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.

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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…

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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

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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.

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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.

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You can write a stanza with the abcb rhyme scheme on the TTATA theme


I unashamedly stole this idea from the original TV program “Things That Aren’t There Anymore,” produced in 1993 by Philadelphia PBS station WHYY channel 12. As Bill Campbell stated in the introduction, “All of these places, and many more, defined the pleasures of life in the Delaware Valley… and they are all things that aren’t there anymore.”

While the WHYY program looked at Horn & Hardarts, Willow Grove Amusement Park, grand movie theaters, and the bygone Market Street department stores, we have our own version of Things That Aren’t There Anymore, or TTATA, that are no less significant or memorable to the scores of present and former residents who experienced them firsthand.

A generation born in the late 1800s must have been amazed by the progress seen in Riverton through the 20th century. In 1974, Therese Spackman Barclay Willits wrote a poem to her lifelong friend Marjorie Marcy Crowell on the occasion of her 80th birthday. The nostalgia she must have felt in composing a poem about “The Riverton of yore” is unmistakable.

That nostalgic tug is no less strong in the minds of Rivertonians alive today.

The difficulty in illustrating some of them is the lack of photos and written information. I have had some luck in the past with soliciting things from our readership.

Having heard stories of the Nelly Bly express train that once barreled through town at 60mph on the rails now traveled by the NJ Transit’s light rail line, I asked in a May 2009 newsletter for some help. Any image of the Nellie Bly train remained elusive until Pam and Don Deitz found a negative depicting the locomotive that Pam’s father, Benjamin Percival, had taken c1939. Find more about that discovery here.

Nellie Bly Atlantic City-NYC Express, c1939

Klipple’s Fine Pastries, undated photo courtesy of Jill and Hank Croft

Another hard-to-find photo for a fondly remembered business surfaced in 2016 when Jill and Hank Croft let us scan several photos of Klipple’s Fine Pastries.

Bob Foster’s Facebook post on Klipple’s Bakery

Bob Foster’s 2018 Facebook post served as icing on the cake when it showed a color photo of Klipple’s that elicited a flood of nostalgic memories.

The landmarks and businesses mentioned in Therese Spackman Barclay Willits’ “Rhyme of Old Riverton,” such as Dreer’s Nursery, the Lyceum, and the steamer Columbia, are those of an earlier generation. Today, a newer generation reminisces about the things that they experienced back in their day.

So I’ll ask the Universe again and try to crowdsource information and photos of three businesses in particular that readers continue to bring up in their comments – the Sharon Sweet Shop, The Victorian Thymes, and Mary Lou’s.

Kodachrome slide, Evans Bldg. fire, donated by Colin Cattell

I am convinced that some of the best examples of Riverton’s history lay tucked away in attics, junk drawers, garages, and basements forgotten in old family albums and shoeboxes of Kodachrome slides.

What scenes of your youth might motivate some lines in a ballad like the ones Therese Spackman Barclay Willits composed for her dear friend?

Let’s collaborate. In a poem with the rhyme scheme abcb, the second line rhymes with the fourth line, but the first and third lines don’t rhyme with each other. One stanza – four lines – you can do that! Send yours in a comment below, in a Facebook comment, or in an email. I’ll stitch them together. -JMc

ADDED 3/21/2023: My challenge to readers 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.”

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?”

With live-bird shoots outlawed, Riverton Gun Club members turned to trapshooting clay targets

Sport from the Pigeon’s Point of View, Punch, Jan 21, 1882

Sometimes, when researching Riverton’s history, we encounter a dark chapter.

The troubling part of the story below is not about the now illegal live-bird shooting competitions once held by Riverton Gun Club. It is rather about the tragic outcomes for two participating sharpshooters and the racist viewpoints of another.

Here is how another regular foray down the research rabbit hole led to some unsettling findings.

Riverton Gun Club Grounds, 1883, Riverton Gun Club History 1877-1906, detail p4

Riverton Gun Club, The New Era, March 7, 1919, p2

While working on the recent article about the acclaimed or infamous, depending on your viewpoint, Riverton Gun Club, I found a news clipping with a date that was a good deal after a 1906 court case that outlawed live bird shooting caused the club to disband in 1907 and sent it to Borough Historian, Roger Prichard with a question.

Rog – Have you come across accounts of shooting competitions at the Yacht Club? They are billed as Riverton Gun Club contests, but the original one was disbanded in 1906/1907. Might be something to write about. -John

Roger’s reply sent me off on another tangent to search for more evidence of Riverton Gun Club 2.0. His detailed reply follows below.

trapshooting opens at RYC, The New Era, Dec. 10, 1920, p2

John – Yes, this was the reason they moved the clubhouse back from the river (from the outer island to the middle island) in the Fall of 1920, so the shooting from the clubhouse would be more challenging. You’re right, I’m sure, that there was no formal connection with the old gun club except that the members were from some of the same families.

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Blue Rock 1890 ad, IMAGE: Rick Cicciarelli

The targets for these shoots were not live pigeons, as the Riverton Gun Club killed by the hundreds, but clay targets launched mechanically from the pier over the river.

new gun club, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 07 Feb 1906, p10

This 1906 news snippet is the first clue that enthusiasm for target shooting remained after the demise of the Riverton Gun Club.

By 1908, news reports told of the exploits of a group using the name Riverton Gun Club holding trap shooting matches. One contest was away in Haddonfield, but the report for the other against a Philadelphia team did not explain where the match took place in Riverton.

Another competition against a Merchantville club in March 1909 also occurred at an unknown location in Riverton. Names on the scoresheets included Fitler, Biddle, Thomas, and Stewart, also family names from the original club.

David H. Wright, who abhorred live bird shoots and fought for laws to stop them, had already bought the 23-acre gun club grounds and handsome clubhouse for $6,000 in May 1907, so it is unlikely that any gunning took place on his property.

By November 1911, Wright placed ads asking to sell the gun club grounds for $20,000.

West Jersey Trap Shoot League, The Courier-Post, 04 Aug 1913, p11

The Riverton Gun Club, North Cramer Hill Gun Club, and the West Collingswood Gun Club allied to form the West Jersey Trap Shooting League in August 1913. They held the first league shoot in Riverton on October 18, but where is unclear.

Interestingly, the publicity for the next month’s contest in Camden reminded readers that the West Jersey Trap Shooting League had united three sporting clubs, but for the first time, it listed the Riverton contingent as Riverton Yacht Club, not Riverton Gun Club.

In January 1914, the newspaper returned to referencing the Riverton Gun Club as it explained that the West Jersey Trap Shooting League planned three shoots, one in January at Riverton, one in February at Camden, and another in March at West Collingswood.

The Riverton Gun Club roster for a November 1914 match included Biddle, Mills, Purnell, Keating, Vaughn, Seckel, Reed, Frishmuth, Kimbel, Hendrickson, Chambers, Jones, Thomason, Alexander, and Hill.

And in April 1915, we’re back to calling the shooters The Riverton Yacht Club. The smaller roster includes Vaughn, Evans, Keating, Allen, Stackhouse, Mills, Reese, Frishmuth, Reinhard, Chambers, Toner, and Hills.

The December 1915 reporting inexplicably returns to naming the marksmen of the Riverton Yacht Club. Some Riverton players continued, new ones joined, and others returned after an absence, but it is the same core group of men.

In practical terms, the two club names had become synonymous.

Accounts of trapshooting competitions involving the Riverton Yacht Club, the Riverton Gun Club, or simply just Riverton persisted for several years.

Starting with accounts from February 7, 1919, we no longer see any mention of the West Jersey Trap Shooting League. And except for the April 22, 1921 Palmyra/Riverton shoot, the remaining publicity from Jan 1919-May 6, 1921 appears only to list Riverton sportsmen.

Several reports make it clear that the events took place on the pier or wharf of Riverton Yacht Club.

If only we had a photo of one of those contests!

The confusion over the locations of some of the trapshooting matches remains. The matches appear to have died out less than a year after all the fuss to move the clubhouse back on the pier.

Frederick S. Groves photo from Baltimore Sun Obit

Regular readers of this column may recognize the name F. S. Groves because of our unsuccessful efforts these past months to save the Groves Mansion from demolition.

Names, such as Frishmuth, Biddle, and Fitler, have often been central to other Riverton historical sagas.

Having more familiarity with those names than I do, Roger shared some sad information about two of these players and a disturbing story about another.

That clip (referring to the March 7, 1919 New Era clipping that set us off) also has names with a ton of awful connections.

detail, Klan Rebels, Courier-Post, March 18, 1926, p1, 25

“Dr. Mills” was the Charles Street Mills who lived in the Furness house at 106 Lippincott for decades and was the chairman or something of the Palmyra chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. Nancy Hall said her father detested him. She said he had a sign on his desk that read “Great Doctor. Helluva man.”

Dr. Mills’ involvement in Klan activities came to light in 1926-1927 during an internal dispute over the mismanagement of funds within the organization.

Lest you think that the Klan was not a thing here…

Despite having great wealth and status, these two tragic figures took their own lives.

The Morning Post 20 Jan 1931, p1, 4

Frishmuth suicide, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 01 Sep 1923, p2

Frederick Stanley Groves Jr., the son of Frederick S. Groves Sr., grew up in the Groves Mansion and, around this time, built himself and his wife (the daughter of Arthur Dorrance) the phenomenal house and grounds where the Cinnaminson High School is now.

Terrible that it mentions his “new $500 trap gun” since he later shot himself to death (1931). He was a big game hunter.

Even worse was “Biddle” Frishmuth (I’m sure Robert Biddle Frishmuth 1889-1923). He was also a suicide, just 4 years later (than the March 7, 1919 article at the beginning)

Robert Frishmuth Biddle, HSR archival photo

The clipping I found… said – incredibly considering your New Era clipping – that “The shotgun that Mr. Frishmuth used to end his life was the “pet gun” with which he had won many trophies at trapshooting.” 


It’s not all good news at -JMc

Please support our work with your membership


Historical Society of Riverton
P.O Pox 112
Riverton, NJ 08077

January 30, 2023

Dear Reader,

It’s membership renewal time for The Historical Society of Riverton! Still just $25, affordable for everyone (but additional gifts are encouraged if you can!)

And it is time that we all band together now to get solid protections for our architectural heritage. Just a few days ago, Superior Court struck down Riverton’s demolition ordinance, leaving us completely defenseless and allowing the destruction of the 1901 Groves Mansion on Lippincott Avenue to proceed. Riverton needs unified, passionate advocacy to get reasonable, powerful tools like other respected historic towns use to prevent teardowns. HSR is leading this charge, and we need you.

You’ve supported us so much already! As of today, we have raised $5,575 toward our $10,000 goal to fund more interpretative signs throughout town and programming to support our mission. In 2019, you helped us raise nearly $5,000 to support an annual award for excellence in history writing. In 2022, the HSR awarded our very first History Writing Prize to Ben Small of Palmyra High School. We’ll announce this year’s essay question on April 1. The winner receives $500, and their essay appears on our website.

This online resource, launched over twelve years ago, is a trove of content for anyone wanting to know more about historic Riverton. Fresh issues of Gaslight News are posted four times annually at Our website represents hundreds of volunteer hours and is our primary outreach tool.

This year, hundreds of professional volunteer hours have been spent with our archive of documents, photos, and artifacts. Our archives helped create the book Riverton (Images of America), published by Arcadia Press. Sales of the book support the Society, and to date, over $600 has been raised through sales. And the publication of this book has sparked more photo donations! Thank you for helping us celebrate Riverton’s incredible history and protect it for future generations. We greatly appreciate your support as we move ahead with our work this year.

Please go to our Contact and Membership page for a membership form and instructions on how to pay by mail or with PayPal.

Thank you!

Heather Huffnagle

Membership and Ways and Means Chair

Historical Society of Riverton

A descendant inquires about a Riverton Gun Club prize won in 1900

Paul Stryker, writing from NC, must have Googled “Riverton Gun Club” and landed on our page.

He asked about the value of a prize won by an ancestor at a shooting match in 1900.

We do love a history mystery.

Pressed for more information, Paul sent these three photos of an exquisite cut-glass crystal bowl with a tarnished silver rim, marked “Hamilton and Diesinger” and “sterling.”

The Gimbel Store, Philadelphia, PA

1208 Chestnut, Hamilton and Diesinger Bldg,

An internet search turned up Hamilton & Diesinger at 1208 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, manufacturers and retailers of sterling and silver-plated wares that dissolved in 1899 after eighteen years in business. Gimbel Bros. Department Store sold off what stock remained of the original company.

Piecing together bits from online newspaper archives and our own resources, it appears that Harry T. Ducker of Baltimore County, MD was an amateur marksman who inherited wealth from his father, George E. Ducker of Reisterstown, MD.

Ducker Best, Baltimore Shooting Assn., Baltimore Sun, Jun 01, 1906, p12

Ducker wins, Baltimore County Union, Feb 16, 1884, p3

Harry traveled so much that he usually stayed in hotels and did not have a permanent residence. Newspaper accounts of his many shooting matches span over 20 years from c1884-1906.

Harry Ducker, Riverton Gun Club History, between p28-29

Harry T. Ducker was a Governor of the Baltimore Shooting Assn., a member of Maryland’s State Game and Fish Protective Assn., a Pythian Knight who participated in tournaments, and a member of Riverton Gun Club, where he participated in several matches besides winning the bowl. His portrait is in the Riverton Gun Club History book.

Ducker wins punchbowl, The Sporting Life, May 26, 1900, p14

A check of the Riverton Gun Club History book and The Sporting Life newspaper confirms that Harry T. Ducker did indeed win a “…cut-glass silver braced punchbowl with a dozen glasses.”

Obituary for Harry Thomas Ducker, The Record, 26 Apr 1939, p2

The newspaper trail for Harry T. Ducker dims after his shooting competition days. He spent his last days in Englewood, NJ.

The obit for the retired linen importer made no mention of his exhilarating days as a competitive marksman.

Freeman Auctions glass fruit bowl 2011

Author and “social forecaster” John Naisbitt famously declared, “Value is what people are willing to pay for it.” So what will someone pay for this antique crystal punchbowl?

A 2011 auction listing for a much smaller Hamilton & Diesinger crystal fruit bowl is the only comparable item I found.

Please comment below or email us at if you have an opinion or interest in Paul Stryker’s punchbowl. -JMc





We have covered the Riverton Gun Club before on these pages.

Riverton Gun Club History 1877-1906

A reader’s inquiry spurs a story on Thomas Dando

East Riverton – Then & Now

…and in the pages of our newsletter, the Gaslight News.

Click to access 121-Gaslight-News-Mar-2006-p1-6.pdf

…and in a slideshow, “Do You Remember?” that has a section about the Gun Club.