Report from the Front (of the History Faire at the BurlCo Fair)

Edwin L. Kaewell shows his unit's colors

A recent USA Today article claimed that as many as 50,000 persons in the US take part, at least occasionally, in the hobby of Civil War reenactment. One of the most impassioned and enthusiastic students of local history that I met at the History Faire at the County Fair in Columbus, NJ last week was the solitary Civil War reenactor who bivouacked at the entrance to our tent each of those four sticky searing days.

Edwin L. Kaewell hopes to capitalize on the resurgence in interest for reenactment for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War by forming a squad for the 23rd Regiment NJ Volunteers—a regiment in which at least two Riverton residents served during the Civil War.

Gerald photographed all 3 sides; then I joined the views.

Since HSR President Gerald Weaber and I had just spent the previous two weeks readying our Society’s History Faire display on Riverton’s response to the Civil War, I was drawn to Mr. Kaewell’s earnest recruiting appeals to passers-by and was already imagining that his success could eventually benefit a part of our own mission as well—to create an awareness of our borough’s Civil War  heritage.(See a 2 min., 45 sec./28.7 MB video clip here.)

Many reenactors assume a “persona,” of a historical character which they create, complete with backstory, while others represent real people. Using first-person interaction, Civil War reenactors often recreate the daily activities, thoughts, and behavior of these characters and speak as if they were living in the 1860s.

Historical interpreters staging a living history encampment stay in character as Civil War soldiers, giving visitors the feeling that they are learning first-hand about life in the 1860s. All participants–presenters and spectators–engaging in such an authentic living history experience will probably understand the legacy of freedom and unity that the Civil War bestowed upon our Nation as well as the soldier’s experience and sacrifice in a way that no book can convey.

Imagine a future July Fourth in which a squad of Civil War reenactors dressed in their Prussian blue woolen coats, sky-blue trousers, and heads topped with kepis marches in the parade or stages an encampment as part of those festivities.

Even better—imagine if we in the HSR could give enough research and support to the unit that would encourage some members to role-play the part of a historical Rivertonian and incorporate actual events into their person’s backstory.

History Faire tents housed Civil War displays made by historical societies

To mark the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, each of the participating historical societies at the Burlington County Farm Fair displayed information and artifacts relevant to their respective community’s response to the conflict. A check of past newsletters shows that the topic has received little attention, except as it related to other subjects, so we have some catching up to do.

With so many Civil War history and genealogy enthusiasts, quite possibly, some readers of this column may have a head start on us, so we sincerely invite anyone with more facts or suggestions for sources of information to please contact us.

What we are initially looking for are additional names of Civil War veterans who have spent some part of their life in Riverton, either before entering service or afterward. A preliminary examination of records yielded at least 16 veterans’ names associated with at least eight different regiments in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. See that veterans list here. We appeal to our readers to dust off those family albums and shake those family trees to see if we missed anyone.

Ultimately, a comprehensive treatment of Riverton’s response to the Civil War needs to include much more—the actions of women on the home front while men were at war; the support of some normally pacifist-believing Quakers who fought to defend their abolitionist views; the effects of conscientious objectors; the influence and support of clubs, fraternities, churches, and various institutions; and the contributions of the business community to the war effort, and more will all be investigated.

The following brief abstract of the 23rd NJ Volunteer Infantry Regiment is part of the research on Riverton and the Civil War which we exhibited, and we post it here as a down payment on what is certain to be a larger body of research over the course of this four-year observance of the Civil War’s Sesquicentennial. The chronicle of this unique regiment may stir someone to enlist in Edwin Kaewell’s reenactment unit or perhaps support his effort materially.

A short biographical sketch of the two known Rivertonian members of the Jersey Yahoos completes this segment. Here is the bio for Private Job K. Bell  and here is the bio for Private Albert VanSciver.

For more information on the four-year-long commemoration of the Civil War, and a foot-in-the-door for starting your own research, here are three suggestions:

We thank County Historian Joe Laufer for a great experience at the first History Faire at the County Fair in Columbus, NJ, and we look forward to doubling our display area for the second. It afforded an unmatched opportunity to interact and network with members of other historical societies as well as a chance to try those amazing pulled-pork sandwiches at the nearby Amish food vendor stand. There will be more to report about our Farm Fair encounters in another post. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

P.S. Here’s another old Moorestown image, courtesy of one of our patrons of postcard collecting. He writes:

“An early view of 101 E. Main Street at Chester Ave. in Moorestown.   Afterward, this store would become Doughten’s and then later Matlack’s store.  This is an early view and is a card that I had never seen before in all the years I have been collecting postcards.  Please add this to the Riverton website.”

A Favorite Corner in Moorestown







P.P.S . Regarding the comment made about the above Garrigues’s Cash Grocer post card by resident fact-checker Paul Schopp. my postcard collector friend who contributed the above scan writes,”Thanks, and Paul is quite right…. Thanks for keeping me accurate.”

I must echo my friend’s remark. Pullleeeze do not hesitate to tell us when we get something wrong.  When I was in the classroom and one of my students pointed out a mistake I had made, I encouraged them to keep score as a devious way of getting them to pay closer attention.  So start counting. I’m just glad that Gerald and I aren’t the only ones reading this column.  – John McCormick

The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything. ~Edward Phelps

July 4th Parade Prequel

Main Street homeowners decorate, clean up, and spruce up for July Fourth
By July 2, 2011, many homeowners were busy giving the finishing touches to the exterior of their homes and even doing some last-minute landscaping in preparation for the throngs of spectators who would be making their yearly pilgrimage from near and far to Riverton’s Main Street for its celebrated annual July Fourth parade.

It seems that everyone has their own July Fourth family rituals and cherished memories of the “good ol’ days” whether they be 8 years ago or 80. Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer, Jan Hefler, profiled the swirl of activity surrounding one porch party and wrote a story which could probably be repeated in kind, if not in degree, on quite a few other porches. Here is the link for Jan Hefler’s story.

Jeannie O’Sullivan, writing for the Burlington County Times, whom I have cited here before, reminds us that memories and rituals regarding Riverton’s July Fourth celebrations are no less vivid for out-of-towners (like myself) whose vantage point for watching the parade has varied from curbside to other people’s porches. Here is the link for Jeannie O’Sullivan’s story.

My first memories of Riverton are the times when my grandparents brought my brother, mother, and me to witness the parade and the fireworks that followed at the riverbank. That fifty year old memory is dwarfed by the recollections of many others who can mark so many personal milestones by the number of parades that they have seen pass by their view.

Reviving an HSR tradition which apparently had not been done since 2004, Gerald Weaber and I handed out several hundred July Fourth Palm Cards during the parade and during the raft races. I confess that I largely plagiarized bits from previous series of palm cards and hastily printed them up the night before. Readers, in your spare time, please check your old July 4th palm cards against these dates: 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, and send me a scan of any more dates that you have. I would very much like to document what has already been done other years.

Maribeth Paige Shaffer was one of the people to whom I distributed the new cards.  She kindly responded to my request to send photos of the raft race to post. Thank you, Ms. Shaffer for the brilliant photographs .



There will be more posts and photos forthcoming on the subject of Riverton’s July Fourths, past and present. In the meantime, if you care to tell a bit of your story here, please leave a comment, or contact me. John McCormick, Gaslight News editor


Bicycle Races – Past, Present, and Hopefully, Future

History may indeed have been made on June 12, 2011, if the recently held Historic Riverton Criterium turns out to become another borough tradition as many hope.

HSR member Mrs. Pat Solin had a ringside seat for the main event from her front door at Fourth and Main .

She writes:

photo by Lee Rogers

“…all cars had to be off the streets.  Police set up barriers and town maintenance folk cleaned the street of debris to ensure a safe ride for the participants.  The weather was beautiful for the race… We could hear a live band, and folks lined the street along the route to cheer for their favorite riders.  Our neighbors had company over and made it an ‘event.’  We watched the riders from time to time either from the curb or from within the house because, as you noted, they sped by directly in front of the house.”

I knew that the race was coming because  HSR President Gerald Weaber had copied me on an email that he had received. Someone helping with organizing the Historic Riverton Criterium had a question about the age of a house.

Riverton Athletic Assn. quarter-mile bicycle track – note roof of old passenger PRR station in distance at right; roof of present-day Zena’s near center

First off, I had to look up criterium.” in the dictionary.

Then I anticipated that the organizers might want to know that Riverton once held bicycle races and even had a bicycle track, now long gone. I didn’t hear anything further after I sent along a link to Mrs. Pat Solin’s September 2009 Gaslight News article, “The Fine Grounds of the Riverton Athletic Association,” and another link from the New York Times archives showing a map of the old bicycle track near Thomas Avenue and Broad Street.

In her September GN piece, Pat traces the development of the Riverton Athletic Association from its beginning in July 1865, just after the Civil War, as simply some amateurs playing baseball in Biddle’s apple orchard to its involvement in an array of other popular sports, including bicycling. A highlight of the story is the account of a contest that will probably never again be duplicated, a 150-mile race from the steps of the New York Times building in New York City and culminating at Riverton’s packed to capacity bicycle stadium. Click here to read the whole incredible story.

1890 map detail – Riverton Ball Club Grounds at Broad and Thomas later became the bicycle stadium

In any case, I imagine that the information eventually made its way to Jeannie O’Sullivan, staff writer for the Burlington County Times, who wrote a delightful story cleverly contrasting the old and new races.  You can find the complete article, photos, and a YouTube video by clicking on this link.

You can read the chatter between the members of the Historic Riverton Criterium Facebook group as the event progressed from planning and development, to race day, and posting of the results. In addition, there are dozens of photographs of the day’s activities, posted by several different photographers. The students of Mr. Christian Hochenberger’s Shawnee High School Photography Club posted over 300 photos here. Do not miss viewing the set taken by Lee Rogers, owner of Bicycle Therapy, a race sponsor who posted on Flickr, the photo-sharing site.

If you’d like to see more New York Times articles of yesteryear, use the advanced search option of the New York Times archive to search issues from 1851-1980 for Riverton-related articles. Browse at your own risk, however, as it can not only become addictive, but hours can fly by reading about those times past.

graphic for 1890 bicycling column in The Sporting Life

Another place to look for sports news of all sorts related to Riverton is in the pages of The Sporting Life, a weekly sports news publication printed in Philadelphia from 1885-1917, and now found online at the sports research library of the LA84 Foundation. There you can read about the famous Riverton Gun Club, the legendary “Riverton Nines” baseball team, yacht races, football, bicycle races, swimming–even cricket. Here is the link for the LA84 search page.

In addition to enlarging my vocabulary, further investigation into this cycling phenomenon has resulted in finding yet another “Yesterday” column written by Mrs. Betty B. Hahle over thirty years ago for the May 1981 issue of Gaslight News which sheds more light on those bicycle races of the late 19th century. Following is an account of the opening of the Riverton Athletic Association’s new quarter-mile track in 1894. As Betty wished, the re-publication of her work which follows is printed exactly as it originally appeared:

“As bicycling grew in popularity, Wheelmen’s Clubs were formed and meets became a part of the growing interest in athletic events.

Bicycle Century Run under auspices of Riverton Athletic Assn. Camden to Atlantic City via Gloucester – Gloucester-Woodbury Turnpike, Westville Toll Gate – Sept. 8, 1894

Riverton’s team used a track on Fulton street, below the railroad, and then a larger one above the railroad, where Lippincott, Thomas, and 7th streets are today. June of 1894 saw the new track completed there, in time for the riders to begin training for the big meet on July 4th. It was the widest 1/4 mile track in the world, designed by O.S. Bunnell of Philadelphia, a much-respected cycler who would also be the referee on the big day.

Night Bicycle Race Medal – July 1, 1895

And what a day it must have been! Riverton, with a population numbering only a few hundred, had an attendance of nearly 4000, according to the papers. There were 8 class-A events, trick riders, an exhibition ½-mile ride by Harrison Barcus, a 5-year-old, on a 10 lb. wheel, and a 5-mile event that ‘kept spectators at fever heat from start to finish’. Julius Blauberg, a prominent caterer from Philadelphia, had charge of refreshment stands, and prizes–oh, the prizes…5 diamonds, gold and silver medals, jewelry, and many other valuable articles. A.J. Briggs, Riverton’s Athletic Association manager, kept things moving and was careful that all activities and decisions were fair. Soon color was introduced into the meets by having riders wear brightly colored shirts instead of numbers to identify them–and shortly there followed items of vandals breaking into the athletic building on the grounds and making off with ‘articles of clothing’. Fireworks were held at the bicycle grounds after the races.

In 1894 W.F. Sims was out to break his record of a mile in 2.11. He aimed to do it in 2 minutes–and made it. (Speed on the track was one thing; it was something else along the streets and paths of town, and increasingly there were reports of children being knocked down, teeth being lost in the process, and broken bones of older victims. Tempers grew short with this behavior–even on Sunday–and there were calls for dealing more severely with the culprets.”

Saying, “It makes obvious sense to tie in the racing history and the Historic Riverton Criterium,” Carlos Rogers, a 20-year veteran competitive cyclist whose vision it was to bring the amateur cycling meet to his newly adopted hometown (by marriage to the former Adrienne Gaughn), started planning for the race late last year. Mr. and Mrs. Rogers are owners and operators of the highly regarded Hush Salon in Philadelphia’s Old City District.

The novice promoter acknowledged the first-time challenges of navigating those uncertain waters of borough government and tradition and was, in the end, elated at the result. Taking stock of the event and the public’s reception to it, Carlos remarked, “By all accounts, from borough officials, riders, residents, and spectators, it was a resounding success.”

Let’s hope that history repeats itself in this case and that the Historic Riverton Criterium returns again next year. In the process we shall add another chapter to the history of cycling in Riverton, NJ.   – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

Clothier Clan Returns to Founder’s Bank Avenue Home

503 Bank taken August 2007

I felt like my name had just been listed in Boyd’s Philadelphia Blue Book, that fashionable private address directory for the socially elite of the late 1800s when HSR President Gerald Weaber, myself, and our spouses received invitations to attend the Clothier Family Reunion recently. Society members Mary Louise Bianco-Smith and Ken Smith hosted the event at their Bank Street home on Sunday, June 5, 2011.

Gerald Weaber finds the house on a map

There we mingled with several generations of descendants of Caleb Clothier, one of Riverton’s ten original founders, and listened to tales about their ancestors and Riverton history in the very home where Mr. Clothier had lived.  We toured the grand villa so faithfully restored and decorated that it looks just as if Caleb and the missus just stepped out for a stroll along the river.

Plan of the New Town of Riverton c. 1850

Noted journalist Sally Friedman, writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer, produced a wonderful piece about the day’s events accompanied by several professional photographs.  Ms. Friedman, notebook in hand, earnestly questioned many persons that day as her photographer inconspicuously captured priceless images of this rare convergence of the extended Clothier Family.

Clothier heirlooms and mementoes

When the questions came to me about the history of Riverton and the founder’s home in which we were visiting, I referred the reporter to the ultimate expert. I mean, how does one give a person a crash course on 160 years of Riverton history?

I sent Ms. Friedman the link to the Borough of Riverton’s website to find the concise Town History which Mrs. Betty B. Hahle wrote in 2004. You can see the marvelous result of the correspondent’s due diligence in getting the facts aligned with the Clothier family saga at the website.



antique music box once belonged to Isaac and Mary Clothier

Click here for a short video of Robert Taylor demonstrating the intricate imported music box mentioned and pictured in the Inquirer article.

For our contribution to the historical record I consulted some of Betty Hahle’s research stored in our archives which we have not yet posted on this website. The best capsule description of how Riverton began might be in Mrs. Hahle’s 1990 introduction to the VHS videotape version of The Romance of Riverton, a deteriorating nitrate-based 1926 film which she helped rescue in 1980, by first having it transferred to modern safety film, then to videotape.

map detail - note Clothier home

“Riverton was founded in 1851 by a group of ten men usually referred to as ‘Philadelphia merchants’ who were seeking a place to build their summer homes away from the City’s problems, yet close enough to commute to their Center City places of business.

They were familiar with this area from family ties in the area, and from Friends’ meetings, and jointly purchased 120 acres of Joseph Lippincott’s farm that lay between the Delaware River and the railroad line. Robert and William C. Biddle, Prof. Charles D. Cleveland, Caleb and James Clothier, Chalkley Gillingham, Daniel L. Miller Jr., Dillwyn and William D. Parrish, and Rodman Wharton engaged architect Samuel Sloan to design their new village, to be called ‘Riverton.’ His plan included not only the founders’ riverfront villas, but also 105 building lots, streets, a walled and landscaped riverbank, a pier for steamboat landings, a railroad station at the upper end of town, and a small general store on the point opposite it. According to the noted historian of American architecture, Henry Russell Hitchcock, Riverton was the first wholly planned residential subdivision in America.”

View of RYC and Delaware River from the front lawn

From Betty’s “Yesterday” column in the February 1981 Gaslight News we learn briefly of the business dealings of the ten “Philadelphia merchants”:

“The Philadelphians who founded the village of Riverton lived and/or had businesses in Old Philadelphia, shared a love of sailing, and a friendship and trust that permitted arrange­ments to be sealed, with a handshake. The Jersey side of the Delaware was familiar to them not only from sailing into its coves, but also through business contacts. William D. Parrish had for some years advertised in Burlington county papers (wholesale dealer in paper, rags, school books, blank books, writing paper, printing and wrapping paper, wall and. curtain paper, all at manufacturer’s prices), as had others of the group. Dillwyn Parrish was a druggist, Robert Biddle a hardware merchant, Caleb Clothier dealt in bricklaying, Rodman Wharton in paints, and Prof. Charles D. Cleveland”… “had a girls’ school. Miller McKim”… “had an anti-slavery office near Cleveland’s school…”

Clothier 50th Anniversary

Memorial testimony at a meeting recorded in the Friends’ Intelligencer United with the Friends’Journal, Philadelphia, Sixth Month (June) 13, 1885, regarding the “humble and upright life” of Caleb Clothier mentions his involvement in the Abolitionist Movement: “He was early an earnest worker in the Anti-Slavery cause, and many a poor fugitive from bondage received his active and material aid.” Riverton is never mentioned, however, in this lengthy obituary from the Quaker perspective.

From another “Yesterday” column in the November 1979 Gaslight News we learn that Caleb Clothier sold the property and … “Edward Ogden, capitalist and 1st Mayor of Riverton, lived in the Caleb Clothier house at 503 Bank.”

Bing map - screenshot only

Here’s a link to a Bing Map of 503 Bank Avenue. You should see a bird’s-eye aerial photo map with a “pin” stuck in the location for 503 Bank.

You can choose to further explore the Riverton of today by using the navigation controls along the top margin of the map to zoom or rotate your view.

Regular readers may recall the January 30th entry, “Whoa, this is heavy!” which described the new Historypin website in which you can take a virtual drive through some of Riverton’s main thoroughfares.

From the Editor’s Desk: Readers, please note that you can find a summary of the Annual Meeting held at The Bank on Main on June 9, 2011. on the Programs and Events page.

The Society may be on summer hiatus, but please continue to check back here for more history of Riverton and the region. If you have something to bring to our attention regarding a story idea, comments or criticism, or you would like to make a donation which would help us in our mission to  “discover, restore, and preserve local objects and landmarks, and to continue to expand our knowledge of the area,” please do not hesitate to bring it to our attention. Remember our easy address, and tell your neighbors and friends who have moved away about us. – John McCormick, Gaslight News Editor





May 2011 Annual Meet Convenes at The Bank on Main

The Bank on Main - open for business once again

The Historical Society of Riverton held its Annual Meeting June 9, 2011, at The Bank on Main, courtesy of the Antonucci Family of Riverton. First constructed for the Cinnaminson Bank & Trust Company in 1928, its new owners have transformed the building’s interior into an attractive venue for business and social events.

In the business portion of the annual meeting members approved a slate of new or returning directors, including Pat Brunker, Donald Dietz, William McDermott, J. Edward Gilmore, Nancy Hall, John McCormick, Phyllis Rodgers, Mary Lou Smith, Michael Spinelli, and Cheryl Smekal.  A number of By-Law proposals received approval with one change, suggested by Mr. Paul Schopp. Members approved his motion to change the quorum for a Board meeting to nine.  Click here find the full text of the By-Laws to passed June 9, 2011.

The massive original vault remains the focal point of the room. Round linen-covered banquet exhibit tables flanked the carpeted part of the room and chairs arranged in rows on a magnificent marble dance floor in the center of the space faced the vault. The high ceiling, large windows, and sparkling chandelier hanging from the center of a huge, ornately carved medallion that dominates the ceiling all served to create an elegant setting befitting the main portion of the meeting; to celebrate the life of Mrs. Betty B. Hahle, Town Historian, who passed away on April 17, 2011. A large photo collage poster of Mrs. Hahle placed next to the vault represented some of her many accomplishments and provided a backdrop for the remarks and accolades of the speakers.

President of the Historical Society of Riverton, Gerald Weaber, started by reviewing the life of Mrs. Hahle, highlighting her contributions to virtually every Riverton organization and stressing her dedication and commitment to preserving Riverton’s history and character.  Her meticulous investigating and record keeping, pursued with passion, earned her a place in Riverton’s history.  Mayor Robert Martin then presented a proclamation to the daughters of Mrs. Hahle, Donna Hahle Kirkland and Marilyn R. Hahle.

Several members of the audience shared memories of Betty Hahle by illustrating examples of her generosity in sharing her extensive knowledge of Riverton while others cited her success in raising her three daughters.

A four-part a capella group called Three Good Men smoothly segued into the entertainment part of the meeting by appropriately choosing “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” as their opening number. They continued the historical theme by serving up an eclectic mix of songs from classic barbershop to Rock & Roll and Doo-Wop, freely seasoned with jokes and puns. The inclusion of “God Bless America” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” on the same set list indicates the versatility of this talented quartet. We even learned history trivia; “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” (1942) was the first ever gold record. Clearly, the foursome achieved their website’s description of “the essence of Barbershop” by liberally “ringing chords” off those stately old bank walls for the entire performance.

Even a mid-meeting power outage which left only dimmed emergency lights to illuminate the chamber failed to dampen anyone’s spirit or curtail the marvelous entertainment from our a capella quartet, which fortunately required no electricity.  At the conclusion, HSR President Gerald Weaber invited participants to enjoy refreshments.  Three Good Men continued their convivial exhibition by harmonizing “Happy Birthday” for two HSR Geminis, Mrs. Linda McCormick and Mrs. Phyllis Rogers and serenading bride-to-be, Keri Antonucci with a song .

We sincerely thank the Antonucci Family for so generously extending to the Historical Society the use of this splendid facility for our Annual Meeting. Find out more about this new multi-purpose banquet hall and event facility at the Antonucci Ventures LLC website.

That was our last meeting for the summer, but check back often for more additions to this website. Our expanded HSR Board will be busy planning for the next 2011-2012 season. Please consider donating items to the Society as you de-clutter or downsize belongings. We also welcome your submissions of recollections, comments, photos, scans, etc. for possible publication in the Gaslight News or on this website.  – Co-written and photographed by: Mrs. Susan Dechnik and John McCormick


Recap of February 2011 HSR Meeting

In another case of "The Student becomes the Master," young Michael Solin has patiently tutored his former teacher in the intricacies of WordPress web design. Now retired, Mr. McCormick expresses his deep appreciation to Mike for making the website possible. Acknowledging Mike's prodigious computer skills, Mr. McCormick quipped, "I have sweaters older than this guy, and now he's showing me how to do things that I've always wanted to do on this website, but couldn't." Mrs. Natalie Ragomo (2nd from right), who taught Mike in kindergarten, is amused.
Congratulations on a successful roll-out of the new web site for the Historical Society of Riverton. Our appreciation goes out to the web site development team led by John McCormick and the Solins – Mike and Pat.



Members of the Society marveled at the rich content and beautiful stereo slides and postcard images of life in the 1920s. John McCormick’s blog is a fresh and informative perspective on Riverton, its people and historic structures.

Mr. Gerald Weaber addresses the twenty-two ardent local history fans who braved a cold drizzle to attend the screening of Mr. Francis Cole's oral history video and take a hands-on tour of the HSR website.
Thanks to the many Society members and friends who have shared their images on the web site.


Dr. Cliff Johnson attended the Society meeting to hear the oral history of Francis Cole whose family owned Cole Dairy at 501 Main Street in Riverton. Dr. Johnson, who was born in 1920, and lived in the Riverton-Palmyra areas since he was three years old, commented tonight, “I went to school with the girl who painted your masthead- Anne Knight Ruff,” and he went on to identify the members of the Palmyra Police Department during the Depression when Police Chief Maurice Beck and patrolman Bucky Wallace led the force.


HSR Pres. Gerald Weaber and Dr. Cliff Johnson confer as Mike Solin watches Ms. Cheryl Smekal explore the HSR website. In back, Ms. Peggy Trauger Crook and Mr. Jeff Chambers check out the site.
Dr. Johnson is the father of Society member Cheryl Johnson Smekal.  Dr. Johnson’s dentistry practice was located at 433 Thomas Avenue in Riverton and is still the oldest structure on that street dating from circa 1869. Dr. Johnson purchased the home from the Coddington family which operated a paint and wallpaper store in town.



The mysteries of Riverton’s past continue to be revealed as more people explore the web site and contribute images, memories and identify the faces of town folk long forgotten yet whose contributions to our community made Riverton such a special place to live along the banks of the Delaware River in New Jersey.  – Gerald Weaber, HSR President

My Vertical Climb on the Blogger’s Learning Curve

We have never had the capability on our website until now to post video clips. Turns out that HSR President Gerald Weaber has a stash of video clips recorded at various events over the last few years. He set us up with a YouTube account, and Mike Solin, our computer guy, added a YouTube button to my WordPress Dashboard, so I’ll take this new feature for a test drive.

Surely, there are many more Riverton related videos, vintage photos, and missing bits of information out there in cyberspace. When I get the hang of making use of the social networking potential of Facebook, we can make the resources of a wider community of history lovers available and start some discussions.

This first video is a slide show about Riverton’s 2006 Victorian Day.

The next three are from Victorian day 2007. Here is the first of three short clips,  “Civil War reenactor, Miss Amanda, on Victorian Day 2007, at HSR Museum for a Day.”

“Civil War reenactor, Mr. Allan, on Victorian Day 2007, at HSR Museum for a Day”

Last, is this too short clip of maestro William “Willie” Harris, who passed away in December 2010.

I look forward to receiving and posting  more files for videos, texts, slideshows, and scans of photos, maps, and ephemera from Rivertonians near and far. – John McCormick, Gaslight News Editor


Ice Skaters on Delaware River – Lee Cook, Sonny Wright, Mr Allen 1908 PHOTO CREDIT: ELSIE WATERS
SNOW DAY! Are there any sweeter words to be heard when one is of school age?  I confess that, even as a school teacher, there were days in which I welcomed that phone call. Today’s Riverton students no longer wait praying by the radio hoping to hear the name “Riverton Public School,” or even the school closing number. Instead, they receive an automated phone message triggered by the principal to tell of the glorious news directly to their home phone. But, imagine having four snow days in a row. It happened in Riverton in 1889.

The recent 14-15 inch snowfall may indeed give some of us symptoms of “snow fatigue,” but it was a minor nuisance compared to snowstorms with which Riverton had to bear during the years 1888 and 1889.  In her “Yesterday” column in the February 1979 Gaslight News, Town Historian Mrs. Betty B. Hahle cited an 1888 Receipt Book of William F. Morgan in which it was noted that…”The Great Blizzard occurred March 12th 1888.”  … “The second occurred Feb. 12 and 13th 1899. It snowed for 52 hours.”

Mr. Gerald Weaber reported in his November 2009 GN article, “The Fascinating Fitler Family” that during the March 1888 storm, drifts reached fifteen to thirty feet high along the riverbank. One subject of Mr. Weaber’s article, Dale Baker Fitler, was born in Riverton exactly nine months after the March 1888 blizzard.

Finally, this newspaper scan from The New Era newspaper reports that sleighs of all types made an appearance on Main Street on Friday, February 10, 1889 as the result of a severe snowstorm which cause a temporary food scarcity and closed school from Monday through Thursday.

From the newspaper account describing the town finding fun on Main Street after emerging from four days of being snowbound and the looks of joy on these skaters’ faces, I don’t think that these citizens of old Riverton suffered from snow fatigue.

I invite you to tell how you spent your Riverton “snow days,” whenever they may have been.  – John McCormick, Gaslight News Editor

Victorian Day, 2007

Riverton’s second annual Victorian Day was held on Saturday, June 2, 2007, and provided the community with an opportunity to visit the HSR museum set-up for the day at 408 Main Street.  Thanks go out to Pat & Richard Brunker, Bob Benarek, as well as Paul Daly, Joann DiNoia, Rob Hoag, Aggie & Bob Kennedy, John McCormick, Phyllis Rodgers, Priscilla Taylor, Elise Waters, and Gerald Weaber.

We appreciate the use of the former clinic of Dr. Alexander Marcy, Jr. as our museum for the day, offered by Dr. Anthony Cherico and family.

We especially appreciate the efforts of Phyllis Rodgers of The New Leaf, the Riverton Civic and Business Association, and the Economic Development Committee who all sponsored Riverson’s Second Annual Victorian Day.