Barbara KellyLinks Section
Press Releases & Beverly Bee articles
Riverfront Historical Society February 12 at 11:30pm · Burlington County Times article
History has a new home. At the December open house at the Riverfront Historical Society's new building, visitors were enthusiastic, said society treasurer Theresa Lowden, and took the opportunity to share memories and reminisce while viewing the collection of items from Beverly, Delanco and Edgewater Park.
The society’s members decided to move to a new location, the Beverly Library Annex (also known as Wells' Pharmacy to locals) at 433 Cooper St. for a variety of reasons, including the lack of heating and air conditioning at its previous site, the circa 1806 Coopertown Meeting House off of Route 130. Those were not good conditions in which to store fragile and rare documents, said society president Dennis Rogers. The new location also provides more room in which to house documents and records, sports memorabilia, and other mementos of the area, said Rogers, adding that the space is “better and brighter,” with items grouped thematically.
The society’s collection is gaining recognition because its new location is better known than the meetinghouse, according to Rogers. About 70 people — both regular visitors and newcomers — attended the first open house at the library annex, while previous open houses yielded 15 to 20 attendees.
In years past, the society opened its collection to the public three times a year. At the annex, it plans to welcome visitors from noon to 3 p.m. on the first Saturday of each month. The historical society’s collection lets locals see their towns’ histories, rather than just reading about them, said Lowden. Said Rogers, Some visit the collection to use the materials to research family history.
For those doing genealogy work, there is a central location in the library annex for researchers, Rogers said, where they can browse records on residents’ church and athletic involvement, among other things.
Lowden said some of her favorite items in the collection are the yearbooks. These mementos date to the 1930s, commemorating students’ time at area high schools, including Palmyra and Holy Cross.
Rogers said sharing hours with the library, located right next door, allows access to a resource the society does not have: computers.
Although the historical society building will be open to the public one day a month, individuals and groups can make appointments to visit on other days, according to Rogers. “Why collect things and not have people in to see it?” he said. “The more we’re open, the more they can come see it.” The society expects to begin holding regular open houses next month.
Lowden, a lifelong Beverly resident who joined the society about 17 years ago at Rogers’ urging. Rogers has been a member of the historical society since 1998, and became its president in 2002. At that time, the group had three members; today, it has approximately 25 to 30. The group was founded in 1976.
“It was like a fresh start,” Rogers said. “We kind-of rejuvenated interest in it, I guess.” Rogers, who grew up in Beverly, said the collection brings back memories of his youth in the area, and people he knew during that time. “I connect with everything in there just about …” he said. “For me that place is filled with memories, good memories.”
To contact the Riverfront Historical Society to make a donation of items relating to the past in Beverly, Delanco or Edgewater Park, call Theresa Lowden at 609-387-1079.
By LAURI SHEIBLEY
September 1, 2006 200 years, still standing
EDGEWATER PARK Just off Route 130, tucked behind a car dealership and across the street from a McDonald's restaurant, stands a one-room brick building. Today, it seems out of place along the busy highway, but 200 years ago it was a well-known meeting house used by hundreds for religious services and Sunday school classes. According to historical records, the Coopertown Meeting House was built in 1806. To celebrate the building's 200th anniversary, the Riverfront Historical Society will host an open house Sept. 16. Visitors can stop by from noon to 3 p.m. and walk around the building, admire its decorative wooden pews and raised pulpit, and inspect the society's collection of memorabilia.
Dennis Rogers, president of the historical society, said many people pass the building, located near the intersection of Cooper Street and Route 130, but don't know its story. “This is the place people ride by and wonder what is inside,” he said.
When the meeting house was constructed, it was actually located in Willingboro Township. In the early 1800s, Willingboro encompassed all of present-day Edgewater Park, Beverly, Delanco and Willingboro, Rogers said. According to historical records, a group of citizens decided to build a meeting house in 1802. More than a hundred people donated money and raised $400 for construction. Another $31 was gathered to erect a fence. A board of 12 trustees was appointed, and the board purchased one acre from a man named Charles Fetters. By 1806, the building was completed and the board drafted a constitution allowing the building to be used by any religious group, provided its members believed in Jesus Christ. Through the years, many religious groups used it and the surrounding cemetery. In its early days, the meeting house was lit by a chandelier and heated by a coal stove.
In the mid-1820s, the Episcopal Church of Beverly took possession of the meeting house and used it exclusively. After the Episcopalians left to construct a new building of their own, the Methodists took over. The trustees wrested power back in 1835, and decreed that the building would remain free and not owned by any specific church. Starting in 1880, the meeting house was used for Sunday school classes, and later by the Society of Friends.
By 1940, the religious groups no longer needed the meeting house, and it sat vacant for more than 30 years before the Riverfront Historical Society came to the rescue. By that time, the building was in need of major repairs. Its roof was sagging, bricks were damaged, and the plaster inside was discolored. Vandals had broken windows and burned a portion of the hardwood floor.
The historical society launched a fund-raising campaign, and in the early 1980s restored the structure. The building is still owned by the board of trustees, now called the Coopertown Cemetery Association. The historical society holds its monthly meetings there, and has filled the place with old documents, photographs, clothing, books and bottles. Mr. Rogers said it is important to preserve the meeting house because it is “a symbol of religious freedom they had in America.” For Carol Donahue, another society member, the structure is a unique piece of architecture. “Let's face it,” she said. “You don't make buildings like this anymore. It's just an old classic building.”
March Beverly Bee article
Doc Winkelspecht and his wife Elzabeth "Cyse"
Now Beverly old timers know all about Doc Winkelspecht but many new parishioners and residents haven’t any idea who the man was. Doc was a life time resident of Delanco and practiced dentistry in Beverly for over 50 years at his 5 Points offices. Doc started out in an office above Cameron’s drug store before he had the brick office building built across the street.
He was a 1928 graduate of Temple University Dentistry School and was an old school dentist. Some may have considered him rough and he didn’t tolerate any carrying on when you were in his chair. He was a very good dentist and his reputation for excellent work was well known. Back in those days it cost $5 to have a tooth pulled out. Jim Hall remembers traveling to Beverly from Palmyra to visit Doc’s office for dental work. Doc and Jim’s father were good friends. At times, he worked together with his good friend Dr. Parry Scott on patients. In the June 2, 1930 Time magazine there was a story about both doctors and their patient James J. Carr, 52 who was teething for a third time. Both doctors documented that this very unusual incident in dental and medical history was happening.
Doc was not all business and had many interests he applied himself to. Doc had a good sense for investing and earned a substantial amount of money in his lifetime. He was the founder and owner of “Grinding Balls’ in Cinnaminson that made special alloy balls to grind elements into powder. He played an active role in the research and operation of the plant. One of Doc’s hobbies was hunting all kinds of wild game around the country and Canada. He went big game hunting with his friend Charlie Moses and had some of his trophies mounted and on display in the game room of his house. Ralph Ulissi says he used to deer hunt with Doc on farmland in Pennsylvania. Ralph told me, Doc helped the South Park Hunting Club purchase land in the Chatsworth, New Jersey pinelands. The club still has many members and “Doc” to thank for his initial help.
Doc had a well respected collection of big game guns and rifles on display at his home. While Doc hunted and brought home his trophies, his wife Cyse would dutifully prepare and cook the meat. But her sister June Geiss said, she would never eat anything that Doc had killed. Doc kept a number of bird dogs to assist him in his local hunting expeditions. Doc had a poker playing group that met every two weeks at different homes. Cyse would prepare a nice meal to eat around 12 midnight for the guys. Elizabeth “Cyse”Hires was born and raised in Palmyra, New Jersey. They were a delightful couple for 62 years until Doc’s passing. They were married on May 25, 1925 according to her sister June and made a lifetime of good memories traveling around the country. They made a great couple and had many friends young and old. It was said their home had a swinging door because of so many friends coming and going.
June told me that Doc always enjoyed telling a funny story or joke that he head heard from someone. He made an effort to carefully set up the joke and punch line for the enjoyment of his listeners. Doc had a reputation of talking to his patients while he worked on them. Doc and Cyse had heart ache and pain in their lives too. Their only daughter drowned at the young age of 2 and they had no more children after her passing. Alberta Carr Brunner and family lived two doors away from Doc and Cyse. She remembers them fondly, as kind and generous neighbors. Alberta said that she and her sisters thought of the Winkelspechts as another set of parents. They played in their home many times, including the “game room.”. Her mom and Cyse were best friends and grocery shopped together. During WWII, Doc and Cyse gave their meat stamps to the Carrs and their large family.
Doc started the camera club in Delanco and they would meet in Doc’s basement where they planned and worked on their special projects. Bob Rossi said that in one basement room Doc had an antique dentist chair and dental office display. Doc was a charter member of the Beverly Rotary Club in 1945 and president in 1951-52. He was instrumental in getting new members to join and was a Paul Harris Fellow. Doc helped initiate many charitable programs with the Beverly Rotary Club and took their dedication to service very seriously with 47 years of service.
Another of Doc’s special interest included being the director and chairman of the Beverly Bank for 35 years. Doc and the board helped build the bank to be a substantial bank in the area. Bob Notigan said Doc considered his work at the bank as another hobby he loved to work on. Bob knew Doc for over 45 years working at the bank as a young man. Doc was a good friend and advisor to him through the years. Doc served on the board as chairman of the Zurbrugg Hospital and worked very hard to keep the hospital in service in Riverside. Doc donated his 5 Points building to the Zurbrugg Corp in hopes of keeping the hospital afloat, according to Bob Rossi.
Doc served on many boards including being past president of the NJ Board of Dental Examiners and the Southern Dental Society. His resume included being a Fellow of the American College of Dentists and he was active at his alma mater Temple University.
Through all these good works, Doc’s faith in his church remained strong. He attended Mass regularly and George Mickle told me he always sat in the front row, all the way to the left side. George said he was a quiet unassuming man that you would never suspect of being so wealthy and influential. Doc made a sizable donation to St. Joseph’s to insure that the church can continue being a viable part of the community for many years. Cyse in later years would also make a donation to St. Joseph’s and continue Doc’s work to one of his favorite things. I have to point out that Cyse wasn’t of the Catholic faith and attended church in Palmyra. The Beverly Rotary Club established the Beverly Rotary Club /Dr. Harold J. Winkelspecht Memorial Scholarship that is an award for academic achievement for local students. The scholarship is designed to help a student pursue an education and career in Nursing or the Sciences in conjunction with Burlington County College. Doc and Cyse made an positive impression on almost everyone they met through their years. Doc’s nephew, Robert J. Finney sent a letter to his aunt Cyse, on her 90th birthday stating, “I’ll never forget Uncle Harold. He was one of the most ethical and principled men I have ever known.” He mentioned after moving to Hanover , NJ, his new dentist took one look in his mouth and complimented Doc’s work and couldn’t find one loose filling. he then added, …”you are one of the most classy and vivacious women we have ever known.” Cyse’s sister June Geiss paid them a wonderful yet simple compliment. “To know them was to love them.” That is quite a legacy for most of us to strive for in our own lives.
On March 20, 2010, Doc and Cyse were honored by St. Joseph's Church with a name plaque and special blessings at the "Pieta" statue by Father Ed Blanchett before 5 PM Mass
By Dennis Rogers
Many thanks to all who assisted me with their memories. June Geiss, Bob Notigan, Bob Rossi, Alberta Carr Brunner, Ralph Ulissi, Jim Hall and George Mickle. <
Mission Statement |
Coopertown Meeting House |
2011 Holiday House tour article |
Scheduled Meetings |
Press Releases & Beverly Bee articles | Beverly's Nelson Fish | HOME | WRITE US