Saturday coulda’ been worse

The Courier-Post, October 25, 1926, p1 detail

According to the Courier-Post, the tornado that spread ruin through Camden in 1926 struck Riverton, then moved on to Merchantville and East Camden.

Although tornadoes are much less common in New Jersey, compared to the southern and central US, the state averages around two yearly.

As evidenced by the events of last Saturday, we hope that maybe we’ve already had our quota for the year.

Jim Walsh of the Courier-Post reported:

CINNAMINSON – A tornado that hit Saturday evening traveled six miles from Cinnaminson into Delran and Moorestown, according to the National Weather Service.

And it was preceded by a “downburst event” that toppled trees in Palmyra and Riverton.

No injuries were reported.

The twister, although graded as a “weak” EF-1 tornado, had peak winds of 100 mph that took down trees and power lines, the Weather Service said in a preliminary report Sunday evening.

The tornado began at 6:59 p.m. and ended just six minutes later, the agency said.

The National Weather Service published a preliminary report on Sunday. News crews from the Courier-Post, 6abc News, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Fox29 News each put their narrative spin on the event, some even including photos and video. 6abc News produced the video below.

Riverton Mayor Suzanne Cairns Wells issued the following statement:

About now, you’re wondering how much tornado damage Riverton has sustained before. Searching our newspaper archive, the internet, and other area periodicals doesn’t turn up much.

Hurricane and storm damage, yes – tornadoes, not so much.

Mount Holly News, June 13, 1899, p3

However, we have had some close calls, with nearby towns sustaining damage.

POSA Hall, Palmyra, NJ

In 1899, “a gust of wind that amounted to almost a tornado” blew off part of Morgan Hall’s roof in Palmyra, toppled several large trees, and knocked a carriage house off its foundation. It demolished a barn and damaged another in Moorestown, then caused more havoc in Mt. Holly.

The New Era, July 29, 1921, p3

Another “almost” tornado struck Palmyra in 1921, causing a great deal of tree damage and tossing about two heavy baggage trucks at the railroad station.

A tornado tossed a two-story building housing 1,400 chickens on Moorestown’s Flying Feather Farm in 1958.

A list documenting each tornado touchdown in New Jersey since 1950 that the Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist compiled sheds more light on local tornadoes.

More recently, tornadoes tormented neighboring Mt. Holly in 1991, battered Hainesport and Florence in 2003, visited Mt. Laurel twice in 2019, and struck Edgewater Park in 2021. While for most years since 2000, New Jersey only had from zero to three tornadoes annually, 2019 saw nine, and 2021 saw thirteen!

And this just in from the NWS, 2:58 PM Tuesday, April 4: We’ve confirmed an EF-1 tornado in Mays Landing from Saturday night. Here is an updated list of all the damage survey results. We will work on posting tornado path maps as time allows. You can find detailed survey information here: #NJwx #DEwx #PAwx

OK, tornadoes have my attention now. Seven NJ tornadoes in one day ties a 1989 record for the biggest single-day tornado outbreak in New Jersey! That is seriously three years’ worth of twisters visited on us in a single day.

Tornado broadcast warnings are not just for those living in Tornado Alley. The next time one of those annoying Emergency Alert System notices squawks and takes over my TV screen, I will pay better attention and take cover. Just wish this condo had a basement. -JMc

Revisiting Riverton School prompts a new appeal for missing 8th-Grade grad photos

Riverton Public School 3-21-2023

Given the nostalgic reveries I see on Facebook from some of my former Riverton School students (now middle-aged adults), they may be interested in these photos of their old alma mater that I took last week when I was there for Ned Gilmore’s presentation on fossils.

Welcome to Riverton School

Out front, in addition to an attractive historical marker, visitors find locked doors, video surveillance, and an intercom for requesting permission to enter, measures unheard of during the “Wonder Years” of our youth.

plaques and awards for student achievement

Inside, dozens of award plaques and trophies displayed in glass cabinets are a testament to many years of student achievement.

a remarkably clean facility

Painted stars on the hallway floor are a somber reminder of the social-distancing requirement that is no longer in effect. Be glad that you missed that.

award plaques

Dozens of framed eighth-grade graduation photos line the walls of the first-floor hallway, a custom started by former principal/superintendent Ronald (Rip) Kline. Mr. Kline was a great proponent of awarding and publicizing student achievement. The quantity and variety of student award plaques expanded during his administration starting in 1974.

One might assume that the school would have class photos going back to when the school was built, but most were missing when we started. We began the display with only a handful of photos.

I say ‘we’ because, back then, the school offered summer employment to some teachers to perform summer maintenance tasks such as cleaning windows and painting classrooms. Ron Cosgrove, Paul Hashagen, and I installed the aluminum tracking used to display the framed photos and student work.

8th Grade Class of 1924 – orig. scan
8th Grade Class of 1924 – restored

Over several years I sought out more class photos by word of mouth and acquired 23 additional scans of graduation photos. After some photo restoration, I had prints made and donated them to the school.

Thank You to the following folks for helping
to recover 23 missing 8th-Grade class photos

Annette Brown, Tracey Brown, Jeff Cole, Peggy Trauger Crook, Don and Pam Deitz, Ed Gilmore, Judy Jacobsen, Mabel Kloos, Cheryl Smekal, Elsie Waters, Steve Weeks

I retired in 2009, but former teacher Mabel Kloos asked me to prepare for her a slide show entitled “A Short History of Riverton School” for the 100th Anniversary Celebration in 2010. I posted the slideshow and notes here in 2012.

I included in that presentation an appeal for others to come forward with missing photos with the aim of completing the record of eighth-grade graduation photos.

Another post in 2012 repeated the request, but that was ages ago, so we appeal to our readers again.

Note that at least 25 graduation photos remain missing.

This school building was located at the corner of 4th and Howard, facing Howard St. (now on the basketball court/playground).
Sonny Wright, standing, likely in front of 1892 school, courtesy of Elsie Waters

Students of Riverton history will recall that public education in Riverton did not start with the construction of the current school in 1910. There may well be more graduation photos that go back to the 1892 school.

Every passing year diminishes the likelihood that more photos will surface.

Where can you look, or who can you check with to help complete the set?

More photos follow of every class photo on display in the hallway. The resolution isn’t great, but you might see someone you know. -JMc

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Just added a new page that explains the eligibility for adding names to the Riverton War Memorial Honor Roll

This plaque displays the name of Navy veteran Mr. Gene J. Bandine, at left, and dozens of others added since Memorial Day 2011.

At the request of William C. Brown Jr. of the Riverton Military & Veterans Affairs Committee, we added a new page that explains the eligibility for adding names to the Riverton War Memorial Honor Roll.

If you are viewing this on a computer, use the menu that is visible at the left side of the screen to navigate to the Riverton War Memorial – Veteran Eligibility page.

If, instead, you view this website on a mobile phone, access the menu by tapping on the menu icon (three horizontal lines )  at the top of your screen.

A presentation by Ned Gilmore on fossils and those who collected them, March 21, 2023

Soon after the publicity post for Ned Gilmore’s March talk on local fossils went up in February, it drew more interest, likes, and shares than usual. A quick round of emails between board members came to a consensus.

We’re gonna need a bigger room.

Our usual meeting place in the back room of Riverton Free Library only holds less than 40 people, so we scrambled to come up with another venue.

Where can we go that can handle more people, hook us up with the necessary tech, and is free?

HSR President Bill Brown introduced Mr. Gilmore.

Heather filled out a form to request permission to use Riverton Public School, and Susan checked with school staff to ensure that chairs, some tables, and a projector with a laptop on a cart would be ready for the evening presentation.

Bill Brown, Ned Gilmore

The decision to move the presentation proved correct when 59 people showed up to attend Ned’s authoritative and detailed lecture.

There’s a reason he is nicknamed “Nature Ned.”

Ned’s experience as a local resident, collector, and Collection Manager for Vertebrate Paleontology at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University highly qualifies him to speak on how, where, and by whom fossils have been found in our state since the 1800s.

Former teacher Susan Dechnik recalled taking her 3rd-grade classes to the Academy to hear Ned. In 2015, Ned met Bill and Nancy Hall, Jeannie Francis, Linda McCormick, and me at the Academy to hear author Ken Frank’s lecture on Japanese beetles.

Academy of Nat. Sci. beetle collection 2015

While there, Ned directed us to the museum’s massive collection of the insect scourge that has infested crops here and across the US since it arrived in Dreer’s Nursery in Riverton.

Ned recalled being in Mrs. Harker’s class.

Now presenting an academic lecture in his old alma mater (RPS Class of 1974), Ned introduced his talk by displaying a photo of his first-grade class with teacher Mrs. Doris Harker.

presentation slide, N. Gilmore

Ned explained how New Jersey’s unique geology has determined where fossils of dinosaurs, giant white sharks, and mastodons have been found.

A young dinosaur enthusiast inspects fossilized fern impressions in slate

Ned illustrated his talk with slides depicting museum specimens of various eras found in New Jersey from the Academy of Natural Sciences…

…and supported it with dozens of actual fossils from the author’s collection.

Ned engaged with a young dinosaur fanatic in the first row.

At the end, Ned fielded some questions pitched by the appreciative audience that included a few enthusiastic school-age children, a demographic seldom drawn to our events. Seeing a graduate of their school may well have kids dreaming of a career in science.

Was it Ned’s reputation as an expert paleontologist, the public’s thirst to attend an event after a covid induced dearth of activity, or the ability of social media to boost events the reason for our swelled ranks that night?

A bit of all three, possibly. Whatever the case, we’ll take the win.

-JMc, photos by Susan Dechnik and JMc



Tom Parry composed four quatrain verses about his youth in Riverton

My challenge to readers on March 2 to compose a quatrain poem about a scene of their youth in Riverton was met brilliantly by Tom Parry. He wrote four, and together they depict a vivid scene from “back in the day.” -JMc, Ed.

On the corner of Main Street and Broad,
Stood Cottington’s General store,
Was I in 6th grade or 7th,
Those details don’t come to the fore.

I went in with a friend, Mackie,
To buy a pack of cigs,
Came out with a pack of L&M,
Man, we thought we were the bigs.






The folks, they both smoked Winston,
Didn’t give it much of a thought,
But with their friends over one night,
I found out that I’d been caught.








Mom rarely lost her cool,
No yelling, no stomping the floor,
Just picked up my pack of L&M,
And said, ” Care of I have one of yours?”

Annotated poem, “Rhyme of Old Riverton,” to Marjorie Marcy Crowell by Therese Spackman Barclay Willits, 1974


In 1974 Therese Spackman Barclay Willits wrote the following poem to her lifelong friend Marjorie Marcy Crowell on the occasion of her 80th Birthday. A copy of it was placed in the Riverton Library, where your writer found it about 20 years ago, and would like to share it with the Gaslight News Readers.

Marjorie Marcy Crowell, daughter of Dr. Alexander and Mrs. Marcy, was born in 1894 at the home of her parents at 406 Main St. and lived there all of her life. She died in 1979. Therese Spackman Barclay Willits was born in the home of her grandfather, Joseph Campbell, on Main St. because the new home of her parents at 205 Lippincott Avenue was not quite finished in December 1889. She lived there after her first marriage, moved to the Philadelphia suburbs for a time after her second, and then came back to Riverton. She was past her 100th birthday when she died. BBH April 2001

Dear Marge, though it’s not customary
I crave of you a present,
A piece of time, I hope may be
For both of us most pleasant.






We’ll both stretch out upon the deck
Down at the Jersey shore,
And cast our memories back upon
The Riverton of yore.

The New Era, Aug 30, 1923, p2

When all the streets were dusty roads
Wet by a watering cart,
And little friendly stores there were,
And no big shopping mart.

1909 RPPC postcard, Main Street, Riverton, NJ

There were no buses then or cars,
But ten steam trains a day,
And later on a trolley car,
A slower cheaper way.

P.R.R. Station, Palmyra, N.J. c.1906

The doctors drove in buggies,
The country round about,
Delivering babies in their homes
And treating croup to gout.

Horse drawn wagon on Main Street, no date PHOTO CREDIT: MARY FLANAGAN

The iceman brought great blocks of ice,
Nice Harvey, big and black…
He wore a great thick rubber pad
On one side of his back.

Weikman ice wagon

If a thieving girl climbed the wagon step
He’d grin and never scold her
But mark, and cut, and weigh a chunk
And toss it to his shoulder!





Mr. Tippenhouer, the butcher
And the grocer Mr. Frank,
Came weekly to take orders
For all we ate and drank.

Butcher Ezra Perkins had his shop at 606 Main Street, rescued from curbside trash by Lorraine Gambone







Any forgotten item
Had to remain unknown–
We couldn’t call about it,
for no one had a phone.

The New Era, 1965 Anniv. Issue

Mrs. Smith sold “notions”
And penny candy too-
We’d ponder there, before the case
To chose, as children do.

Mrs Alfred Smith Store, c1926, RoR frame 28976

There were no movies or TV
But lectures, plays and dances
Held within the Lyceum’s doors
Remember learning lancers?

pre-1908 Lyceum photo from glass plate by Richard Gaughan 1976

In a little house on Main street
Lived “Uncle George Senatt.”
He loved all kids, and for us
There was welcome on the mat.

Uncle George Senat in reading room of present library building, 1887. Original owned by Nancy and Bill Hall

He fed us all on peanuts,
And like to see us come.
His little house was later
The Riverton Library’s home.

Riverton Free Library, undated

The Library in those days
Was in the Parish House
And in it we were quiet
As any small church mouse.

Christ Episcopal Church, Rectory, Parish House






In the reading room a rubber plant
Hid a chair in a little nook,
and that is where I’d make for
With a Henty or Alcott book!

books by G.A. Henty and L.M. Alcott






The Pansy Club, Mrs. Marcy’s scheme
To make us keen and wise–
“Read one half hour every day
And you will get a prize!”

Pansy Club Rules, St. Nicholas Magazine, Volume 28, Part 2, 1901, p1129







We went to school to Mrs. Sharp-
You were the “little one”
And there the jon was out of doors
Which we considered fun!

Gertrude Wright, undated school photo at Riverton School, built 1892

We went to Lothrop’s studio
To have our pictures taken–
It seemed like nearly every year
If I am not mistaken.

Charles Horace Haines, Lothrop photography 7.25″ X 5.25″









The drugstore, you remember,
Run by Mr. Copperthwaite.
It had delicious sodas,
And if you had a date

Riverton Journal, Oct 17, 1882, p1








Who only had one nickel
It mattered not, because
He’d hand one foaming soda out
with two diverging straws!






Dreer’s Nursey had a fine display
Of flowers, vines and trees;
We always took our company
To “Oh” and “Ah” at these!

Dreer Trial Gardens






The lily ponds were fabulous,
Some plants had pads so large
A small child could stand upon one
You ever try it, Marge?

Dreer Nursery – Victoria Trickeri Lily Pond






We played down at the river
Where the “John A” and the “Annie L”
Traveling up to Trenton
Made rollies that were swell

Steamer John A. Warner, real photo given by Bob & Peggy Morris







We powdered stones on the river wall
“For medicine” says you-
For me a muddy sort of paint
Or like attractive brew.

Riverton Yacht Club, Riverton, NJ 7-17-1939






We watched the 5 o’clock boats
On summer afternoons,
And Sonny Wright dived off the deck!
Sometimes a band played tunes.

Sonny Wright, RPS photo cropped







The Columbia, a big boat
Stopped at the wharf for freight.
And for commuting men folk
The “Sight Bell” rang at eight.

Steamer Columbia, 1905 postmark, scan Ed Gilmore






At shad run, in the spring time
We’d watch the floated net
Be windlassed in the upon the shore
And pretty soon we’d get

Faunce shad fishery capstan, The New Era 1909 Christmas Issue






A great big squirming glistening shad
Can there be better show?
The price was just a quarter- –
Think what that would be now!


Mending the Nets, Palmyra, N.J.






We learned to swim at Frishmuth’s Wharf
And dive from off the float.
We thought we had it made when we
Could reach their anchored boat.

Home of J. Frishmuth, Lindsay-Fitler Album






We ate our sandwich lunches
In a leaky old boat.
It kept one of us bailing
For her to stay afloat.

postcard published by The New Era






When older, we paddled to Taylor’s
For beach fires on the sand
And floated back in the moonlight
And wished we need never land!

Moonlight on the Delaware River, Riverton, NJ 4-5-1910






There were catboat races on weekends-
Good sailors not a few!
And many a wistful wharf-rat
In hopes of a chance to crew.

44 – (unidentified catboat possibly Olga) from Lindsay-Fitler Album









We sailed to Burlington Island
And lay becalmed all night,
While we were singing and laughing
Our families fought off fright.

Burlington Island Amusement Park 1905, westjerseyhistory






We followed the winding Pompeston
from marshland back to the wood
Where we had hilarious picnics
(where my sons later played Robin Hood!)

Swimming in Pompeston Creek, scan from Joseph and Mary Bintliff Yearly








A place we called “1000 Islands”
Was covered with flowers in spring-
We crossed a tree bridge to reach it,
A daring and dangerous thing!

Iris Garden at Dreer’s Nursery 1909






Back then there were tall groves of chestnut
Before the chestnut blight,
We went every fall to despoil them–
Those nuts were a beautiful sight!

Natural History by Alex Fletcher – New York 1869









We flung sticks high to dislodge them
From their prickly velvet lined burrs-
And they pattered like rain in their falling
Through thickets of redolent firs.

botanical chart chestnuts









I remember in election years,
After stormy political sessions,
The men came swarming down the street
In noisy light processions.

Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 3, 1890









With shouts and banners
Drum and fife,
And great flares lighting
The autumn night.

Taft campaign postcard, 1908







The diamond of our famous nine
Was up “above the tracks”,
Also the livery stable
Where one could hire hacks.

Riverton 1872 Baseball Team as seen in Sporting Life, Magazine, April, 1922, courtesy Bill Hall







And then in nineteen hundred
An era new was off,
The Country Club was started
And all the rage was golf!

Golf c1926, RoR frame 40600 screenshot






Oh later we played hockey
that brought you to fame
I played it, too, more feebly
But loved it just the same.

Marjorie Marcy Crowell field hockey equipment








In winter there was “hitching”
Can skiing be more fun?
Your sled would need a lengthy rope
If steering well were done!

1896 Snow House – cabinet card, scan courtesy Elsie Waters









From any sleigh or wagon–
“Bell and Frank’s” was the best
One hitch out, another back–
The round trip gave it zest.

Gertrude Wright out for a sleigh ride in Palmyra, 1914






We knew the sound of sleigh bells
Upon the frosty air–
The river froze and ice boats
And skaters darted there.

Ice Skaters on Delaware River – Lee Cook, Sonny Wright, Mr Allen 1908 PHOTO CREDIT: ELSIE WATERS







Parades would walk across then
Clear to the Pennsy shore
But modern navigation
Permits that never more.

post WW1 parade, July 5, 1920







July the 4th, red letter day–
Our patriotic town
Had speeches, races and parade
The like was never found.

Mayor Killiam Bennet, July 5, 1920







The great parade marched down the street
From old Joe Roberts’ store,
With beating drums and blaring brass
Down to the river’s shore.

Children’s Parade, c1907, postcard scan courtesy of Nick Mortgu






The band was smartly costumed
With epaulets on shoulders,
Traditionally the march they played
Was “Onward Christian Soldiers”.

July 4, 1924 stereoview, Elsie Waters






The judges judged the costumes
And decorated floats,
The breeze blew all the children’s flags
And gaily bannered boats.

Elsie Showell and brother John, Riverton July 5, 1920







The speeches that were heard that day
Were fiery and ornate,
We swelled with pride to hear them–
Far cry from Watergate!!

July 5, 1920 D’olier speaking







And all the day’s activities
Were on the river bank.
And families came to picnic,
And napped and ate and drank.

Riverton Yacht Club – enjoying a good time, scan courtesy Nick Mortgu







They watched the races, tub to yacht
And also the canoe
In which participating were
Sometimes me and you.

canoes and small plane in river, scan courtesy Mary Flanagan






Until at dusk the fireworks!!
And again the band would play.
And then the final “set piece”
Would end the glorious day.

Riverton Fireworks, 8-20-2008 scan courtesy Richard Flach







From Sunday School on Sunday
Till baths on Saturday night
Dawns then rose clear and rosy
And sunsets clouds were bright.

Teresa Hartnett RYC sunset June 6, 2019







So, Marge, come talk about it,
There may be more to say!
I really do expect you,
So set the time, come May!


Then & Now at the Williams & Wright Bldg.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Williams-Wright fire, May 19, 2022, PHOTO: David Gusky

That is a “Then & Now” view of the monolithic commercial building that suffered heavy damage from a fire in May 2022.

The Williams-Wright Building has dominated the Broad and Main intersection for a century.


Here’s another…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

work starting on Williams Wright, The New Era, May 5, 1922, p2

I briefly mentioned the Williams-Wright Bldg. in a recent post entitled “1923,” and return here to add some details to the history of that building that has seen so many businesses come and go.

future Williams Wright property at Broad Main, The New Era, June 16, 1922, p2

The building was erected in 1923, but planning started in 1922. A New Era clipping reports that work started, and L.F. Lowden won the construction contract.

Williams Wright progressing, The New Era, July 28, 1922, p2

Well over a year away from completion, tenants were already lined up, including Riverton-Palmyra Water Co., a Knight & Company novelty print shop, an American Store, and Woolston’s auto dealership.

Except for one building that variously served as a grocery or candy and cigar store, that corner of Main and Broad Streets had remained undeveloped for more than the prior 15 years. That store, known as Adolph’s Cigar and Tobacco Shop in 1900 and later, Theobald Schneider’s, was razed to make way for the construction of the Williams Wright building.

News articles in May, June, and July 1922 associate Charles A. Wright and E.L. Williams with the property at Broad and Main, which is at odds with…

Williams Wright Bldg, 525-531 Main St., description from 1999 Historic Riverton, p40 District application

…the information in two entries of Riverton’s 1999 Historic District Application that, taken together, imply that the Williams referred to is Edward H. Williams, a baseball payer and holder of various local government positions.

While plenty of supporting references show that an Edward Williams of Riverton was indeed a baseball player, local government official, and even an amateur thespian, it appears to be a different Williams – Edward R. Williams, not Edward H.

The Williams involved with the William-Wright Building is more likely the brother of Edward R. Williams, E.L.Williams, AKA Earl L. Williams.

Cinnaminson Natl Bank, Riverton, NJ 1910

E.L. Williams served as president of Cinnaminson Bank and treasurer for Riverton Country Club. As their building was nearing completion, he and Charles A. Wright served as officers of the Riverton-Palmyra Water Company at the same time. Williams was a charter member of the Riverton Improvement Association, an organization conceived with the aim of improving Riverton’s streets.

Williams’ position as a banker put him in a position to influence the growth of businesses for many years, including his selection later as treasurer for  Evans Coal and Lumber in 1938.

Tacony-Palmyra Bridge & ferry RPPC. CREDIT: Paul W. Schopp Collection

Williams joined with Wright to become an early supporter of establishing a ferry service.

Williams and Wright, each stalwart Republicans, had also served as directors of the Cinnaminson Bank at the same time for several years, so they had extensive business experience with each other.

“above the fold” announcement of the opening of Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, The New Era, Aug 14, 1929

Charles A. Wright moved from Philadelphia to Riverton at 305 Bank Avenue in 1887.

He established the Standard Index Card Co. at 701-707 Arch St. in Philadelphia and served as its president.

Wright served as a director of the Tacony-Palmyra Ferry Co., masterminded the building of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, and was on the original Cinnaminson Bank board of directors. He was an early supporter of the Riverton-Palmyra Water Co. and later served as its president, in addition to being active in many other civic and social capacities.

In 1942, in his 82nd year, he had 23 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Two years later, an automobile struck and killed him on his way to work.

Each gentleman was a pioneering mover and shaker of Riverton development.

Lowden progress on Williams Wright Bldg, The New Era, Feb 1, 1923, p2

One might assume that Riverton was ongoing a lot of building activity then because builder Louis F. Lowden was working on five residences at about the same time.

debris gone, Williams Wright, The New Era, March 15, 1923, p2

Back then, folks kept up on the progress of projects, politics, the comings and goings of neighbors, sales deals, and local affairs by reading weekly hometown newspapers.

For the kids in the audience, newspapers were printed publications usually issued daily, weekly, or at other regular times that provided news, views, features, and other information of public interest, often carrying advertising.

Kind of like the Facebook and Twitter of today, but no thousand-dollar device or batteries were required. This link will open a PDF file for the March 1924 issues of The New Era newspaper. It’s searchable (CNTRL+f), but the character recognition is not great.

American Store in Williams Wright, The New Era, Feb 22, 1923, p2

1944 PHS Band July 4th Parade, Sparks Auto, Main St, Riverton

Moving the Williams-Wright story along, The American Store, a grocery chain, was the first to enjoy the new digs in February 1923.

American Stores ad, Courier-Post, 11 Nov 1924, p16

The store is visible in the background of the 1944 PHS photo shown earlier.

We hear complaints today about the high cost of eggs. According to, those 45¢/dz eggs would be $7.72 today! The actual US City average cost per dozen for large Grade A eggs for Feb. 2023 (latest available data) is $4.21.

first Keating open ad, The New Era, May 17, 1923, p2

The next month, Theodoro’s Shoe Repair set up shop in the new building. Lawrence and Blanche Keating’s Drugstore opened its doors on the corner in May.

Perhaps no other business in the Williams Wright building has evoked such a flood of nostalgia from our senior generation than this long-gone gathering place.

Keating’s Drugstore, undated postcard

Keating’s Drug Store carried “…a full line of patent medicines, gifts, stationery, toilet articles, candies, tobacco, greeting cards, ice cream, etc.” Keating’s Drug Store may have continued operation through the mid-1950s.

Water Works, Palmyra, N.J.

In July 1923, Riverton-Palmyra Water Company moved from across the street at 522 Main to a second-floor office in the Williams-Wright Building. Pretty shrewd business move, considering that Williams and Wright were officers in the company at the time, along with two other Wright relatives, Robert Knight and Walter Wright. The water company moved its office to Palmyra in 1929.

The New Era, Nov 1, 1923, p1

Clinton Woolston Star Agency, RoR frame 11722

Clinton B. Woolston’s Star auto dealership came on board in January 1924. The accommodation provided for a 1369 sq. ft. showroom, 1040  sq. ft. workshop, and a 3190 sq. ft. car storage room.

Woolston Carriage Works, undated photo, rescued from curbside trash by Lorraine Gambone

The Woolstons were old hands at sales of vehicles, starting with his father, Charles T. Woolston. He made and sold carriages in Riverton on 7th St. near Main and later transitioned to selling automobiles in about 1905, just in time to shrewdly usher in the Dawn of the Motor Age.

In 1915, Clinton, Charles’ son, having spent ten years learning from his father, started out on his own in the industry at Front and Penn. Outgrowing that, he moved to Broad and Lippincott briefly and then to the new Williams Wright Building.

Woolston BroadMain, The New Era, Dec 1, 1932, p9

The New Era, Aug 5, 1937, p7

As indicated by Woolston’s late 1932 ads in newspapers, Clinton Woolston supplemented his sales of Plymouth, DeSoto, and Hupmobile autos by adding a line of refrigerators and radios; he added washing machines three years later.

Can you believe that in 1937, Riverton had three automobile dealerships and a service station within its borders?

Woolston Esso Station, Broad and Howard, The New Era, Dec 7, 1939, p7

Woolston pivoted in 1938 and built an Esso service station on the site of the old Roberts Building at the point of Main and Howard.

Carvel Sparks, another car sales dealer, occupied the space in the Williams Wright Building left vacated by Woolston from about 1944 to 1958.



We covered many more details about his auto dealership in 2020 during the COVID lockdown. See more about Carvel Sparks here. He and his wife were very much an active part of the community from c1940-1960.

Nellie Bly Ice Cream, Burlington County Times, April 10, 2005

Over the years, other businesses have resided in the Williams Wright Building.

The Main Street side currently houses the law office of  Thomas H. Ehrhardt at 527 Main,  and The Nellie Bly Old Tyme Ice Cream Parlour at 529 Main. Ownership of Nellie Bly’s has changed hands since its opening in 2005.

Other establishments have come and gone… Lamon Associates Realtor, Loretta Turner Dance Studio (at least 1980-1983), and Yoga Tree have each previously occupied the corner location (531 Main). Also disappeared are Once Upon A Canvas, and Noreen Turner Photography on the Broad Street side, and on the Main Street side, Thomas H. Ehrhardt Law Offices, American Furniture (c1971-1974), and Salon Premier.

The May 2022 fire displaced numerous families from the upstairs apartments (#525-531), shuttered Revive Cafe and Bella Buds & Co. Floral Design Studio, and caused Nellie Bly’s to only sell pre-packaged pints for a time near the gazebo on Main Street. Dynasty Exteriors at 527 Main Street remains in business. Building repairs are underway, but it could be several more months.

Building owner, Joe Ranier, tells us, “Construction is coming along (although a little slow). We are currently reframing the entire 2nd floor. The roof is done, and we should be installing a new cornice soon. With any luck, the building should be back in service before the end of this year.

Did we miss any? What Williams Wright business do you remember? Send a comment and a photo if you can. -JMc

ADDED 3/18/2023: We did mistakenly omit a storefront from the current list. Dynasty Exteriors at 527 Main Street specializes in doors, siding, windows, and roofing.

ADDED: We mistakenly included Thomas H. Ehrhardt Law Offices at 527 Main, but the office had moved across the street to 524 Main in 2019. Thank you to Margaret Augustyn O’Donnell for pointing out that Loretta Turner Dance Studio was on the corner.

Memories of The Sharon Shoppe and its predecessors

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Sharon Shoppe operated under two other aliases and other owners before these c1970 photos, including The Sharon Shop and Sharon Sweet Shop.

Recently, Shirley Kolarovik Donato shared some vintage photos of the very much-missed Sharon Shoppe that her parents owned in the 1970s.

So is this Riverton history?

Of course!

The images related to Riverton’s history don’t have to be a century old to be of interest. The good ol’ days of one generation are almost unrelatable ancient history to another. If an antique is something that is at least 100 years old, then maybe these 50-year-old photos can be considered vintage.

From my recollection, on any given school day, the squirming backsides of a capacity crowd of children would be occupying those stools and tables at lunchtime.

RPS Staff 1973-1974

Adults usually headed to a no-kids zone in the back room where an always ebullient Hannah patiently jotted down orders and served everyone. If I concentrate, I think I can hear Miss Jacobsen and Mrs. Kloos talking in the back room. Mabel’s usual was a grilled cheese sandwich made with a single piece of cheese and Boost.

1905 Sanborn Ins Map, sheet 3 detail 412-414 Main St labeled

The building occupied by the Sharon Shoppe previously housed a dry goods store called Mrs. Alfred Smith’s Store from about 1905-1946.

Riverton Hardware, 414 Main, The New Era, April 25, 1946, p4

A March 1946 news item mentioned that Mr. Hamelman would open a hardware and paint store on the premises.

And so he did, as evidenced by this optimistic April 25, 1946 opening announcement ad. A glowing May 2 ad followed the next week and bragged of “gratifying results.”

The New Era, Aug 22, 1946, p3

Local papers do not hint at what became of the new hardware store, but just three months later, in August 1946, The Sharon Sweet Shop opened under the ownership of Charlotte Riddle.

Sharon’s Sweet Shop menu, The New Era, April 1, 1948, p4

Two months later, without explanation, the name Harry E. Riddle replaced the proprietor’s name, and ads ran almost every week for a few years.

I could go for that BLT and a cup of coffee about now.

The New Era, Nov 3, 1949, p7

The New Era announced in 1949 that ownership changed to Bus and Carl McAllister, a pair of Riverton brothers and PHS grads who became active in the business affairs of Palmyra and Riverton for many years.

The record does not show much for the years leading up to ownership by the Kolaroviks (we have precious few local newspapers from the 1950s-1960s).

Sharon Shoppe help-wanted, Courier-Post, 31 Jan 1967, p29

Considering that this January 1967 help-wanted ad now calls the luncheonette The Sharon Shoppe instead of the former Sharon Sweet Shop, is that a hint that maybe they started earlier than 1970?

What do you recall of the Sharon Shoppe (or Sharon Shop or Sharon Sweet Shop)?

Gotta ask… The pages of out-of-print hometown newspapers and even the throw-away free advertisement circulars such as The Little Paper and The Positive Press serve as primary source material for the person researching local history. Please contact us if you have old photos, postcards, ephemera, advertising collectibles, and such that you can donate, or let us scan them. -JMc, Ed.

PS: Thank you to Bill Moore for brokering this deal to get Shirley to locate and send in these photos of the family business.

May 17, 2023: This just in from Shirley Kolarovik Donato…

I found some more old photos of the Sharon Shop from 1969 with the former plate glass windows and the Breyers Ice Cream sign. They are probably from before my family purchased it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our newsletter is available online only

Eighteen years ago, our mailing list included over 150 member households plus another 27 historical societies, institutions, and libraries to which we mailed complimentary copies.

Fewer than 90 households currently support the efforts of the Historical Society of Riverton with their membership, and that diminishing support has necessitated some changes.

stuffing GN Nov 2013

We went paperless over two years ago because the time and expense involved in printing, stamping and stuffing envelopes, and mailing newsletters became burdensome and expensive.

One advantage: The current online format issues are not limited to four pages in length as the print versions were.

The online format offers the ability to include bold print links that direct to additional supporting content.

Gaslamp watercolor by Rosemary Hutchins

Most images enlarge with a double tap on your phone or double-click with your mouse on a computer. Try it⇒

When printed, the current issue takes up 15 pages, a length that is not practical to print and mail. The savings effected with the online format allow us to direct our limited resources to create an awareness of our heritage, programs, and our preservation efforts.

Nonetheless, we hope that you continue to find articles that inform with the same enthusiasm found in that first issue published 194 issues and 48+ years ago.

Yikes! Just dawned on me that a third of those happened since 2007, when I became editor. (I guess that counts as a humble brag.)

Here are instructions for how to print anything from the website.

Open the page you want. Right-mouse click to open the drop-down menu and choose print.

-JMc, Ed.

How often do you visit

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Please express your concerns below in the comments or go to the Contact and Membership tab.