How many times have you heard that word used to characterize Riverton?
Below, HSR Board Member Roger Prichard updates us on the Society’s Historical Marker Project – our effort to commemorate Riverton’s treasured past. – John McCormick, Editor
Our historical marker program has its next two markers in the ground, at Riverton Free Library and Riverton Public School.
Our volunteer Sub-Committee on Excavations (i.e. Pres. Bill Brown, John Laverty and Roger Prichard) planted them both on a recent Sunday morning. Stop by and have a read!
The marker for the Library tells the story of the tiny cottage first occupied by a nationally known motivational preacher. It was then for many decades the home of a lifelong bachelor who was a beloved figure in Riverton. It was transformed into the home of the new Riverton Free Library and Reading Room Association, which has been a treasure for the town for about 110 years since then.
Riverton Public School is actually the fourth public school attended by students of the area – the first being long before there even WAS a Riverton. The marker tells of how its expansion paced the evolution of the whole concept of public education in America and includes a “then-and-now” graphic with groups of children from about 1915 and 2018.
The July 3rd, 1865 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer announced “The Democratic citizens of the beautiful and flourishing town of Riverton… intend celebrating the Fourth of July in grand style.”
As the Great Day approaches, some may wonder how some of our July Fourth traditions started. Here is a sequel to the origin story of the mayor’s parade staff.
The subject of the parade baton that the mayor wields as the July Fourth Parade traverses Main Street has been touched on in these pages before.
We reprinted here the findings of former Town Historian Betty Hahle and learned there were not one, but two staffs.
And it seems she reached a different conclusion from what been reached earlier in the 1965 Riverton Yacht Club Centennial Booklet – that the staffs had come from India. Admitting that history is not static, and the discovery of new materials can change the our interpretation of events, she reasoned that they instead originated from Switzerland.
Whatever the ancestry of those first two staffs, we can be certain of the provenance of the most recent addition to the Borough’s collection of parade batons.
This past November, I was talking about the parade baton with Mayor William C. Brown and he mentioned in passing that he had to fashion a new staff himself for the 2014 July 4th promenade.
That is the very definition of Riverton history so I pressed the former marine for details of the news that was already several months old.
Mayor Brown explains:
The Mayor of Riverton’s tradition of carrying a staff during the Annual Fourth of July Parade, was started by Mayor E.C. Stroughton in 1897.
So that every year since then, a metal plate was added with the current mayor’s name, the year, and the number of children that marched in the parade.
There are three staffs in the Borough office, and legend has it that they came from trees located in Riverton. I’ve not found anything written about the first two, however I can state that the current staff did come from a Riverton tree.
I searched the wooded area along the park till I found a tree floating in the Pompeston Creek. I cut it loose, trimmed it out, and took it home, where I stripped, sanded, stained and applied two coats of varnish to preserve it.
One has to admire Mayor Brown’s unpretentious and no-nonsense account of how he humbly came to add another page to Riverton lore. And to think that we would have missed it if I had not brought it up.
This column from a June 28, 1934 New Era outlines the history of the Flag Parade Staff and lists the number of children participation from 1897 through 1933.
The loss of those old hometown newspapers left such a gap in our historical record. If you have not yet explored them, browse though some pages. You might find someone mentioned you know.
If you have any issues we do not have, please donate them or allow us to scan the pages.
While Riverton history of old is worth preserving, so too, it is worth recording events of today. The approach of our Glorious Fourth is sure to cause much reminiscing and retelling of family tales.
Leave one below in the comments box, or let us know what draws so many to return to this “unique” place each July Fourth.