Family pix of 1913 suffrage trek to DC may have a local connection

Luncheon at Haines Pond, Steel Family Album

In 2015, Nancy and Bill Steel’s family photo album yielded early 20th-century images of what may have been Riverton’s first swimming pool, H. McIlvain Biddle’s iceboat plying the Delaware River, a bi-wing seaplane afloat near Riverton Yacht Club, and a group of apparent suffragists lunching at Haine’s Pond, Burlington Pike.

Visual treats, indeed, despite the lack of accompanying notes that might have given them more context.

In a year in which a woman is the first female presidential nominee of a major party, the enigmatic photos of crowds walking, singing, and bearing “VOTES FOR WOMEN” signs at several Burlington County locales warrant revisiting the Steel photo album.

Col. Ida Kraft speaking at Bridgeboro
Col. Ida Kraft speaking at Bridgeboro, Steel Family Album

Peculiarly referred to in captions as Col. Ida Kraft* (spelling varied), Corp. Martha Kaltschkin*, and Gen. Rosalie Jones, the women, and their “Pilgrim Army” had piqued my interest. (see CORRECTIONS below)

Mrs. J. Hardy Stubbs, Miss Ida Craft, Miss Rosalie Jones
Mrs. J. Hardy Stubbs, Miss Ida Craft, Miss Rosalie Jones, Library of Congress

Some newspaper research and many Google hits later led me to this Library of Congress photo documenting the 1913 suffrage hike from New York City which culminated in an immense suffrage parade in Washington, D.C. timed to coincide with newly elected President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration.

excerpt: Mob buffets hikers now in Philadelphia, New York Times, Feb. 17, 1913
excerpt: Mob buffets hikers now in Philadelphia, New York Times, Feb. 17, 1913

Newspaper accounts confirmed that the hikers did indeed pass through these parts.

Turns out, the Steel family album documents an important chapter in the long fight for women’s right to vote.

What would those pioneers think of today’s developments in the Election of 2016?

(Philadelphia) Sunday Evening Times, Feb. 16, 1913
(Philadelphia) Sunday Evening Times, Feb. 16, 1913

Dubbed “The Army of the Hudson” by newspapers, General Jones considered the movement of women to become enfranchised of as much importance to this country as General Washington’s celebrated crossing of the Delaware. Jones and her “pilgrims” marched 230 miles in 17 days to the nation’s capital.

Women Open Headquarters, January 11, 1913 Denver Post, p. 8
Women Open Headquarters, January 11, 1913, Denver Post, p. 8

Meanwhile, Alice Paul, the acclaimed 28-year-old Quaker suffragist from nearby Mt. Laurel, had been in Washington working for the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) since December 1912.

1280px-official_program_-_woman_suffrage_procession_march_3_1913_-_cropAs chair of NAWSA’s Congressional Committee, she strategized, raised funds, organized, and maximized publicity for the first suffragist parade in Washington, D.C., known officially as the Woman Suffrage Procession.

Woman's Journal and Suffrage News, March 8, 1913
Woman’s Journal and Suffrage News, March 8, 1913
Inez Milholland Boissevain preparing to lead the March 3, 1913
Inez Milholland Boissevain preparing to lead the March 3, 1913 suffrage parade

Imagine a parade of 8,000 marchers with 26 floats with costumed suffragists, bands, speakers, and mounted brigades led by Inez Milholland, acknowledged as “the most beautiful suffragist, dressed in Greek robes and astride a white horse as a half-million spectators clogged the Pennsylvania Avenue route to the White House.

March 7, 1913, Philadelphia Inquirer, p.5

The nation observed the spectacle through countless newspaper accounts.

A later scandal asserting a lack of response by police to the violence perpetrated by suffrage opponents in the crowd fueled tremendous sympathetic publicity.

However, it was not to be until 1920 that the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing no state could deny the right to vote on the basis of sex.

Some circumstantial evidence suggests that perhaps at least some Rivertonians took part in the women’s suffrage events of 1913.

  • Alice Paul graduated from Swarthmore College in 1905, a Quaker institution co-founded by her grandfather, Judge William Parry, an important figure in local history. Accounts inform us that, at the parade, she marched with a contingent of Swarthmore friends.
  • Many members of prominent Riverton families had attended Swarthmore including Beulah and Susanna Parry, Hetty Coale Lippincott, Martha McIlvain Biddle, Clara Atlee, Ruth Hunt Conrow, Abigail Mary Ellsworth, Esther Fisher Holmes, Anna Lippincott Miller, and Elisabeth Somers Williams.
  • Alice Paul’s father, William Mickel Paul, was vice-president of the Riverton and Palmyra Water Company and owned stock in the Tacony-Palmya Ferry Company.
  • Perhaps not coincidentally, the record also shows that Riverton clubwomen such as Mary Van Meter Grice, Mrs. D. Henry Wright, Mary L. Thomas, Amelia Coale, Edith Coale, and others were involved in the women’s movement.
  • In 1904, Helen Lippincott, Swarthmore alum and Porch Club Charter Member, called for the formation of a Suffrage Section, or department, at the Porch Club.  Later she served as a delegate to the November 1912 National Convention of the Women’s Suffrage Association at which Alice Paul was an alternate delegate.

Suffice it to say that the timing and locations allow for the possibility that at least some Riverton women helped advance the cause of women’s rights.

Gen. Rosalie Jones and gospel wagon Miss Alice Freeman in background, Steel Family Album
Gen. Rosalie Jones and gospel wagon Miss Alice Freeman* in background, Steel Family Album

Here’s my question: Are the pictures in the Steel album because an ancestor or acquaintance participated in the march? Further, is there a deeper connection to Riverton history somehow?

The captions do not say and the Mr. and Mrs. Steel do not know.

We could use a hand with this one, Readers. – JMc

Added 11-4-2016: See a more detailed version of this story in the November issue of the Gaslight News.

Added 4-7-2019: Roger Prichard explains where the luncheon at Haines Pond took place. Give the large file a sec to load.

*Corrections 7-7-2021: Further research has confirmed that the captions included with the original photos incorrectly spelled Craft with a “K.” Also, Martha Kaltschkin should be spelled Martha Klatschken and Alice Freeman was misidentified as Elisabeth Freeman. Thank you to Jane Swersey who put us on the right track.

Totally worth it

IMG_0798 (Copy)

Linda McCormick, Phyllis Rodgers, Susan Dechnik
Linda McCormick, Phyllis Rodgers, Susan Dechnik

The rain held off this morning and even when it came it was just intermittently drizzly.

Soon we almost had enough people to convene a meeting of Retired Riverton School Teachers.

It was great to catch up with RPS alum, Kim Piotrowski, with her mom, Ann Marie.

We enjoyed conversing with browsers who came by the Porch Club during the Garden Tour.

May Hannah brought by a color postcard of Fulton Street, c.1912, for me to scan.

IMG_0857 (Copy)Shown here framed, click here to see the retouched scan I made from it.

In the course of congratulating Tom Shaw on the work he is doing on his house at 301 Main Street the origin story of the famous Duster sailboat came up.

Duster history, The New Era, March 11, 1937, p3
Duster history, The New Era, March 11, 1937, p3

Local lore holds that Owen Merrill designed and built the first Duster there in a room on the 3rd floor. He and some friends lowered the craft from a window, took it down to the river, and christened it a “Duster”.  It became a world-class sailboat.

Tom is convinced that he has seen a newspaper photo of that moment – but where? Let’s ask the universe to find it. If a reader can direct me, please help. Tom wants to find an old Duster, seaworthy or not, that he can plant in his garden as a kind of “The Duster was born here” historical marker.

IMG_0856 (Copy)After grazing on a luncheon plate of goodies prepared by the Porch Club women, I also bought two table centerpieces composed of papier mache birds and plants in tiny Dreer’s Nursery terracotta flower pots that were found on the riverbank near the Pompeston Creek.

IMG_0851 (Copy)Bunched together here on my picnic table in Delran they will wind up in the HSR Museum at some point. It is coming together slowly… very slowly.

Oh yeah, we also sold five mugs, too, so the day spent was totally worth it.  – JMc


Summer winds down and the Society revs up

201 River Bank
201 River Bank

These remarkable photos from Nancy and Bill Steel’s family album offer a rare glimpse into early 20th century Riverton.

Porch Club (Copy)Do you recognize this Riverton landmark in its earlier days?

Built in 1909 as the clubhouse for an organization celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2015, it has a much different look here than in a later postcard view.

In an August 3rd post called Hot enough for ya? candid shots of the Fitler family of 109 Bank Avenue cavorting in a homemade swimming drew possibly the most traffic ever to this website and rekindled memories of those who later learned to swim in Bay Ruff’s pool. These scans came from that same album.

RYC biplane - no caption
RYC biplane – no caption


This photo had no caption or date, but you can see the Yacht Club in the background. Somewhere I have the name of a pilot who flew passengers around Riverton for a fee. But who is the woman?

We are often asked here what we have on file about the history of a house. Except for a few founders’ homes, we have precious little, I am afraid.

However, the 1999 Riverton National Register Historic District Inventory has short summary descriptions for over 500 structures. Mrs. Patricia Solin, a frequent contributor to the Gaslight News, reports that she will have some helps to publish here later this fall for those wishing to research the history of their home.

212 Thomas 1905
212 Thomas 1905
212 Thomas 1905
212 Thomas 1905

A new homeowner once told me how much they appreciated receiving from their seller a box of documents and old photos about the history of their just purchased house.

These photos taken in 1905 would be invaluable to a person trying to recreate original architectural details.

Note the oil lamp on the post that predates the Welsbach gaslamps. Do you have any photos of your home back in the day you could send in?

In a year in which we have a woman candidate running for president, an intriguing sequence of photos about suffragists marching to gain the right to vote prompted me google some of the names I read in the captions.

Col. Ida Kraft speaking at Bridgeboro
Col. Ida Kraft speaking at Bridgeboro

I learned Col. Ida Kraft (also spelled Craft) and her army of Pilgrims were actually a real thing and a very big deal. But are the pictures in this album because a family member was involved in the march?

The captions do not say and the Steels do not know.

I couldn’t wait for cold weather to share this next one. I have heard of people walking on the river ice way back when, but a wind powered iceboat must be something to see.

Delving into the Steel family album reminds us that there are still some surprises to be found in Riverton history, but sometimes they present more questions than answers.

H. McIlvain Biddle's iceboat
H. McIlvain Biddle’s iceboat

If you have any more surprises to throw into the mix, or can help connect the dots to some of these random bits, please join the conversation here at

Won’t you support the Historical Society of Riverton’s efforts to preserve and promote the history of this “unique” town in the only way that matters with your membership?

The Society gets an earlier than usual start on the season this time with its first event on September 10. Read more about it and other calendar events in our SUMMER EXTRA Gaslight News, a two-page late August summary of upcoming events and recap of summer web posts. – JMc

Home preservation and four anniversaries headline Awards Night

Our much expanded Second Annual Daniel Campbell Riverton Awards Night took place April 16 at the Porch Club.

Homeowners brought photos and each explained their unique process involved in executing their restoration projects.

Dan Campbell, left, Adrienne Rogers, right, with the Society's "Diamond in the Rough"
Dan Campbell, left, Adrienne Rogers, right, with the Society’s crystal keepsake

Society President Phyllis Rodgers presented each recipient with an award to symbolize their home’s transformation from a diamond in the rough to a vision realized.

Heartfelt thanks to Paul Daly for his years of service in many capacities
Heartfelt thanks to Paul Daly for his years of service in many capacities

As originally conceived, it was again a night to congratulate and say ‘thank-you’ to a number of people who have served the Historical Society of Riverton.

The big addition to the agenda was the observance of milestone anniversaries of four of Riverton’s finest organizations – Riverton School’s 150th anniversary, the Porch Club’s 125th , Riverton Yacht Club’s 150th, and Riverton Fire Company’s 125th.

A cake for four anniversaries
A cake for four anniversaries

It was all the excuse we needed for a big cake!

Many details of the big night are shown in the four attached slideshows. Text below indicates the content of each part.

(The slideshows contain several links to external content, so check OK  or you will not see it.)

SLIDESHOW 1 covers the part shown in black text of the AGENDA below. (21 slides, 13.5MB)

SLIDESHOW 2 covers the part shown in green. (30 slides, 18.5MB)

SLIDESHOW 3 has only one topic, Riverton Yacht Club, but is the longest. (35 slides, 17.3MB)

SLIDESHOW 4, shown in the AGENDA in red, contains the Riverton Fire Company and some photos of the evening (10 slides, 10.5MB)

April 16, 2015
Welcome – Acknowledgement of Board members and past presidents
Business – Nomination and election of Peg Crook and Morgan Leone for Board seats 
HSR Service Awards to retiring Board members – Paul Daly, Charlotte Lippincott,
Riverton School History Project Student Achievement Awards
Daniel Campbell Awards – Bolton, Downes, Rogers, Schweich, Borough Council
Special Service Awards – Michael Solin, Linda McCormick
Historical House Markers – Bill McDermott explains new process, 100 Park Ave.
Anniversaries – Mayor’s Proclamation
Riverton School
Porch Club
Riverton Yacht Club
Riverton Fire Company and candid photos of the whole event

certificates, trophies, mugs, and crystal keepsakes - tokens of achievement, recognition, and gratitude await their recipients
certificates, trophies, mugs, and crystal keepsakes – tokens of achievement, recognition, and gratitude await their recipients

– JMc

In case you missed it

In case you missed the bi-annual Garden Tour on June 2nd, sponsored by the Porch Club, you don’t have to wait two years for the next one because HSR President Gerald Weaber took these photos.

In advance of the Garden Tour, Christina Paciolla, a local journalist connected with CinnaminsonPatch, interviewed Rita Vittese and June Emens, co-chairs of this year’s event, about the eight private gardens on the tour. Her article, along with a map and descriptions of the garden locations, is found at this link.

Kristen Coppock, staff writer for, questioned the Porch Club co-chairs about the prize-winning Ladies Garden Quilt being raffled off, and she also previewed three of the gardens and posted several photos. Find that complete article at this link.

As always, we welcome your comments and contributions. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor

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


Riverton Museum for a Day on the Candlelight House Tour 2011

graphic credit: Bernard & Jean Markovitz

One Society member commented that the homes on the December 3rd Candlelight House Tour December were “…historic and all quite beautiful.”  This extraordinary biennial event invites the public inside some of the most distinctive homes and buildings in historic Riverton to raise funds for the Riverton Free Library.  Hundreds of admirers of 19th century architecture came from throughout the greater Philadelphia and South Jersey area to view the historic buildings all beautifully decorated for the holidays which included five private homes plus the Porch Club, Christ Churchand The New Leaf Tea Room and Gift Shoppe.

Click here for the PDF file of the Official 2011 Candlelight House Tour Brochure.

Curator Mrs. Cheryl Smekal welcomed scores of visitors to our limited-engagement museum.

Mrs. Phyllis Rodgers, proprietor of The New Leaf,  generously offered space to the Historical Society of Riverton (HSR) to host its popular Museum for a Day exhibition,  a traveling display of local Riverton artifacts, photographs and ephemera from its archives.  

The showing offered a special opportunity for its exhibit curator, Mrs. Cheryl Smekal, to display women’s period clothing and furnishings as well as rare objects belonging to prominent Riverton families. Mrs. Smekal organized the event with assistance and guidance from Society Board members Mrs. Pat Brunker, Mrs. Nancy Hall, Mrs. Phyllis Rodgers and Mr. John McCormick.

Can you guess the name or the use of these household items which might have been found in homes of the early 1900s?

A table covered with 16 household objects common to the earlier 1900s which beckoned to onlookers, “Can You Guess…?” sometimes created traffic gridlock as museum visitors seriously debated the various uses to which some of the more puzzling objects might be put.


John McCormick, Gaslight News editor, blogger, collector of Riverton objects and lore hopes to interest more people in contributing information and images to the Society.

John McCormick was on hand to answer questions from collectors and the public about memorabilia and collectible ephemera. John, a retired educator and local historian, offered  reproductions from his vast collection of local historic images with street views from local Burlington County towns. 


A display includes photos and artifacts from various business enterprises and a vertical wall banner which outlines the history of the New Leaf building.

John devoted a section of the show of artifacts to The New Leaf at 606 Main Street since that address has played a number of roles in Riverton’s business section since it first was the location of Ezra Perkins’ butcher shop about 1900.

You can view a PDF file of that banner that outlines the history of 606-608 Main Street here.

Always of special interest to collectors are the vintage post card reproductions photo-restored by John McCormick featuring Dreer’s Nursery, New Jersey shore resort towns like Long Beach Island, Ocean City, Stone Harbor, and other locales like Burlington, Trenton, Moorestown, Mount Holly, Palmyra, and Riverside.

One collector visiting the Society’s Museum for a Day was delighted to see that John had added considerably to what he had available at Victorian Day 2007, and he pulled up a chair and devoted over two hours to browsing the vintage postcard reproductions.

Pat Lynch and Nancy Hall peruse the gifts available for the history enthusiast – Ruff Copy, Historic Riverton, History of Riverton Fire Co., Romance of Riverton, back issues of Gaslight News, History of Palmyra, repro maps and photos.

The Society appreciates Mr. McCormick’s generosity in sharing his collection on the HSR web site and blog for people of all ages to enjoy.

While an adult visitor may recall and perhaps even reminisce with the website’s content, a child seeing those same images and stories may see for the first time how life in his or her hometown was so different a hundred or more years ago.

We commend The Friends of the Riverton Free Library for their successful house tour program which reminds us that our magnificent, historic homes in Riverton can be restored to their past splendor rather than sold as apartment conversions.

The Candlelight House Tour significantly contributes to the rediscovery of Riverton by visitors and homeowners as a special place to live. The following photo gallery of our Road Show Museum will suffice until the HSR can secure a permanent solution to display the wonderful collection to which so many Rivertonians have contributed over the years. 

– Gerald Weaber, President Historical Society of Riverton


Just in – over 30 new vintage images of Riverton

Recently I received an email alert that notified me that I had won an eBay auction for an old Riverton postcard.  And I got two in a row! Quickly, I keyed in the PayPal information and then checked the mail each day to see if my treasures had arrived.

These are two of the rarest kind of postcard images – real photo post cards, or RPPCs for short. They were created by developing a photograph onto postcard-sized photo paper with a postcard backing. RPPCs often demand higher prices than mass-produced postcards because of the limited number of cards produced.

As any collector will attest,  it is a great feeling to acquire that elusive stamp, comic book, coin, baseball card, matchbook, or some such chotskie. Some anthropologists say that we collect to reminisce and remember the past. Certainly, that is a motive here, but we hope that the images and information displayed on this website will serve as testament to what Riverton’s men and women have built here since 1851 on this scant square mile.

Whether you collect sports team memorabilia or antique dolls, you know that feeling when you’ve discovered yet another variation on a familiar theme. Well, if you are here because you are a fan of Riverton, NJ, imagine that elation and multiply it times ten because in recent weeks we have received dozens of great vintage postcard and photo album scans to add to our images pages.

These have come just when I was starting to think I had seen all the Riverton cards there were. There are more views of the Yacht Club, the Porch Club, residential streets, and Dreer’s Nursery, plus some rare RPPCs including the Children’s Parade.  Altogether, it is a remarkable photographic record and we are fortunate that Mr. Mortgu has opened up his album to share in this way.

If you received a reminder postcard for our last HSR meeting, you caught a brief preview of the choice vintage photos which Nick has scanned for display here.

They will also being placed in with the rest of the Riverton images so they will be easy to find when you return. We invite you to leave a comment, factoid, recollection, or question.

Readers, if you have one image to donate or a hundred, know that you will be contributing to a continuing virtual archive which we hope will help tell the story of Riverton’s historic past to current and future generations. – John McCormick


On Saturday, April 30, 2011, friends, family, community members, and colleagues from all points gathered at historic Christ Church in Riverton to celebrate the life of Mrs. Betty B. Hahle, Riverton Town Historian, former HSR President and editor of its newsletter, and relentless champion of historic preservationist battles, who passed away Sunday April 17, 2011.

Possessed of an encyclopedic knowledge of all things concerning Riverton, Betty recently expressed regret that writing her book on Riverton’s history had eluded her. Nevertheless, the body of authoritative historical works that she produced is prodigious. Renowned for her thoroughly researched articles on historical subjects, she authored Riverton’s history for the borough website, wrote the history of the Porch Club, contributed to Riverton School’s Riverton Project, consulted on community planning projects, and produced over 100 of her signature “Yesterday” columns for the Historical Society of Riverton’s newsletter, the Gaslight News.

Her tireless activism in the pursuit of preserving Riverton’s heritage has resulted in a number of victories which will stand as her lasting legacy to the town which she so adored. In 1978, in concert with borough officials, Mrs. Hahle helped save Riverton’s cherished gas streetlamps from oblivion; in 1989, she rescued the fragile vintage film Romance of Riverton by preserving it to videotape; and she was one of the main persons responsible for saving rare late 19th and early 20th century New Era newspaper issues to microfilm. In 2009, the Burlington Board of Chosen Freeholders recognized both Betty Hahle and a colleague for their work in preserving the Romance of Riverton and making it accessible to modern audiences. Perhaps her most gratifying accomplishment was her 20 year-long quest to win for Riverton’s historic district a listing on the coveted state Register of Historic Places.

Betty Bailey married Joseph W. Hahle, and they raised three daughters in Riverton. Mrs. Hahle was active in Riverton’s Parent Teachers Association, the Palmyra High School Band Parents Association and was a Girl Scout leader. In the early l970s, Betty became interested in genealogy and local history, favorite hobbies she pursued with a passion. She was a member of the Porch Club of Riverton, holding various chairs there, and in 1989, the group honored her as their Woman of the Year.

The Betty B. Hahle Excellence in History Award is given to an eighth grade student each year at Riverton Public School. Betty Hahle’s many decades of historic research and writing as Town Historian and her interest in cultivating the interest of young people in the study of history inspired the award.

Mrs. Betty B. Hahle

Always generous with her expertise, just days before she passed, Betty was dictating notes from her hospital bed to encourage one author on the content of a future Gaslight News feature story while supplying an essential fact she recalled from one of her many interviews for the writer of another article. No one can deny her passion for pursuing Riverton’s history or her unwavering commitment to preserving Riverton’s character. Clearly, more than any other single person, Mrs. Betty B. Hahle has made our understanding of Riverton history what it is today. By so faithfully documenting Riverton’s past with her meticulous investigating and record-keeping, Betty has indeed now assured her own place in Riverton’s history alongside the very founders, merchants, industrialists, and social activists she researched, certain to be quoted and cited for years to come. She was 92.

Find the complete Burlington County Times obituary here.



Dreer Nurseries’ Long Role in Riverton’s History Not Forgotten

color plate from 1912 Dreer’s Garden Book

Dear Readers:

I prepared this PowerPoint presentation on a history of Dreer’s Nurseries so that it could be running in the background on the stage of the Porch Club as people came through on their way to or from one of the several stops on the popular bi-annual Garden Tour in June 2010.

From modest beginnings in a storefront on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, Henry A. Dreer, Inc. would grow into a vast organization with an international reputation selling seeds, plants, bulbs, and associated sundries. In the course of expanding the business, Dreer moved to 300 acres in Riverton, NJ in 1873, where the enterprise became a  major employer of the town.

The prestigious house of Dreer closed due to a variety of circumstances in 1944 and the land that it occupied in Riverton was developed into housing lots. A few people still remember Dreer’s Nurseries and its effects upon Riverton and its citizenry.

The PowerPoint is loaded with information and many illustrations. Be sure to download the accompanying PDF file script for the slide show which also prompts you when to click your mouse for the animations and to advance to the next slide.

Click here to download “A History of Dreer’s Nursery, a 39.7MB PowerPoint presentation. The notes for the presenter’s talk are in a separate PDF file.  Click here for the presenter’s notes. – John McCormick, Gaslight News Editor

PS.  Recent uploads to the Images page includes new categories for Atlantic City, NJ (63 images) and Miscellaneous (46 images) for, well… images that I couldn’t otherwise categorize.