Filling in some missing pieces

Just want to let you know that a couple of new posts are on the website – they are just on other tabs. There’s a recap of the Feb. 24th Plum Run performance at Riverview Estates on the Programs and Events page.

At the conclusion of that program, a Riverview staff member gave me two hardback “coffee table” books that someone attending the performance had asked him to give to the Historical Society. No word of the anonymous benefactor, so I’ll just express our thanks here.

Beach Haven Yacht Club, Beach Haven, NJ
Another bonus was that HSR member John Palko sought me out to loan us some postcards for scanning and posting to the LBI section of the Images page. These seven vintage linen-era postcards truly are in mint condition. They are shown in the picture gallery below and are also integrated with the dozens of other Long Beach Island views on the Images page.

Regular visitors to this website know that the Society actually owns a scant few of the postcards displayed on the Images page. Almost all the images are the result of the kindnesses of many people who have either sent us files of scanned images or allowed us to do the scanning.

We, of course, love to receive donations of items. However, given the limited supply of these unique and historically important artifacts and collectibles, a photo of the item is preferable to nothing at all. We are fortunate indeed to have received so many scanned images and are in a position to share them with a wider audience.

When you send in your comments and recollections about an image or a story posted here, it becomes part of what might be termed the Society’s “collective memories” and often helps fill in missing pieces or gives another perspective to a topic. So please, find those comment icons throughout this website and leave some memories behind.

Riverton Post Office RPPC courtesyDoug D’Avino, “Post Offices of New Jersey – A History Told Through Postcards,” New Jersey Postal History Society
While on the subject of postcards, here is a choice real photo post card (RPPC) of a  Riverton landmark. Better known as Freddy”s Shoe Repair today, this frame building at 609 Main Street has experienced several past lives in its various reincarnations through Riverton’s former times.

Click on the image to get the larger resolution version. Notice the shape of the windows on the back addition to 609 Main.

The pointed tops of those Gothic shaped windows are a clue to the building’s first purpose as a Sunday school building that William P. Ellison presented to Christ Episcopal parish in 1876 as a Centennial  offering. (1909 New Era, pg. 12)

When the church erected a new Parish House in 1895,  Samuel Rudderow, purchased the structure and moved it to its present site at 609 Main. Rudderow was a local architect-builder who constructed a number of the houses on Lippincott Avenue- at least some of them of his own design. (BBH GN #035 Sept 1984)

From 1904-1907 the newly formed Porch Club rented the building; they took possession of their permanent quarters at Fourth and Howard in 1909. (1909 New Era, pg. 19)

The building at 609 Main, now occupied by Freddy’s Shoe Repair, served as the fifth of Riverton’s eight post office locations from 1909-1931.

In 1937, the New Era newspaper moved its operation from 607 Main (partly visible at the left side of the postcard) where it remained until about 1975. (1965 New Era, pg. 18).

This rare postcard came into our virtual collection after the publication of the February newsletter  – the one with the article I co-wrote with Mrs. Pat Solin called, “Special Delivery – Riverton’s United States Post Office.”  While trolling the internet hoping to catch more information so I could produce a beefed up version of that post office story for our website I happened to find this picture displayed in a New Jersey Postal History Society’s photo gallery. 

To cut to the denouement, I struck a deal with the postcard owner – we get to display the former Riverton Post Office image and I will send him the extended version of our Riverton Post Office story when I finish it for publication in his newsletter. Win-win.

The longer article with more text, maps, photos, and newspaper clippings, etc. than could be fitted into the print edition is still in production. I’ll post it here when completed.

The New Jersey Postal History Society, established in 1972, has an extensive website filled with a wealth of research, information, resource links, a member photo gallery, and a calendar of events. Check out NJPHS member Doug D’Avino’s incredible photo gallery, “Post Offices of New Jersey – A History Told Through Postcards” where you will see dozens of NJ post offices from Adamston to Yardville represented on postcards .

You can find the latest February issue of our newsletter, the Gaslight News, under the Gaslight News tab.

I just picked up the March 2011 issue of The Positive Press when I was out today.  Publisher Regina M. Collinsgru did a super job on the layout for the Society’s article. It’s the same “Special Delivery” post office story that is in the Gaslight News, but that publication reaches many more households than we have on our membership rolls.

True to its name, The Positive Press prints news stories and human interest articles with an upbeat perspective, often with a nostalgic aspect. Send the link to a friend or family member across the miles so that they can catch up on hometown news from Riverside, Delanco, Delran, Palmyra, Riverton, and Cinnaminson.

Another recent post that might have been missed is the one on the creation of the Riverton Military and Veterans Affairs Committee by Riverton Borough Council. Find out more about it and see the updated Honor Roll Album – the HSR’s salute to honor those men and women of Riverton who have served their country in time of war – under the Riverton Veterans tab.

Since I posted the PowerPoint presentation about the Welsbach Streetlamp Company on which  Jeff Cole and I collaborated in 2007 (along with some other Welsbach literature), we have received several queries from visitors who have needed technical help or parts for their gaslamps. Find lots more Welsbach items here. Just to be clear – the Society doesn’t maintain the streetlights.

Boulevard Model Welsbach Gaslamp

These links are for suppliers that sell glass and acrylic globes for Welsbach lamps. The original company is long out of business. The only help I can give is to refer readers to the following vendor list.  Hope it helps. Like anything else, just be sure that you are getting the right part for your model. Riverton lamps are the Boulevard model. is based in Wisconsin. This page shows the globe (glass or acrylic)  and milkglass dome – parts often needing replacement. Same deal – Boulevard model reproduction parts  This company lists parts on the Victorian section of the catalog

I received word that former Riverton resident Marge Habernn moved to Virginia and left a New Era newspaper with an acquaintance to be donated to the Society. I only had to pick it up from Mike Digney – literally a block away from my home in Delran. This was extraordinarily thoughtful of Marge since this is an issue that is not in the microfilm collection of Riverton Library. There will be more about what we can glean from this priceless time capsule on another blog post. With no forwarding address for Ms. Habernn, I can only express my heartfelt thanks.

POCAX-2012 Announcement

If an interest in old postcards brought you here, you may want to save this date: May 5, 2012. The South Jersey Postcard Club is having a postcard show at Double Tree Suites Hotel in Mount Laurel. The next regular membership meeting is March 11 in Marlton. Find more information on their website.

That is how it goes here as we try to fill in the missing pieces of this Riverton history jigsaw puzzle.

Let us know if you can fill in another piece or if we have one in the wrong place. It’s more fun if we do this together.

– John McCormick, Gaslight News editor


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