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Cheltenham Township Historical Commission

October 2020

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Commission News

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shut down Wall House tours, the Historical Commission will resume its monthly meetings remotely, via Zoom. Be sure to check out the Fall edition of the Wall Paper below!

Additionally, some of our partner groups have shifted to Zoom presentations.

Commission Events

October Historical Commission Meeting

The next meeting of the Cheltenham Township Historical Commission will be October 10th at 7:30 PM via Zoom. Here is the agenda.
Join via the free Zoom app. If the link does not work use the ID and password.

Past Events

September Historical Commission Meeting

The September meeting was on September 10th at 7:30 PM via Zoom. Here are the minutes.


The General Meade Society of Philadelphia

US Marine Corp Birthday Observance

Tuesday, November 10 at 11am

At the grave of General Jacob Zeilin, 7th Commandant of the Marine Corps. Call 215.228.8200 for details.

Remembrance Day in Gettysburg

Saturday, November 21 at 10:30 am

THE CUSTOMARY EVENT AT GETTYSBURG HAS BEEN CANCELLED. However, Andy Waskie intends to have a lesser memorial at the General Meade Equestrian Monument. Email him for further details. Dr. Andy Waskie at:

Annual General Meade Birthday Celebration

Thursday, December 31 at Noon

Will mark the annual anniversary of the birth of General George G. Meade, heroic commander of the victorious Union army at the Battle of Gettysburg. Arrive at 11:30am. The General Meade Society of Philadelphia will celebrate his birthday at Historic Laurel Hill Cemetery, 3822 Ridge Ave. This will mark the 205th anniversary of the birth of General George Gordon Meade (1815-1872); it was also the 30th anniversary of the ceremony and the 24th anniversary of the founding of the General Meade Society of Philadelphia. A champagne toast and reception will follow the program. For directions, call Laurel Hill Cemetery: 215-228-8200.

General Meade Society Champagne Brunch & Awards Ceremony

Sunday, January 17, 2021 (Backup date: Jan. 24, 2021)

Join the Gen. Meade Society of Philadelphia for its annual DeLuxe Champagne Brunch & Awards Ceremony, presenting the Society ‘Award of Merit’. Cannstatter Volksfest Verein, 9130 Academy Road, Philadelphia, PA 19114. To reserve: 215-848-7753 or

Annual Lincoln Birthday Celebration Parade and Ceremonies

Friday, February 12, 2021

Sponsored by the Union League of Philadelphia. Civil War military units, civilians, and heritage groups are welcome and encouraged to march in the parade through Philadelphia to Independence Hall to honor President Lincoln on his birthday. Participants will gather at the Union League, 140 S. Broad St. by 10am.

Complimentary parking is available at Laz Garage on the N.W. corner of 15th & Sansom St. only. There are no reimbursements for those who park elsewhere. Arrive between 9:00am – 10:00am and obtain a parking pass from a guard at the Sansom St. Entrance, opposite the Union League garage. Proceed to Laz garage at 114 S 15th St to park. Return to the Union League. Color Guards, Firing Party, music, and wreaths are appreciated. There will be a complimentary lunch for the participants at 12 noon. After the parade ALL are invited to return to the Union League via coach for refreshments and entertainment in the historic League House. To register: Contact: Dr. Andy Waskie. 215-423-3930 or

Annual Major Octavius V. Catto Honor Ceremony

Saturday, February 20, 2021 at 11am

Honor ceremony; wreath laying; military salute at the Catto Monument at the South Front of City Hall at 11:00am. Honoring the great African-American equal rights and military leader. Wreath-Laying ceremony. All military units, period civilians, veterans and heritage groups are encouraged to participate. Colors, wreaths and music encouraged.

Following the City Hall Ceremony: PA National Guard Award Luncheon & Medal Ceremony to follow at 12:30 pm in the Union League for the ‘Major Catto Medal’ Award Ceremony Luncheon

Contact: Mary O’Brien at the Union League to reserve lunch:
Information: Dr. Andy Waskie at:

The Major Octavius V. Catto Honor Ceremony will begin at 11am, with lunch to follow. We will meet at the new OV Catto Monument at the S.W. corner of City Hall at 11:00am for the wreath laying and honor volleys and taps. Honoring the great black equal rights and military leader with a wreath-laying ceremony. All military units, period civilians, veterans and heritage groups are encouraged to participate. Colors, wreaths and music encouraged. Then come back to the Union League for a delicious lunch starting at 12:30pm. There will be a signature/cash bar available. Price: $35 inclusive.

21st Annual Meade Society Symposium: Bala Cynwyd, PA

12 noon, Sunday, April 11, 2021

Annual Meade Society History Symposium at the Conservatory at West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA Speakers on the topic – The War with Mexico; Training Ground of the Civil War
Featuring noted historians and speakers, and authors on the life and career of the Victor of Gettysburg, as well as books, prints and raffles. 12 noon – 5pm Conservatory at West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA. Please register to attend - Cost: $40 per person including registration; luncheon & refresh-ments. Contact: Jerry McCormick: 215-848-7753 Email:

The Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Museum

Commodore Percival Drayton, Union Hero of the Civil War and Philadelphia

  • When: 1pm, Sunday, October 4, 2020 

  • Speaker: Captain Jack Lieberman (USN, retired)

Percival Drayton was the son of a wealthy South Carolina Congressman William Drayton. He entered the United States Navy as a midshipman in 1827, and served continuously up to the Civil War, being posted to stations that included the Mediterranean, the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Brazil, Paraguay and at the Naval Observatory, Washington, DC.   His older brother, Thomas Fenwick Drayton, was a West Point Graduate and a United States Army officer who remained loyal to the South and became a Confederate Brigadier General.  When the Civil War began Percival was stationed at the Philadelphia Naval Yard, but was soon given command of the warship "USS Pocahontas."  He commanded the vessel in the successful Union Naval assault on Port Royal, South Carolina in November 1861.  In that action, he fired upon troops and positions commanded by his brother Thomas who was commanding Confederate troops on shore in a literal, classic instance of the   "BROTHER AGAINST BROTHER" phrase often used to describe the American Civil War.
He was promoted to Captain, US Navy in July 1862, and was assigned to Admiral David Farragut's West Gulf Squadron and commanded Farragut's flagship USS Hartford in the celebrated Naval assault and capture of Mobile Bay, Alabama in August 1864. The bay was heavily mined (tethered  mines at that time were called TORPEDOES).   Farragut ordered his fleet to charge the bay. When one of the Union Monitors struck a mine and sank, the other Union ships began to retreat.  Farragut could see the ships pulling back from his high perch, where he was lashed to the rigging of his flagship.   "What's the trouble?" he shouted through his megaphone to the forward lookout.  "Torpedoes!" was shouted back.   "DAMN THE TORPEDOES" said Farragut, "FOUR BELLS - CAPTAIN DRAYTON, FULL SPEED AHEAD"   The bulk of the fleet then succeeded in entering the bay. Captain Drayton died August 4, 1865 and was buried in St John’s Church in Washington, DC, however his remains were exhumed three months later and he was re-buried at Laurel Hill Cemetery, in Philadelphia, on November 18, 1865, next to his father, William Drayton. 
Please send a request to reserve a virtual seat for this outstanding presentation by contacting this e-mail at
You will be sent a link with a password that will enable you to access the program within 24 hours of the start of the presentation.
As a lover of history, you know how critical it is to keep history alive, especially today!  We very much appreciate your continued support for the GAR Civil War Museum.

Northeast Philadelphia History Network

Poquessing Creek Bridges Part 2

  • When: 7pm, Wednesday,  October 7, 2020 

  • Speaker:  Patty McCarthy

Patty McCarthy will conclude her presentation from earlier in the year.

Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 825 7987 7656
Passcode: 255697
Poquessing Creek Bridges Part 1 can be viewed on YouTube at

Old York Road Historical Society

Due to the public gathering restrictions in place for the COVID-19 pandemic, the Society will be hosting lectures virtually via Zoom. Lectures will be held live and will not be recorded for later playback due to copyright restrictions on the images used in the presentations. A link will be posted on our website and Facebook page a day prior to the presentation If you are not on our email reminder list and would like to be, please send your email address to

The Program Committee has arranged for the following presentations to be held on Wednesday evenings at 7:30 p.m. The lecture series is sponsored by a grant from the Jenkinstown Lyceum and all programs are offered on Zoom free of charge.

From Lyndon to Curtis Arboretum: A Panorama of Surpassing Beauty

  • When: October 14

For 170 years after William Penn's land grant to William Frampton, the rolling fields of today's Curtis Arboretum were Quaker farmlands. Prominent Philadelphia banker Abraham Barker purchased the Cadwalader farm for his estate in 1854 and named it "Lyndon." Following his bankruptcy in 1890, the estate was purchased by publisher Cyrus Curtis, who constructed his own mansion on the property. Local historian and author Tom Wieckowski will trace the history of Curtis Arboretum and its prominent owners as the property progressed from the agrarian age, through the Gilded Ages, and into the 21st century.

A Postcard Tour through Eastern Montgomery County

  • When: November 11

Society President David Rowland will give a postcard tour along the three major byways in Eastern Montgomery County, namely Old York Road, Huntingdon Pike, and Easton Road. The postcards illustrated will highlight many of the sites in the area as they were at the turn of the last century. From mansions to mills, clubs to churches, schools to stores and hotels to hospitals, this overview tour of the area will be an enjoyable and edifying flight into the past.

Fall Outings


Saint Paul's Episcopal Church Cemetery

  • When: Sunday, November 1, 2:00 p.m.

The Society will conduct a tour of the cemetery of one of the oldest and most prominent Episcopal churches in the area, Saint Paul's Episcopal Church in Elkins Park. St. Paul's was organized in 1860 largely through the effort of the great Civil War financier Jay Cooke and a building was completed the following year.

The cemetery was established in 1878 and contains the graves of many persons who feature prominently in the history of the region. We will gather along Ashbourne Road and then tour the cemetery. In order for everyone to be safe, we will ask that you abide by prevailing guidance on face-masks and social distancing. Seasonal light refreshments will be provided at the conclusion. Please respond by Wednesday, October 28th.

Bryn Athyn Train Wreck Walk

  • When: Sunday, December 5, 1:30 p.m.

Join the Society as it partners with the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust for this annual program observing the anniversary of the Bryn Athyn Train Wreck, which occurred on December 5, 1921. This head-on collision of two trains along the Newtown railway line resulted in the deaths of 26 persons.

Society president David Rowland will lead a walking tour to the site from the Trust's Visitor's Center. Please contact Pennypack Trust at 215-657-0830 to register. Society and Trust members are free, all others are $5. The Visitor's Center is located at 2955 Edge Hill Road, across from the June Fete Fair Grounds in Huntingdon Valley.

The Wall Paper

A Publication of the Cheltenham Township Historical Commission

The fall 2020 publication of The Wall Paper is now available - click here. Back issues of The Wall Paper are available on the Cheltenham Township website. The edition features:
  • The Cheltenham Township Historical Commission Marks Fifty Years of Service
  • Chairman's Chatter
  • On the Cutting Edge of Technology in Cheltenham Schools - 100 Years Ago
  • Upcoming Events
  • The Historical Commission Mourns the Death of our Chairman and Long-time Member

The Richard Wall House

The Richard Wall House is normally open on the fourth Sunday of every month and upon request, when not closed due to the COVID-19 crisis. To arrange for a tour after the COVID-19 crisis is over, either private or for a group, either call the Township at 215-887-1000, ext. 227 during business hours, or call the house directly at 215-887-9159 and leave a message.

Learn more about the Wall House on the Cheltenham Township website.

Friends of the Wall House

Be a Friend of the Wall House and help preserve the rich history of Cheltenham Township.
Benefactor: $100 * Sponsor: $50 * Patron: $20

Make checks payable to Cheltenham Township Historical Commission. Mail your check, name, address, and email to:
Friends of the Wall House
c/o Cheltenham Township
8230 Old York Road
Elkins Park, PA 19027-1589
Copyright © 2020 Cheltenham Township Historical Commission, All rights reserved.

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