Jos. F. Yearly’s photos recall the J.T. Evans Coal & Lumber business

001_1979-07-27 JT Evans Fire BCT - Paul W. Schopp Collection

The huge fire that taxed the firefighting resources of as many as six communities and destroyed the former J.T. Evans Coal and Lumber Building in 1979 closed the final chapter on a structure which had been a Main Street landmark since the late 19th century.

The J.T. Evans coal and lumber business had its origin sometime during the late 1800s as one of four locations of the I. W. Heulings’ Sons Lumber and Coal Dealers, later becoming A. C. Heulings & Bros. Lumber and Coal, changing ownership around 1900 to Riverton carpenter and builder Samuel Rudderow, who finally sold it to Mr. Evans in 1905. In its last days the property may be best remembered as the original site of The New Leaf plant shop run by Will Ann and Ray Szulczewski.

003_1895 Sanborn map detail - AC Heulings
004_1919 Sanborn Map JT Evans

These details from Sanborn Insurance maps show just how much Main Street real estate the J.T. Evans complex encompassed. (Note the railroad track on concrete piers that appears in the 1919 map which figures in photo #041.)

The Printing Shop indicated on the 1919 map at 607 Main Street was once the location of The New Era newspaper, now Freddy’s Shoe Repair. I thank Mr. Fred DeVece every time I refer to my treasured copy of the 1909 New Era Christmas issue which he gave me several years ago when I was teaching history at RPS.

005_1909 About Our Advertisers - JT Evans, Christmas New Era - courtesy Mr. DeVece

Case in point: Image #005  is a clipping from the “About Our Advertisers” page of the 1909 Christmas New Era gives a short history of the J.T. Evans enterprise, which at that point, was just four years old. “Thank you again, Freddy.” (Read more details about the 1909 New Era Christmas issue in Part One and Part Two.)

This early undated postcard from the Paul W. Schopp Collection shows the frame construction of the original building that lay underneath the red brick veneer that Joseph Evans added in 1937.

007_original frame Evans Bldg. - Paul W. Schopp Collection
An email from Mrs. Mary Yearly Flanagan with an invitation to view her grandfather’s photo album inspired this post about the Evans Building. Given the scarcity of picture postcards of that structure, the following scans made from the personal photographs of Joseph F. Yearly may be the best record we have of that establishment. Like the long gone Lyceum, the Lawn House, and the grandstand of the Riverton Athletic Association’s bicycle track, it is another part of life from Riverton’s yesteryears.

032_1947 Feb - J.F. Yearly photo

HSR member Mrs. Mary Yearly Flanagan, granddaughter of Joseph F. Yearly, has very generously provided these images for the enjoyment of our readers. She writes, “At least now, some of his photos are being shared – and that makes me feel good.  I passionately believe that old photos of historic significance should be shared & not just sit in someone’s attic – or worse.”

Future posts from the Joseph F. Yearly photo album will include more unique views of Dreer’s, Irish Row, and the riverbank — views which the tourists’ picture postcards missed.

My understanding about a person or a thing from Riverton’s past frequently emerges slowly as I gather bits and snippets of facts and information, often with the help of whomever else I can manage to enlist in my investigation. Joseph F. Yearly’s photographs, Mr. DeVece’s New Era issues, items from the Paul W. Schopp Collection, recollections of Mary Flanagan and her cousin, Joseph B. Yearly, and my own research have contributed to this article. As this examination is far from complete, you are invited to elaborate upon this essay.

Readers, please leave a comment with a memory, a question, or even a correction about this post.  If you have a related item such as a bill, product package, sign, advertisement, photo, or a scan of an item, that you wish to add to this growing archive, please contact us. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

P.S. 2/14/2012 Many thanks to reader Jerry Mooney for finding the caption error on photo #041 runaway railroad car. It is indeed a photo of the Collins Bldg., also no longer. If any reader can send more details on the Collins Building or that incident, please contact us. – JMc

1909 Christmas Number New Era—Part 2

Dear Reader,
This second installment of the 1909 Christmas issue of the New Era includes pages 25-44 plus the inside and outside of the back cover of this remarkable nostalgic tour of the various political and social organizations and business establishments of Riverton, Palmyra, and Cinnaminson.

While Part 1 included information mainly about Riverton and a number of advertisers, this second part is mainly about Palmyra, and Cinnaminson, and more advertisers. Some facts may be old news to followers of Palmyra history, but others just seem the stuff of winning bar bets. That is, if you know the answers.

Railroad Station at Palmyra, N.J., once known as Texas
In its early days, Palmyra was known as Texas. Yeah, I know. Living in a place called Texas, New Jersey must have been confusing. In any case, the name was changed to Palmyra by a man named Isaiah Toy who “…did not like the name Texas for a town that had aspired to the dignity of a postoffice, and changed it to Palmyra, a name suggested by his sister, Caroline.”

The pages paint a portrait of the community’s economic vitality as they boast of Palmyra and Riverton’s first schoolhouse and expanding school enrollment, the building of the Camden & Amboy Railroad (the 19th century forerunner of the RiverLine light rail passenger service which follows the same route), and the practice of five neighborhood farmers to ship their produce by boats which each carried 100 baskets of corn. Once part of Cinnaminson like its upriver cousin, Riverton, Palmyra became a separate township in 1894.

The publication traces the origins and 1909 status for a number of social and fraternal clubs and organizations. Among the more curious are the hundred member Palmyra Bicycle Club, the Loyal Temperance Union (a group which spearheaded the crusade for prohibition), the storied Palmyra Field Club, the Independence Fire Company No.1, and several patriotic groups.

Another amazing Palmyra fact involves one of its churches which actually was built in Riverton in 1859 and was moved to Palmyra to “…open for divine service on the new site Friday, May 8, 1885.”

“About Our Advertisers” on page 35-38 is a who’s who of the area’s 45 principal commercial establishments. Brief descriptions of each of the businesses appear for grocers, butchers, painters, plumbers, druggists, tailors, bakers, and other merchants and tradesmen of all sorts.  Advertisements take up the remainder of the publication, some at a full page like the one for Dreer’s Nursery, and others at a half, or smaller fraction, as in the ad for John B. Murphy, Horseshoer at Broad and Cinnaminson.

Altogether, it is a pretty cool history local history lesson in twenty pages from a primary source that you won’t find on your typical public library shelf. Click on the link to download and view the pages. Be advised that it is a large 5.23MB PDF file.

The original copy is about 9¼″x12¼″ but these scans have been cropped to 8½″x11.″ We thank Mr. Fred DeVece for providing the original issue from which I scanned these pages. – John McCormick, Gaslight News Editor
Click here to view a PDF file of the Part 2 of the 1909 New Era Christmas Issue. Be advised, it is a 5.23MB file.  – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

1909 New Era Captured a Moment in Our History

cover of 1909 New Era Christmas Issue

Dear Reader,
Since 2011 is still young, you may find this much sought after collectible to be a realization of how far we’ve come, or perhaps it’s a nostalgic reminder of days gone by. The 1909 Christmas issue of The New Era included descriptions of virtually every social, civic, economic, religious, and educational institution in Riverton, Cinnaminson, and Palmyra.

From A through almost-Z, including the Ancient Order of Hibernians, through each of the area’s nine churches, the DAR, the Loyal Temperance Union, to the Union League and the YMCA, along with a four-page “About Our Advertisers” section, the engrossing periodical serves as a glimpse into life in Riverton during the very early 20th century.

Remember, reminisce, or just imagine a time when Riverton was the destination for tours of Dreer’s Nurseries greenhouses and hundred-acre trial grounds and Riverton’s census included names of wealthy families listed in the Philadelphia and New York social registers as well as the first generation immigrant hired help who served in their elaborate homes.

This first installment includes the charming cover with its portrait of Santa sorting letters through page 24 of the 44 page publication. Of particular note is the selection entitled. “Early Days in Riverton”  on pages 9-24. “Palmyra: Then and Now” and “About Our Advertisers” will be covered in Part 2 of this scan of the entire 1909 Christmas Issue of The New Era.

The original copy is about 9¼″x12¼″ but these scans have been cropped to 8½″x11.″  We thank Mr. Fred DeVece for providing the original issue from which I scanned these pages.   – John McCormick, Gaslight News Editor
Click here to view a PDF file of the Part 1 of the 1909 New Era Christmas Issue. Be advised, it is a 5.31MB file.