Under the Boardwalk

Under The Board Walk, Stone Harbor, New Jersey

An avid postcard collector recently acquired this classic postcard on eBay. In it, a number of people find shelter from the summer sun under the boardwalk. A young man in knickers, the woman in a long checkered skirt and summer millinery, the fashionable man wearing white slacks and shoes, dark jacket, bowtie, and fedora, and a number of bathers are each captured as they posed over ninety years ago.

Postmarked APR 4, 1929 at Stone Harbor, NJ, and placed in the mailstream to a recipient at the Y.M.C.A. in Binghamton, N.Y., the penned message states, “My nose is all red and it isn’t from drinking either.” The postcard depicts the popular Stone Harbor Boardwalk before the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 destroyed it.  These chronologically arranged vintage views circa 1918-1944 document that long-gone Stone Harbor attraction.

The Boardwalk at Stone Harbor, New Jersey

by Harlan B. Radford, Jr.

The boardwalk at the seashore resort community known as Stone Harbor, NJ is a distant memory that few can now recall. The following picture postcards and photographs serve as proof of the one and a half-mile long boardwalk from 83rd Street to 106th Street that once existed there for 28 years.

Scene on the Boardwalk and Beach, Stone Harbor, NJ Aug 15, 1927 Note Coca-Cola and Hires soft drink signs on building

The term boardwalk describes a walkway or promenade, often elevated, typically constructed of wooden planking, and is located along a beach.  Atlantic City became the first seashore resort to construct a boardwalk back in 1870 to curb the amount of sand beachcombers tracked into the train and hotel lobbies. According to National Geographic, the State of New Jersey has 28 boardwalks and promenades – more than any other state.

Those of us who have personally experienced the charm of boardwalks at other locations, either today or yesteryear, are reminded of their immense popularity and the many attractions they offer. “Walking the boards” or leisurely strolling the boardwalk, often at the end of a day, provided countless opportunities for fun and relaxation including souvenir shopping, entertainment, arcades, miniature golf, saltwater taffy, and delicious fudge.

Greetings From Stone Harbor, NJ

If the number one attraction of the Jersey Shore is the sandy beaches, then boardwalks may be the second most popular reason why people flock to seashore communities during the summer months. Stone Harbor built its boardwalk in 1916. But we all know that mother nature and the mighty forces of the ocean have on numerous occasions not been kind to boardwalks and oceanfront properties.

Philadelphia Inquirer, Sept 16, 1944, p1, 16

Stone Harbor boardwalk’s reckoning came on September 14, 1944, when a particularly devastating storm, which became known as the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944, struck the New Jersey coast. Stone Harbor lost its entire boardwalk to this monster storm. The boardwalks of Sea Isle City, Atlantic City, Ocean Grove, Asbury Park, and Long Branch all suffered similar fates.

Residents assessed the extent of damage and the replacement costs associated with rebuilding not only the Stone Harbor boardwalk but also a 500-foot fishing pier out into the ocean and a covered pavilion at 96th Street. They agreed that there was a greater value of having unobstructed ocean views and consequently decided not to have the boardwalk rebuilt. A few resorts like Atlantic City and Asbury Park would rebuild.

In all my years of collecting postcards, one thing I have never seen is any view that shows the damaged Stone Harbor boardwalk immediately after that storm.  If you have one, please share it.

The following 38 vintage picture postcards featuring the Stone Harbor boardwalk are arranged in chronological order starting with views taken around 1918 and progressing to the time of the boardwalk’s sudden demise in 1944.

In the absence of the boardwalk, years later, beach umbrellas entered the picture and proved useful and popular as a means of escaping the direct sunlight on those hot afternoons. While we can only anticipate the reopening of shore businesses, beaches, and boardwalks in New Jersey and are excited for ‘Stage 2’ of Gov. Phil Murphy’s reopening plan, check out these views, and at least enjoy this virtual trip back in time!


Solving a Mystery: Who was this shy little girl, Lois Grant?

We love this picture – her expression looks like her mother just told her very sternly, “now HOLD STILL!”  It’s exquisite, the image just 2-1/2” high.  So who was she?

Hint – her father built a number of houses here in Riverton.  (Yeah, that hint wouldn’t have helped us, either…)

We love when our members and readers give us puzzles to solve.  You never know where they’ll lead.

Recently, thanks to a reader’s inquiry sent to this website by Beverly DeFelice of Red Bank, NJ, whose father had collected tintypes and left her one of a little girl who was from Riverton, NJ. – from 1859 – we were faced with a mystery.  Beverly knew the picture wasn’t of her father’s family, but who was it?  She asked if we might know anything and does the family still exist?

(Tintypes, also called ferrotypes, were most popular in the 1860s and 70s and made with light-sensitive emulsion on a thin sheet of lacquered iron.  They were much more durable than the previous photos on glass, such as daguerreotypes and ambrotypes and were very popular.  The process was patented in 1856 so our example here is quite early.)

As you’ll see, it has a gold leaf mat and on the back paper is written, in fountain pen ink and old handwriting “Lois W. Grant, Riverton, N.J.  Taken 1859.  Age 6 years.”

But the picture wire and screweyes don’t feel like 1859 and neither does the sticker that says “Darmstaetter’s, Lancaster PA.”  What’s that about?

Nothing about this rang bells, but then, with a little digging …

Ancestry.com is a great place to start.  A single search of that name, in Riverton, with that approximate birthdate, and – bingo – we have the 1860 Census that shows her living in a family of 6.  Unfortunately, there were no house numbers in those days, but this starts us on our quest. Her father’s name was Joel Grant, and his occupation was “carpenter.”

For those with access to an Ancestry account, we have a huge public tree we’ve been working on, called “Early Families of Riverton NJ” and we added Lois and Joel and a number of relatives to it.  Have a look here:  https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/tree/108021762/family/familyview?cfpid=322186642113  (You can also use the “Tree Search” button to look for anyone else we’ve been adding, Biddles, Parrishes, etc.)

Joel Grant photo coll. Randall Coury on Ancestry

With his name, we find that more than one Ancestry user has made a tree that includes this Joel Grant – and one of them has a picture of him!  Now we know what her father, that early house carpenter in Riverton, looked like.

So now we have a name of the grownup, let’s dig further …

The Historical Society of Riverton did a ton of research back in the early 1990s for our National Register Historic District nomination, and we have placed a copy of it online here:  https://rivertonhistory.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Historic-Riverton-District-app-1999.pdf

Since it’s a PDF, it’s easy to search for “Grant” and – wow – it turns out that our little girl’s father, Joel Grant, was the builder (and real estate developer on a modest scale) who gave us several buildings which still stand today.

Riverton National Register Historic District Inventory:

Also on our HSR website, of course, is our digitized newspaper collection, which helped with more.

Those buildings are: 401 Main, c. 1858; 406 Main Street, 1868; 400 Fulton Street, 1869; 521 Howard Street, 1881 – probably the “butcher shop of Mr. F. S. Pierce,” today much altered.

There were likely others, of course.

Since HSR board member Iris Gaughan and her husband Richard own 401 Main Street and they’ve recently researched all of the deeds for their house, it was an easy matter to find that our Joel Grant actually owned it for a long time, from 1858 to 1872.  Could this have been their home at the time of shy little Lois’ photograph?

detail from 1860 Stone & Pomeroy map shows Grant at 401 Main

Indeed – we have a map!  Attached to the National Register inventory is a dim copy of the Riverton detail of the 1860 Stone and Pomeroy Map of the Vicinity of Philadelphia, with the principal houses identified, and by golly, this one is marked “J. Grant.”

Guaranteed, this is where the little girl lived when her picture was taken.

So what became of the Grants, do they have surviving kin, and why was the tintype framed in Lancaster?

More fun with Ancestry.com and Newspapers.com came next.

Lois married Isaac Eastwood in Riverton in 1878.  He was a traveling salesman of dental supplies.  They seem to have lived with her parents, even after moving to Philadelphia in 1895, and never owned their own home.  Lois’ mother died in 1901, her father Joel the house carpenter died in 1904, and Lois and her husband boarded thereafter until his death in 1917.  His death certificate reads “cirrhosis of the liver,” an indication of long struggles for everyone.

Lois went to live in Upper Darby in the home of her grown daughter Ellen (“Ella”), and her husband, who had a nice new home in Upper Darby.  He was also a traveling salesman.

The 1920s seem to have been quietly domestic for them.  In 1934, our Lois died there at age 80 but then Ella lost her husband, Ralph, just three years later to a heart attack in 1937, at just 57 years of age.

Ralph had come from Lancaster County, so Ella moved there at some time after 1940, probably to live with or near her in-laws.

This would explain the “Darmstaetter’s” label on the paper on the back of the frame. Google tells us that Darmstaetter’s was a long-time photo and stationery store on Queen Street in Lancaster, so it’s easy to picture that, once she had settled in Lancaster County, Ella must have had the store reframe the tintype of her mother.

We can safely assume, then, that the fountain pen writing on the back is in Ella’s hand, recording for us the facts about her mother Lois.

Ella died there in 1953.  She and Ralph had just one child, a son Robert, who was also a traveling shoe salesman like his father.  He was single and had lived at home until he married at 37.  At some point he went to work for the Reading Railroad.

Robert had no children, dying in 1992 at age 80.

So now we know, Lois has no living descendants.  We contacted the family member on Ancestry who had the picture of Joel Grant (a descendant of one of Lois’ brothers).  He was fascinated with the story but he and Bev agreed that it’d be best for the little tintype to have its new home here in our archives.

We’ll never know how Robert’s cherished photo of his grandmother in 1859 made its way to Bev DeFelice’s father’s collection, but we are very grateful to Bev for taking on its stewardship and bringing it home to Riverton.

Thank you, Bev!  Moral of the story:  always write names and dates on the backs of photographs!  Without that, this would have been just another little picture that had lost all its meaning.  (Now, how do we do this with digital photographs? …a topic for another day.) – Roger Prichard

We urge you to wholeheartedly welcome back local businesses with your patronage

Hey, kids, raise your hand if you remember dealing with any of the businesses advertised on this June 6, 1932 New Era Business Directory.

Business Directory, The New Era, June 9, 1932, p5

Now, for extra credit, how many businesses listed there are still in operation?*

Businesses have come and gone over the years, but let’s not let COVID-19 be the reason that a local business can no longer thrive.

We all long for those times when we could patronize local stores unencumbered by masks, counter shields, and social distancing.

We look forward to June 15 when most — but not all — nonessential retail businesses in New Jersey will be allowed to reopen with shoppers inside stores; capacity will be limited to 50% and both customers and employees will be required to wear face coverings to protect against the coronavirus.

We thank all of the essential businesses that have opened under difficult circumstances.

We urge you to show your appreciation to local businesses by helping them to recover from the shutdown and again prosper.

Schwering Hardware, possibly first ad in Palmyra Weekly News, Sept 22, 1922

*Yeah, you got it.

Schwering’s Hardware has endured depressions, recessions, wars, and now a pandemic!  Steve and Suzanne Schwering will celebrate the absolutely essential establishment’s 100th birthday in 2022.

Disastrous Storms – Then and Now

Disastrous Storm, Camden Democrat, July 26, 1873, p2

The aftermath of the recent violent derecho storm system reminds us of other times that Riverton has suffered at the hands of Mother Nature.

tree near Cedar Street, Sept. 2013

In our own memory, we recall other trees downed from storms, but this time there were so many, not only here, but in surrounding towns of Palmyra, Delanco, and Palmyra, that PSE&G crews have been overwhelmed trying to restore power.

Please send us your photos and recollections of storm damage from this incident or from others back in the day.

Old Barney: The Light That Never Fails

Barnegat Lighthouse, Sept. 3, 1907

Old Barney: The Light That Never Fails

by Harlan B. Radford, Jr.

Old Barney

Affectionately called “Old Barney” and one of New Jersey’s best-known landmarks, the iconic lighthouse known as Barnegat Light is located on the northern tip of Long Beach Island and on the south shore of Barnegat Inlet. Mariners considered the Barnegat Lighthouse one of the most important “change of course” points for coastal vessels bound to and from New York along the New Jersey coast.

Its essential purpose was to warn ships away from the treacherous and shifting shoals which extended out from the shore. This particular area was very dangerous as ship captains had to contend with not only the shifting sandbars but with mighty currents as well.

Long Beach Island, New Jersey

Numerous illustrations and picture postcards both old and new will provide some historical background about the famous Barnegat Lighthouse.

What makes Old Barney so distinctive and recognizable as a navigational landmark is her colorization or her “daymark” features – that is to say the lighthouse has a red upper half and a white lower half. Barnegat Light as we know it has remarkably endured and served for 160 years!

Author Glenn D. Koch in his informative 2007 coffee-table book entitled “Picturing Long Beach Island” makes a good case for calling the Barnegat Lighthouse an iconic symbol that has become synonymous with Long Beach Island. Koch elaborates:

Her familiar red and white pattern of paint is immediately recognizable to anyone who has ever seen it. Her iconographic image has appeared on everything from bank checks to calendars to milk bottles and continues to appear on thousands of other souvenirs year after year. Since the earliest days of the postcard, publishers have been capturing and producing her image.

In 1834, Barnegat Light became the fourth sentinel on the New Jersey coast. Only 40 feet tall and with a very limited and dim beacon, this tower would soon prove itself to be wholly inadequate as the shipwrecks and groundings in that vicinity continued.

The passage of just two decades brought forth plans for the construction of a new and higher first-class lighthouse tower in 1856 with a considerably more powerful first-order lamp. Half-way through the construction of this new light, the original structure succumbed to the continual onslaught of the ocean. The replacement, which endures today, stands 170 feet tall and is situated some 900 feet from shore.

The only way to reach the top is by ascending 217 steps on a winding staircase. West Point graduate George Gordon Meade who later led Union troops during the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War hero engineered and supervised its construction.

The original light assembly, known as “Old Barney’s Eye,” was eventually removed and now resides at the Barnegat Light Historical Society Museum

The completion and official opening of this replacement lighthouse occurred on January 1, 1859. Its twin walls of brick, range 27 feet in diameter at the base to less than 15 feet at the top. A glass lantern house topped the tower. Interestingly, the original light assembly, known by some as “Old Barney’s Eye,” was eventually removed and now resides in the Barnegat Light Historical Society Museum located at 501 Central Ave, Barnegat Light, N.J.

Henri Lepaute of Paris fabricated that light assembly from glass made at the famous French Furnace at St. Gobian. It consists of 1,024 separate prisms mounted in bronze fittings forming a lens eight feet in diameter and fifteen feet high. Delicately balanced on heavy bronze rollers, the five-ton light could be rotated simply by the pressure of one’s little finger.

The original lamps were kerosene and consisted of five wicks of one, two, three, four, and five-inch diameters all placed within the other. The reservoir for the lamps held ten gallons of oil, consuming four and a half gallons a night in the summer and as much as seven and a half gallons a night in the winter. This fuel had to be carried daily by hand all the way up the spiral staircase to the light at the top.

Rotation of the light was accomplished by a 150-pound weight that was hung on a 65-foot steel cable and the entire mechanism operated much like the weights found in a typical grandfather clock. Is was said that Barnegat’s light had to be wound once every hour and that the lense revolved once every four minutes giving 24 distinct flashes, each lasting two seconds. The so-called “light characteristic” of Barnegat Light was determined to be a flash every ten seconds at each point of the compass and it had a range of twenty nautical miles.

A few years after the tower was finished, a two-story wick-house was added. Then in 1889, a large cottage for the lighthouse keepers and their families was completed. This 20-room, two-and-one-half story building consisted of three Victorian cottages that accommodated the keeper and his two assistants, who not only maintained the light but tended to the surrounding grounds.

Typically the lighthouse watch was divided into three daily shifts which occurred from sunset to 10PM, 10PM to 2AM, and 2AM to sunrise. Once a lighthouse keeper came on duty, he could not leave. It would take three men – a keeper and two able assistants to maintain the lighthouse each shift. It was vital that the lightkeeper kept the light turning and operational at all times.

The ocean’s relentless pounding eventually undermined the keeper’s house and by 1920 the remains were torn down PHOTO CREDIT: from the book Six Miles At Sea: A Pictorial History of Long Beach Island (© Down The Shore Publishing)

Unfortunately, it would not be long before the relentless pounding of the ocean, tides, and storms undermined the keeper’s house and by 1920 the remains were torn down.

The known lighthouse keepers in sequence to 1936 were as follows: 1. James Fuller, 2. Burch Brown, 3. Jack Kelley, 4. Joshua Reeves, 5.) Thomas Bills, 6. William Woodmansee, 7. Clarence H. Cranmer, 8. Andrew E. Applegate, 9. Robert E. Applegate and 10. William E. Rothes.

Over the years that have followed, men constantly struggled with nature and battled the inevitable erosion and storms. They undertook the construction of a number of rock jetties to try and slow the loss of land close to the inlet.

Beginning in 1943, during the construction of one such north jetty, two massive steel towers were built with cables strung across the entire Barnegat Inlet with one tower near the lighthouse on Long Beach Island and the other tower located on the other side of the inlet on the southern tip of what is known as Island Beach. One by one, on slings across the inlet, large granite boulders were carried by way of the strong elevated cables across the inlet and placed on railroad flatcars and taken by rail for placement by a crane to create the jetty. This huge undertaking took a couple of years to complete and was essential to preserving the integrity of the land area around the lighthouse itself.

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Barnegat Lightship PHOTO CREDIT: from the book Six Miles At Sea: A Pictorial History of Long Beach Island (© Down The Shore Publishing)

By 1927 Barnegat Lighthouse was decommissioned, the beacon went dark and the entire property was turned over to the state of New Jersey. From that point on to 1965, Barganet Light was replaced as a beacon by a lightship bearing the same name “Barnegat” that was manned by a crew of fourteen and anchored eight miles off-shore.

This new type of lightship was twin-masted and its role was to warn commercial ships of shallow water and shoals. Atop each of the masts were three oil-fed lanterns. In addition to a bright light at 8-second intervals, the ship was capable of emitting a loud steam-chime whistle every 20 seconds and during foggy conditions, there was a fog horn capable of being heard a distance of four miles. Over time, this lightship method became obsolete and after 38 years it was removed and replaced with radar and electronic means of navigation.

A bust of General George Meade overlooks the ocean at Barnegat Light State Park
1951, Barnegat Light designated as a State Park; formally dedicated 1957

For a while during the Second World War, the U. S. Coast Guard used Old Barney as a look-out station to keep watch for German submarines off the Jersey coast.

When world peace was restored the lighthouse was taken out of service and the site reverted back to control by New Jersey. In 1951, Barnegat Light was designated as a State Park and by 1957, the park was formally dedicated and a monument consisting of a plaque, and a bust of General George Meade was unveiled at the base of the light overlooking the ocean.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 5, 2008, p B11

In 1988, Barnegat Light closed for renovations and needed repairs. Work concluded three years later and Barnegat Light re-opened once more for visitors. After some 150 years, the famous landmark sported a new automated light on January 1, 2009, and thanks to preservationists was ceremonially re-lit to the delight of many.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, Jan 1, 2009, p B07

In order to satisfy Coast Guard specifications, this new light had to be an actual aid to navigation and not just a mere beacon. Happily, the current apparatus, a 100-watt, 42-pound VRB-25 light, imported from New Zealand satisfies and meets all Coast Guard requirements. Long may Old Barney’s light continue to beam brightly into the future.

Today, Barnegat Lighthouse State Park is New Jersey’s most visited state park, making it the most popular of the state’s ten original lighthouses, including Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City and Cape May Lighthouse. During normal operations, Barnegat Lighthouse is open to the public on weekends during the months of May, September, and October. The lighthouse is open every day beginning Memorial Day through Labor Day. Find current details and information here.

This author recalls times as a young child when in the late 1940s my father photographed me standing at the base or even atop Barnegat Lighthouse while on summer vacation to Harvey Cedars.

Anna Radford, Moorestown, NJ with son, Harlan Radford, 2000

Many years later, my mother and I ventured back down to the Jersey Shore and Long Beach Island and re-lived some distant memories at our favorite lighthouse. It was still possible then for my mother to climb those 217 steps to the very top with me and we marked our celebratory moment with a photo.

Helen-Chantal Pike in her 2001 book “Greetings from New Jersey: A Postcard Tour of the Garden State” by way of introduction explains the popularity of picture postcards:

Sending postcards began as a fad in the final years of the nineteenth century as travel happy Americans began scribbling their sentiments on thin, three-and-a-half-by-five-and-a-quarter-inch pieces of cardboard whose front sides were printed with a local view. In 1908 the United States Post Office Department delivered a staggering 667,777,798 postcards.” The little cards solved a lot of communications problems especially for those of few words or for those who didn’t like writing letters.”

It is not surprising that so many personally penned messages appeared on postcards over the years with the brief phrase “Wish you were here!” What memories do you have of Barnegat Lighthouse?

Barnegat Light bank checks issued by The First National Bank of Barnegat

A.) The First National Bank of Barnegat, New Jersey issued 10 different variations of bank checks depicting Barnegat Light over the span of years from 1917 to 1944.

B.) New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles “Shore To Please” License Plate

C.) Local Beach Haven merchant C. T. Whalon electrical and appliance contractors made a 1949 historic Barnegat Lighthouse Calendar.

D.) ESSO Standard Oil Company distributed this 1951 New Jersey Road Map with Pictorial Guide free of charge. As they said, “Happy Motoring”.

E.) Artist Bill Kane sketched and printed a set of postcards circa 1950 consisting of 10 different sketches highlighting Barnegat Lighthouse and promoting the theme “Visit Magic Long Beach Island – Six Miles at Sea. Vacation’s Playland on the Jersey Coast.”

F.) Large letter postcard and map postcards each display the Barnegat Lighthouse.

G.) Sponsored by the Ocean County Stamp Club and bearing two postmarks dated FEB. 15, 1950 from both Toms River and Barnegat Light, this postcard displays a colorful red and blue printed cachet commemorating the 1850-1950 Centennial of Ocean County.

H.) A special message overprinted in red ink announces the “100th Birthday of Historic Barnegat Light”. Referred to as “America’s Grand Old Champion of the Tides.”

I.) Souvenir Folders consisted of a fold-out grouping of a dozen or so postcard images all in one mailer. This one features 12 different views of Barnegat Lighthouse.

Such souvenir folders typically include information about the towns of Long Beach Island and promote LBI as “The Home of Happy, Healthy Sand, Sea and Sunshine” with 18 miles of sandy white beaches.

J.) Creased in the center and designed to be folded over when addressed, this postcard bears a green 1-cent Ben Franklin postage stamp and AUG. 9, 1907 postmark.

K.) Ten oversized, or jumbo, postcards measuring as much as 6-1/2 X 9 inches featuring Barnegat Lighthouse

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L.) 17 professional color photographs courtesy of Studio 9 Photo Center, Route 9, Waretown Plaza, Waretown, NJ 08758.

M.) Note the evolution of postcard production from older postcards with white-borders to the linens to the more modern era of photochromes in this chronological sequence of postcards from 1906-1966.

Search “Barnegat Light” on YouTube and one gets dozens of results. This is one of the professionally produced productions.

Here’s another from NBC 10.

Nicely done drone footage video.

Can you recommend a good Barnegat Light video? We welcome your comments and questions.

Old postcards trace early development of Stone Harbor, NJ


Jersey beaches are open! Well, at least virtually, here at rivertonhistory.com.

New Stone Harbor in the Making

The Rise of Stone Harbor, N. J.
Harlan Radford

In the late 1890s, three enterprising brothers from Philadelphia formed a business venture called the South Jersey Realty Company. Howard, David, and Reese Risley envisioned a thriving seashore resort community on an undeveloped tract of land popularly referred to as Seven Mile Island located in Cape May County.

New Stone Harbor, NJ – Watch it grow

The Risley Brothers set into motion a plan to transform this barrier island of sand dunes, wide expansive beaches, and salt marsh at the southernmost portion of the South Jersey peninsula into a popular vacation resort. Some folks referred to this new resort as being ‘Philadelphia’s Seashore Suburb.

A very important part of this early development plan included providing a means for connecting Stone Harbor with the mainland. Originally, a rail line was proposed but that soon gave way to a more feasible elevated roadway. Dubbed “The Ocean Parkway” initially and later called “The Stone Harbor Ocean Parkway,” this new boulevard extending from Cape May Court House now made it possible for people to come to the island. And come they did!

 “Building the Causeway to Seven Mile Island”

In 1911, a Gala Week of celebration scheduled for July 1 to 5 included an entire series of events of general public interest arranged as a means of promoting and featuring the many fine aspects and possibilities of the “new” Stone Harbor in the making.

Festivities kicked off on Saturday, July 1 with competitive sailboat races open to the public and a lush dinner-dance provided at the newly opened Yacht Club. Sunday, July 2, ushered in the first religious church services at the new Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches. Monday, July 3, witnessed the dedication of the Boulevard Bridges and Canal with appropriate ceremonies attended by public officials, dignitaries, and many spectators. Included in that august group of officials would be the Governor of New Jersey, the Honorable Woodrow Wilson. Other attractions included exciting automobile races on the beachfront, a beach party with a barbecue for county granges, a water carnival, a fireworks display, and a dedication ball at the Yacht Club. Tuesday, July 4, saw a sailing Regatta followed by athletic sports, including track and aquatic events and concluding with yet another ball at the Yacht Club for the visiting athletes and yachtsmen.

The conclusion of Gala Week celebrations occurred on Wednesday, July 5. The South Jersey Realty Company offered and sold First Mortgage Beach Front Improvement Bonds at the opening price of $65 (par, $100), which advanced to $70 at the close of business that day.

Purchasers under the famous Stone Harbor Bond Plan received free fully improved lots at Stone Harbor. Thus, not only was Stone Harbor then on the map, but interested persons could invest and buy into this community enterprise.

Gala Week in Stone Harbor, July 1-5, 1911

At about this time, postcards and especially picture postcards became in vogue as a popular means to communicate by mail with relatives, friends, and neighbors. Soon the post office delivered a marvelous travelogue of images depicting new and distant places to our mailboxes. Typical postcards featured an interesting photograph on the front and space for a brief hand-written note or printed message, mailing address, and a postage stamp on the other side. Postcards served as souvenirs or keepsakes and provided an easy means of sending personal greetings as well as conveying timely commercial advertisements.

The Risley brothers devised a novel means to promote the idea of announcing their real estate venture in Stone Harbor and they connected with the public in a clever and inexpensive way. Just one cent covered the cost of mailing a postcard back then. The Risleys utilized picture postcards as a means to promote Stone Harbor and attract buyers of homes and property. They captured the attention of interested parties by mailing picture postcards describing their direct role in the construction of homes and cottages in Stone Harbor. In addition, those picture postcards also clearly document the early development of Stone Harbor.

The Building Boom in Stone Harbor

The Risley brothers’ innovative postcard advertisements pictured below show the early stages of growth and development in Stone Harbor. South Jersey Realty Company/Beach Front Improvement Investment Bonds, issued in May 1909, raised money to fund the beginning construction of needed infrastructure including streets, sidewalks, sewers,  water supply, and electric power in Stone Harbor. Each beautifully steel-engraved certificate bore actual penned signatures of David Risley, Secretary, and H.S. Risley, President, and guaranteed the purchaser the return of $100, payable on December 1, 1927.

South Jersey Realty Company advertising postcards and bond

Boosted by the rise in popularity of picture postcards, Stone Harbor became incorporated just five years later in 1914. The Risley brothers’ brilliantly conceived real estate venture grew to become a unique South Jersey resort and adopted the slogan, “The Seashore at its Best.”

The advent of the automobile, the construction of major, multi-lane
highways and toll roads, along with the emphasis on enjoying the leisure benefits
of the Jersey Shore directly contributed to the Stone Harbor we have all
come to know today.

Looking through old photos brightens our day – even more now

Missing the daily pleasures of pre-quarantine life, pandemic-induced nostalgia and isolation have compelled many of us to find old photos and reflect on experiences with family and friends that transport us back months or years to normal times.

Rutgers-Camden researcher Andrew Abeyta says that one way that people can deal with these fears is “…to tap into the power of nostalgia – a sentimental or wistful longing for the past – which can have profound psychological benefits during periods of confusion or uncertainty. Nostalgia, he argues, can go a long way in helping to restore a sense of meaning in life.”

So forgive us for perhaps indulging in nostalgia even more than what may be typical for a historical society.

Camp Lenape waterfront, Aug1964

While looking through old scrapbooks, Harlan Radford recently re-discovered this black and white Polaroid photo taken in AUG. 1964, which shows the Burlington County Boy Scout Camp Lenape waterfront in Medford, New Jersey.  He writes:

The activity going on in this photo suggests that a couple of Boy Scouts were working on their Rowing Merit Badge and one of the requirements is to purposely swamp a rowboat (see far right of photo) and demonstrate what to do to save oneself if capsized.  

The aluminum rowboat shown here has built-in flotation compartments and will not sink; however, Scouts were taught to stay with the boat until help or rescue arrives.  Note the all-important “buddy board” with buddy tags shown in the lower-left corner of this image. Every swimmer entering the water was required to have a buddy and they were to look out for one another. Their name tags would be placed next to one another or paired together on the buddy board showing what Scouts were paired and whether they were swimming in the clearly marked non-swimmer, beginner, or swimmer areas.

Swimmers had to stay with your buddy and remain in the area that they were allowed to be in based on their swimming ability. Every ten to fifteen minutes a whistle would be blown and Scouts would have to quickly get with their buddy and raise their hands to be counted.  This way there was a periodic accounting procedure to do a headcount and make sure all swimmers are safe.  When all are accounted for, a whistle is blown again and swimmers resume their water activity.  

During regularly scheduled large group swimming sessions, trained Life Guards were stationed at various places along the dock or on the beach with long bamboo poles (see one such white pole being held by a Scout in this photo) to aid and assist a swimmer in need.  Rescues were to be carried out with safety for all including the rescuer or put another way – one only goes into the water to save someone as a very last resort.  Therefore it was important to extend the pole or toss a ring-buoy on a rope to the victim and then proceed to pull them to safety. Safety was always paramount when it came to all water-related activities such as boating, canoeing, and swimming.

The unearthing of this long-lost photo no doubt transported the former Boy Scout and Camp Aquatic Director back several decades. I can only imagine the wistful smile that this discovery brought to his face since we are miles distant.

What takes you back, Gentle Reader, and helps you to cope with the present distressing and uncertain situation? – JMc

Then & Now: 27th Street near River Avenue, Camden

Properties of WS Travis, 27th near River Ave., Camden, N J, postmark 1908


If you collect old postcards, then you know that a real photo postcard (RPPC) can be among the most costly to buy because it often is literally one-of-a-kind. This card was postmarked at Camden, N.J. on Nov. 16, 1908 and mailed to Meadville, PA. (Two successive clicks on the photo will enlarge to maximum)

As indicated by the “X”, this is the home and store of East Camden Grocer William S. Travis, wife Flora, and daughters Bertha and Helen.

Flora Travis, writing to her aunt, Mrs. Joel Smith, explains in the message that it is a “…picture of our house,” and that marks indicate Will and Helen. “I was in store and not on it.”

The newspapers of his day chronicled much of Grocer Travis’ colorful life and a search of ancestry.com fills in more blanks.

The well-known resident of East Camden owned the aforementioned grocery at 27th and River Road at a time when a team of horses and wagon delivered the provisions. He later worked in the road contracting business.

The Cramer Hill entrepreneur belonged to several fraternal and civic organizations, ran for Camden City Council, and owed a winning racehorse named Helen Hill.

Society columns kept regular tabs on his visits to shore resorts and other travels, a wagon accident caused by a runaway horse, family milestones, and his purchase of a new Overland automobile. The papers took note of birthdays, illnesses, a health scare on a ferryboat, and of course, his 1921 obit.

Street View, 27th Near River Ave. Camden, N J Sep 2019

What would Grocer Will think of his neighborhood today? Click on the Google Maps link at right and you can “drive” around the block.

We thank frequent contributor Harlan Radford for providing the scan that inspired this waaaaay too detailed article about one Camden postcard – even one written during a late-night pandemic isolation induced burst of energy.

Want to see more RPPCs? Scroll down to our search feature in the left column and search the term RPPC. Looking for vintage images of Camden? Search for Camden.

Still the best authority on all topics regarding Camden


Thanks also to teammate Roger Prichard for the ancestry.com lookup.

 – JMc

Asking for a friend…

We received several comments expressing approval of an article in our last newsletter (May 2020) that told about the work of Riverton artists, past and present.

Joan Biddle, a longtime friend of the Society, suggested that we assemble a resource bank of historically oriented crafts people, much like we did recently for fine artists.

I like it! We need to hear about your endorsements with some photos, contact info, and a description of the their specialty.

The project that stirred our interest in creating such a list was a note from Joan asking if we could recommend someone to fabricate a new split-reed seat for a newly refinished antique “acorn” ladderback chair. The patterns vary for such seats but she aims to have the new seat constructed with similar material and pattern to match another chair.

We are working on getting a photo, but the chair is similar to this one above, plagiarized from the internet.

OK, I’ll start.

Got a match, buddy?

Probably not the weirdest thing to collect, the hobby of collecting different match-related items such as matchboxes, matchbox labels, matchbooks, matchcovers, matchsafes, etc. is known as phillumeny. One who collects is a phillumenist.

Don’t you love this distance-learning?

Ok, eight is a pretty weak collection, but how many Palmyra/Riverton enterprises over the years potentially would have even used matchbooks to advertise their trade?

Please scan or take a photo of yours so we can add them to this display.

My favorite one is still the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge matchbook. I mean, just look at that artwork!

I even made a mug out of it.

Jersey Journal, July 12, 1960, p4

But this recently acquired one for the Carvel Sparks Dodge Plymouth dealership at Broad and Main piqued my curiosity. Wait – where at Broad and Main? And what a cool name.

The old 2L-5N, or “two-letter and 5 number” system in which phone numbers were assigned to residents based on location (in this case “RI” for Riverton) was retired in the c1960.  Riverton was the first town in the area to make the transition.

So I decided to start looking through our old hometown newspapers as well as in online newspaper archives for some evidence of  Carvel Sparks.

The Ridgewood Herald, Sept 1, 1938

So, it turns out that Carvel Sparks is not a nickname. The unique appellation simplified searching and resulted in very few irrelevant hits.

A 1938 Ridgewood (NJ) Herald news clipping describes the farewell luncheon her women’s club gave Mrs. Carvel Sparks when she and her mister relocated to Riverton.

The Penn State grad, artist, DAR member, landscape architect, lecturer on gardening, and published author was very socially and politically active well before she took on leadership roles at Riverton’s Porch Club.

Indeed, newspapers yielded dozens more search results for Mrs. Carvel Sparks’ activities before, during, and after her residence in Riverton spanning the mid-1920s through the mid-1970s than they did for all of Mr. Carvel Sparks’ business affairs.

Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov 13,1938

In 1940, the Carvel Sparks household, comprised of Carvel Sparks (aged 40), his wife Ethel, two daughters, and mother-in-law resided at 900 Main Street. Carvel Sparks’ occupation at that moment was president of an auto sales agency.

Previously, in 1938-1940, he had distributed Willys and Graham cars at another Carvel Sparks dealership on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia.

New Era, Nov 1, 1923, p1

Carvel Sparks directed his auto dealership out of a commercial building at 523 Main Street that was originally built in 1923 for the Clinton B. Woolston Star and Durant automobile business.

1925 Sanborn Insurance Map detail, Sheet 2

This detail of a 1925 Riverton Sanborn Insurance Map confirms that the capacity of the building was 35 cars.

A number of Courier-Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, and The New Era newspaper advertisements from about 1944 through 1958, document the presence of Carvel Sparks’ auto dealership at that same location.

Courier-Post, Mar 26, 1946, p5

While in Riverton, Carvel Sparks assumed leadership roles in at least three organizations.

Courier-Post, Nov 21, 1950, p7

In 1946, he was a member of Riverton Country Club‘s Board of Trustees.

In 1950, Sparks served as treasurer for the newly formed Riverton Business Association, and later the Tri-Borough Chamber of Commerce elected him president in 1957.

The lifelong golfer’s name often figured prominently in local sports pages.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Carvel Sparks’ 1972 obituary tells us that he retired from his Riverton Dodge-Plymouth dealership in 1958 and had resided in Blakeslee, PA for the previous eleven years.

People come and go in Riverton for many reasons, The achievements of this couple obviously created an influence on this community for a number of years.

It was a matchbook that plunged me down this latest “rabbit hole.” What will induce you to delve in Riverton history during this coronavirus shutdown?

Can you name another car dealership in Riverton?

(Please know that clicking on an image will show a larger one and that underlined terms in the article above link to more content.)