Gotta love the Internet

seated at left and standing at right: HSR members Barbara and John Palko. Barbara has run the Home Arts & Crafts Tent for some 15 years at the Burlco Farm Fair.

Last week HSR President Gerald Weaber and I went to our History Faire tent at the Burlington County Farm Fair prepared to preach a litany of Riverton history sermons to the multitudes. There was some proselytizing on our part, to be sure, but I had the best time listening to the recollections of members of our own and other historical societies.

Too, there were visits from other local history buffs such as Nick Mortgu and wife Beth Lippincott who came hoping to find a source for searching some family genealogical information, which I believe, they found in County Historian Joe Laufer. They’ve been trying to find the burial site of one of Beth’s 17th century Quaker ancestors.

Nick is the historian for the RYC and an avid collector of all sorts of Riverton memorabilia. (Beth and he live in the historic 1860s era home that had been the site of Riverton’s Cole Dairy which was the focus of a Nov. 2010 Gaslight News article.)

While Beth and Joe were talking, Nick told me that Beth’s first ancestors to immigrate to the US, the Lovecott family, decided to rebadge the clan as Lippincotts.

I did not know that.

Then, Kim, one of my former students (so sweet that she didn’t introduce me to her young man as “my old teacher”) stopped by hoping to find a picture of her house or street in with the box of reproduction prints of vintage postcards that we had brought. No luck, but if you have looked for a particular street in our images collection, and don’t see it, ask for it at the end of this article and maybe the Universe will hear you.

Lucy Evelyn, Long Beach Island, NJ
Recently, Ms. Lois Gorbe, now residing in Florida, sent us two snapshots of the burned remains of the schooner Lucy Evelyn that once served as a one-of-a-kind gift shop in Beach Haven. She has fond memories of visiting the ship/shop as a child during the 1940s. It’s so cool for me to be able to help her and others remember the good ol’ days back in the neighborhood.

Now gone, like so many other landmarks and buildings in our Images compilation, perhaps the entire collection might better be called, “Things That Aren’t There Anymore.”  You can find them under Long Beach Island, NJ Images under the Images tab. Such unexpected bonus finds from across the miles were never possible for us before the launch of this website. Thank you, Lois.

Don't you love to get mail? We do, too.

Readers, wherever you are, please know that we would like to hear from you about your memories and images of Riverton and the region. We wish for this website to be a virtual meeting place for anyone who wants to know more about this region’s local history or has something to bring to our readers’ attention.  What could we in the HSR do to help you?

Historical societies from each corner of this largest of New Jersey’s 21 counties exhibited displays celebrating the founders, landmarks, and various movers and shakers throughout their respective histories which have made each community so unique. HSR President Gerald Weaber and I viewed the affair as a kind of mini-convention in which we could network with colleagues at other tables, as well as showcase our organization’s preservation efforts to the public.

Pierre Lorillard and his dog - Library of Congress

I so thoroughly enjoyed David Smith’s PowerPoint presentation summarizing his four-year long research project on the Rancocas Stud Farm owned by Gilded Age tobacco millionaire Pierre Lorillard IV that I listened to it twice.

David’s account of the life of this extraordinary entrepreneur and sportsman who traveled in the same rich and famous social circles as the Astors and Vanderbilts intrigued me, and it left me wondering how I hadn’t heard of him before.

Lorillard advertisement 1789

I mean, the Lorillard Tobacco Company is older than the United States! And it “invented” the cigar store Indian in order to advertise its products.  According to one school of thought, the tuxedo was invented by Pierre Lorillard IV and named after Tuxedo Park, a sportsman’s preserve and enclave of mansions he created out of 2,200 acres of mountain wilderness 40 miles outside New York City.

Certainly Pierre Lorillard IV had a head start when he inherited a large fortune from his father which included one of the most extensive tobacco companies in the world, but under his shrewd stewardship he shortly further increased his fortune at least tenfold.

Such history bits initially drew me in, but the tobacco magnate’s lofty triumphs in the sporting world coupled with his unimaginably extravagant lifestyle and colorful character makes for a compelling story of achievement and, at times, head-shaking disbelief.

David Smith hopes to write a book that begins with the tobacco company’s 1760 founding which created such fabulous wealth for the Lorillard dynasty that they could engage in horse breeding and horse racing, dog breeding, yacht racing, financing excavations of Mayan ruins in Central America, the building of incredibly lavish homes and estates, and the development of a country club and luxury retreat for the super rich.

NYTimes headline: How Mr. Lorillard Divided His Estate, July 14, 1901

Lorillard died at 67 in 1901, and willed Rancocas Stud Farm, now known as Helis Stock Farm, to his mistress Lily Livingston (AKA Lily Allien), and the sensational scandal that resulted played out in the pages of the New York Times for all to see.  A book that could tell the epic story of the tobacco heir’s bigger than life bio along with all of his diverse sporting and commercial interests plus include the development of his company would be weighty, indeed.

I’m thinking a blockbuster movie or maybe an HBO mini-series a lá the glitz and glam of Boardwalk Empire (without the gunplay) would be the way to tell this story. Who could play Young Pierre? Who would you cast for Mrs. Lorillard, Older Pierre, and Lily?

Each of our historical societies has colorful characters and persons of achievement perhaps just as compelling Pierre Lorillard, even if not as rich. For our diminutive borough, it’s the Ogdens, Grices, Dreers, Lippincotts, and Dorrances of years past, with new names of people who have effected recent change such as Betty Hahle now added to that honored roll. Who’s on your town’s list?

Unidentified Union Soldier - Library of Congress

We are always looking to expand our virtual image collection and add to our knowledge base. The latest plea was for information from anyone with a Riverton Civil War veteran tucked back in one of those branches of their family tree.

Ultimately, we hope to investigate the position taken by Riverton women, area Quakers, the general public, the business community, and various Riverton institutions toward the Civil War, so please let us know what you can. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor





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

The HSR takes our show on the road – July 20-23, 2011

Save the Date: The Historical Society of Riverton takes our show to the road next week as we join every local historical society in the County for a “History Faire at the County Fair.”

We will set up an information table in the new History Faire Tent where we will share information with visitors. In honor of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, we will explore Riverton’s response to defend the Union during the Civil War.

Riverton’s response to the conflict can be interpreted more broadly than simply who served in the military. Readers, if you are aware of any Civil War veterans who would have at some point lived in Riverton,, before or after their service, please advise. Some people may have been involved in manufacturing or providing a service which supported the war effort. How did a community founded by mostly Quakers deal with the War? Those strong Riverton women folk must have played a part, but information is scant.

If any Readers can help with any information in this regard, please contact us.

You can find out more about the Burlington County Farm Fair on the official website and get more details about the History Faire on the website of Joe Laufer, our incredibly creative and prolific County Historian.  Joe does not overstate when he bills the website as YOUR ONE-STOP LOCAL HISTORY RESOURCE.  Visit his comprehensive website and you will want to bookmark it as a favorite. But please keep stopping back here to see what’s new.

The Burlington County Farm Fair has a new location for 2011.  It will be held at the new and bigger Burlington County Fairgrounds at 1990 Jacksonville Jobstown Road; Columbus, NJ 08022 (corner of Route 206 & Jacksonville Jobstown Road).  Just 1/4 mile south of the Columbus Farmer’s Market.  Here’s a link to a Philadelphia Inquirer article about the new venue. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor