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Cheltenham Township Historical Commission

December 2020

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Commission News

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shut down Wall House tours, the Historical Commission is hosting its monthly meetings remotely, via Zoom. Be sure to check out the Fall edition of the Wall Paper below! Other local history groups have a large number of events scheduled, and a local historian has DVDs available about the Dominican Retreat House, which was located in the Elkins Estate.

A Moment in History

The Evening Public Ledger

December 28, 1920


As a result of numerous hold-ups at Fort Washington during the past ten days, the citizens of that borough have subscribed more than $2000 with which to pay the salaries of policemen and motorcycle officers newly hired. 

Two of the largest townships north of Philadelphia are ahead of this city in the motorizing of their police force. In both Cheltenham township and Abington township, where the homes of many wealthy Philadelphians are located, the efficiency of motorized police service has been demonstrated many times recently.

DVDs for Sale

Longtime friend of the Historical Commission, Patricia Miller, is selling a DVD about the Elkins Estate: "A Story of the Dominican Retreat Property and Tyler School of Art in Cheltenham Township." Copies are $30 each. Please contact Patricia Miller,, 215-635-2444 to order copies. Proceeds are shared with Patricia and the Historical Commission.

Commission Events

Upcoming Historical Commission Meeting

The next meeting of the Cheltenham Township Historical Commission will be December 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

Previous Historical Commission Meeting

The October meeting was on November 12th at 7:30 PM via Zoom. Here are the minutes.


The General Meade Society of Philadelphia

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


The Civil War Diary of Rev. James Sheeran, C.Ss.R., Chaplain, Confederate, Redemptorist 

by Patrick J. Hayes, Ph.D. Historian, author, researcher

Sunday, December 6 at 1:00 pm

This exciting Civil War diary of a Redemptorist priest, Rev. James Sheeran, C.Ss.R., who was chaplain to the 14th Louisiana Regiment of the Confederacy, is a national treasure. Irish-born Sheeran (1817-1881) was one of only a few dozen Catholic chaplains commissioned for the Confederacy and one of only two who kept a journal. Highlighting his exploits from August 1, 1862 through April 24, 1865, the journal tells of all the major events of his life in abundant detail: on the battlefield, in the hospitals, and among Catholics and Protestants whom he encountered in local towns, on the trains, and in the course of his ministrations. The tone is forthright, even haughty, but captures in sure and steady fashion, both the personality of the man and the events to which he was a witness, especially the major battles. The diary is arguably the most unique narrative of the war written by a chaplain of any denomination and certainly is the most extensive.

Please send a request to reserve a virtual seat for this outstanding presentation by replying to this email 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

Sandy Run and the Holmesburg Water Works

  • When: 7pm, Wednesday,  December 2, 2020 
  • Speaker:  Adam Levine, Historian - Philadelphia Water Department

In operation from 1888 to about 1921, the Holmesburg Water Works was located on Sandy Run (at Ryan Ave) near its confluence with Pennypack Creek.  Philadelphia Water Department historian Adam Levine will discuss the Holmesburg Water Works and, more importantly, the effective demise of Sandy Run.  Once a vital stream for 18th and 19th century settlers to the area around current Rhawn St and Verree Rd down to Roosevelt Blvd and Lexington Ave, the winding creek was forced underground by development in the mid-20th century.  Today, less than a mile remains and much of that is severely distressed.  The story of Sandy Run is a reminder of how fortunate Northeast Philadelphia is to have preserved so much of its historic creeks and tributaries and the nature and wildlife that go with them.

Join Zoom Meeting

  • Meeting ID: 883 7095 0899
  • Passcode: 505603

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.

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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