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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

032_1947 Feb - J.F. Yearly photo

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

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

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

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

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