfather’s home when it was put up for sale after Ezra’s death in 1908. On the back it enumerated a long list of the estate’s features.
- huge property which extended all the way back to Second Street
- 15 large rooms
- two bathrooms
- butler’s pantry
- 3 porches
- tenant house
- garden, fruit trees
- beautiful outlook over Delaware River
The Baptist Home, now Riverview Estates, as depicted on a an undated chrome postcard.
Hank explained that Ezra Lippincott built a cottage built on his property for Kate McLyndon, the household cook, and her husband, the coachman for the estate. A couple of family tales survive about the colorful Irish domestic. Mrs. Nancy Hall recounted one about Kate and some faulty Strike Anywhere Matches in the March 2010 Gaslight News.
Hank told us another about how Kate admonished the local priest who came to visit because he hooked his heels over the rungs of her brand new wood settee.
A caption on the back reads: “Kate McLindon, Cook at Ezra Lippincott’s family from around 1878? until 1902 or even longer as I don’t know year she came. BLP”
This gathering of possibly preteen girls with their doll babies took place on the porch of Ezra Lippincott’s home at 303 Bank Avenue. Left to right: Edith Coale, Alice Lippincott (Booth), Mary Lippincott (Griscom), Nannie Biddle, Anna Lippincott
Hank guessed that this playhouse was probably located either at Ezra Lippincott’s, Frishmuth’s, or Biddle’s. Can any reader confirm?
Few people today can recall seeing the Delaware River frozen over to the extent shown in this photo, captioned, “Icebergs on the Delaware.”
Speaking of things of which today’s children might be skeptical, here is a photo showing chickens being raised at 901 Thomas Avenue with young Alice and Henry Parrish looking on.
Two more pics of the Parrish homestead.
Finally, here are some more “recent” photos from 1945.
Like I said, it was like getting a Christmas present in July. Thank you, Henry Parrish Hackett, for this peek into your family photo album and the glimpses into Riverton’s past. And thank you to postcard collector Harlan Radford for these first two vintage Christmas postcard images in our weekly Countdown to Christmas.
As families gather and reminisce during the days ahead, see if your own family albums don’t have some views of old Riverton to share with your neighbors here at rivertonhistory.com.
As always, we welcome reader submissions, contributions, and appreciate receiving corrections to anything that we have posted in error.
– John McCormick, Gaslight News editor
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