“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Riverton in Burlington County, New Jersey — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Wharton-Fitler House

Wharton-Fitler House Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), April 2, 2022
1. Wharton-Fitler House Marker
At the crossroads of illustrious Philadelphia families
Ancestors and family connections to this house included a friend of William Penn, the first governor of Pennsylvania, two Mayors of Philadelphia, a member of the Continental Congress, the founder of the Wharton School, and author Edith Wharton.

Wodman Wharton
Wealth, energy … and a life cut short
Raised with many advantages, Rodman used his restless curiosity to build businesses, manage his father's huge but neglected real estate holdings, and promote social causes.

This youngest of the Quaker founders of Riverton was the joint purchaser of one of the farms and managed some of the construction in the busy year of 1851.

While Riverton was generally a summer village, Rodman and Susanna soon moved here year round, staying until Rodman's sudden death in 1854.

His main business was the manufacture and sale of white lead, used in paint and, surprisingly due to its toxicity, cosmetics.

Rodman built a factory in Port Richmond, near today's Aramingo Ave., and ran the business from an office
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by the docks on Front St. near Walnut, in a nearly century-old mansion. His great-grandfather had built it, at a time when this was a fashionable place to live.

Rodman mentored his younger brother Joseph, taking him into the firm. Joseph went on to great success as an industrialist and founded the Wharton School at Penn in 1881.

Rodman also applied his boundless energy to eliminating the death penalty, abolishing slavery, educating the poor, and reducing the miseries of prisoners and the insane.

This remarkable life ended abruptly. Rodman died in this house in the summer of 1854, a victim of the cholera epidemic that swept Philadelphia that year. The first founder to die, he was 34 years old.

Susanna Dillwyn Parrish Wharton
A long life of extraorinary service
Rodman's sudden death left his young wife with a toddler daughter and son, just two months old.

Susanna, however, was formidable. She never remarried and devoted her long life to many of the same causes, with a strong family backing her up. Two brothers were also founders of Riverton, Dillwyn (in the house to your left) and William (at the corner of Penn St.)

She added more causes: Native Americans, alcoholism as a medical issue, immigrants, and founding of the Children's Aid Society.

Creating the NAACP
The Wharton-Fitler House image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), April 2, 2022
2. The Wharton-Fitler House
1909, at age 81, Susanna joined other leaders in a national call against growing attacks on African-American communities by white mobs. They chose to call themselves the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The NAACP is still influential today.

Nannie Myers Fitler and Edwin H. Fitler Jr.
A quiet summer retreat out of the public eye
Nannie and Edwin bought this for a summer house in 1882 and hired architects Hazlehurst & Huckel to enlarge it and make it more fashionable.

But were quiet people, overshadowed by fathers who were larger than life characters. Edwin Jr.'s father built a notable cordage business and was such a popular reform Mayor of Philadelphia that the City named a street, a square and a school for him. No photo of Edwin Jr. is known to exist.

Our leafy village gave their five children magical summers away from the cares of the city. These memories were so rich that when they grew up, three of them purchased their own riverbank homes and lived here year-round.

Chronic poor health ended Edwin Jr.'s life in 1901 at his home in Philadelphia, just 47 years old.

Nannie also grew ill and chose to stay on here at their summer house in the fall of 1905. She died here that winter, also at 47.
Erected 2019 by Historical Society
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of Riverton.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Abolition & Underground RRCharity & Public WorkChurches & ReligionCivil RightsEducationIndustry & CommerceLaw EnforcementNative AmericansScience & MedicineSettlements & SettlersWomen. In addition, it is included in the Quakerism series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1851.
Location. 40° 0.854′ N, 75° 1.055′ W. Marker is in Riverton, New Jersey, in Burlington County. Marker is on Bank Avenue just west of Main Street, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 407 Bank Ave, Riverton NJ 08077, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Riverton Yacht Club (within shouting distance of this marker); Caleb Clothier House (within shouting distance of this marker); Riverton Steamboat Landing (within shouting distance of this marker); Parrish-James House "Red Gables" (within shouting distance of this marker); Robert and Anna Miller Biddle (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); F. Crosta Home & Store (approx. 0.2 miles away); Riverton's First Drugstore (approx. 0.2 miles away); Riverton Free Library (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Riverton.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 4, 2022. It was originally submitted on April 4, 2022, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 103 times since then and 33 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on April 4, 2022, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Jun. 2, 2023