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Cheltenham Township Historical Commission

October 2021

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Commission News

Thank you to all of those who came out for our Grand Re-Opening! It was a wonderful day and we had quite the crowd.

Our special guests included a descendant of one of Cheltenham's first residents, Tobias Leech. She flew in from Oregon for the event!

Additionally, the extended family of Harold Pike, the township manager who lived in the Wall House, toured the museum. Reportedly, the rooms in the house still smell the same as they did 50 years ago when they would come for Sunday dinner. Hopefully this is not indicative of how often the house has been cleaned since then.

A Moment in History

Public Ledger, 16 October 1847.


MILL AND FARM AT PRIVATE SALE – The Subscriber offers for sale a valuable Merchant MILL and FARM, situate in CHELTENHAM TOWNSHIP, Montgomery, Co., nine miles north of Philadelphia, and in the immediate vicinity of the Cheltenham and Willow Grove Turnpike.

The improvements are a large Stone MILL HOUSE containing all the necessary machinery for manufacturing flour. A large substantial Stone House, Stone Barn, Wagon House, Spring House, &c. The Farm contains 37 acres of Land, a portion of which is Woodland and Meadow, the remainder arable, in a high state of cultivation. There is an orchard of selected fruit in the prime of bearing, together with a variety of peach, plum, cherry and other fruit trees. 


From the Public Ledger, (Philadelphia), 16 October 1847, page 4. The property was the remnant of the northern part of the tract of first purchaser John Russell. His daughter, Elizabeth, married Joseph Mather in the Wall House and the property passed to John’s grandson, Richard Mather. The property was later purchased by John Wanamaker who turned the abandoned mill into a power plant for electricity for his mansion, Lindenhurst.

Upcoming Historical Commission Meeting

The next meeting of the Cheltenham Township Historical Commission will be October 14th at 7:30 PM via Zoom. Here is the agenda.

Join Zoom Meeting
  • Meeting ID: 795 4141 4263
  • Passcode: W6jsZ5

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 $20 each. Please contact Patricia Miller,, 215-436-7449 to order copies. Proceeds are shared with Patricia and the Historical Commission.


Camp William Penn Museum

Camp William Penn Museum is open by reservation through the end of October. Learn about the training camp, for colored soldiers (USCT) and their Civil War participation, that was located in our community.
Make your reservation now.

1618 Willow Avenue,
La Mott, PA 19027
215 885-2258,

Camp William Penn Barn Sale: Fund Raiser, Oct. 9

A barn sale to raise funds for the Camp William Penn Museum will take place on Oct. 9 from 9 – 1. High quality Halloween and Christmas decorations, handbags, household items, electronics, books, restoration items and more.

Location: 7322 Sycamore Ave. (rear), La Mott, 19027
Sponsored by Citizens for the Restoration of Historical La Mott to benefit Camp William Penn Museum.
215 885-2258,

Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Museum and Library


'The Life of Octavius V. Catto'

October 3, 2021
presented by Andy Waskie

Observing the 150th Anniversary of the Assassination of Octavius V. Catto, a Philadelphia equal rights activist; Scholar; Educator; Emancipator; Military Hero
October 10, 1871 was the date of the tragic loss of one of the greatest of the Emancipation activists and Philadelphia civil rights proponent, and military Hero. Octavius Valentine Catto was born in 1839, and a statue of him is positioned prominently on the south side of City Hall. Many who admire him and study his life believe he remains a hero who is hidden in history. Some do see the parallels between the lives of Frederick Douglass who was a friend and supporter of Catto. The streetcar boycott is reenacted in the documentary series Philadelphia: The Great Experiment. Catto led an effort to desegregate streetcars. The documentary series also details how Catto fought for voting rights for African Americans was killed protecting Black voters on Election Day of 1871. He was struck down on Election Day 1871 a few steps from his South Street home, shot by a man who believed Blacks voting was a threat to the power of the Democrat rulers of the time. The Philadelphia Catto Monument is a powerful symbol - the Catto statue at the center of protest for social change 150 years after his assassination. It is hope the legacy of Octavius Catto will live on. This program will detail the life and heroic career of Octavis V. Catto via power point and highlights of his life.

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

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. 

Requests to reserve a virtual seat that are sent the day of the Program may not arrive in time.  We will make every effort to reply, but Gmail may be slow and our volunteer may be called away.  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. 

First Sunday Zoom Programs

Join us the first Sunday of each month. Programs begin at 1:00 PM. These are FREE virtual programs online - Please RSVP to
  • November 7, 2021 – Mike Jesberger1913 Blue & Gray Reunion in Gettysburg
  • December 5, 2021Christmas at the Front (to be confirmed)

Requests to reserve a virtual seat that are sent the day of the Program may not arrive in time. We will make every effort to reply, but Gmail may be slow, and our volunteer may be called away. 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. Details and Updates on Upcoming Programs will be available on the Museum website:

Gratz College


Almost Forgotten: The Heroic History of Jews in the American Military

  • Who: Herb Kaufman
  • When: October 14, 7:30 PM ET
  • Where: Zoom
  • Cost: $10
  • Register

Little has been written about the gallantry and heroism of Jewish soldiers in the American military. From the beginning of our country with the Revolutionary War, through the Civil War, Korea, Vietnam, and both World Wars, Jewish men have served with honor, courage and loyalty. Numerous Jewish soldiers have been awarded the Medal of Honor and a significant group of Jewish survivors formed one of the most effective and top-secret military organizations of World War II. It is critical to our American story that the contributions of Jewish soldiers never be forgotten and remain in the forefront of the history of our country. 

Register Here

More information: Mindy Cohen at or 215-635-7300 x155

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Celebrating William Still at 200

Grand Army of the Republic Post #1 - Meade Post

William Still was born on October 7, 1821 in Burlington County, NJ. A free-born African American, Still dedicated his life to abolition and the struggle for civil rights. Among his many endeavors, he was the Chairman for the Vigilance Committee of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, and a conductor on the Underground Railroad where he helped more than 1,000 enslaved persons to freedom.

Join HSP and the African American Museum in Philadelphia as we commemorate Still’s remarkable life. These events are free, but registration is required.


Northeast Philadelphia History Network


GAR Civil War Museum

Grand Army of the Republic Post #1 - Meade Post
Wednesday, October 6, 7:00 p.m.

Civil War historian  and retired Temple professor Dr Andy Waskie will discuss the history of the Grand Army of the Republic and the GAR Civil War Museum, Philadelphia's only museum dedicated to the history of the Civil War.  The Gar Museum is moving  from the historic John Ruan House in Frankford where it has been located for the past 63 years.  Its new location will be the historic Lewis-Pattison House in Holmesburg, on Frankford Avenue just northeast of Welsh Road.  Dr Waskie is  vice-president of the GAR Civil War Museum and president of the General Meade Society.  He was also a co-founder of the “Civil War & Emancipation Studies” at Temple University.

For information on the GAR Museum and how you can help with the move, please see

The October NEPHN Zoom Meeting Invitation with login information will be sent later and posted on Facebook.

Dr Andy Waskie, Civil War Historian

Preservation Alliance


Fall Speaker Series

By popular demand, we’re hosting another speaker series virtually this fall. Enjoy these lectures from the comfort and safety of your home. Series and individual passes are available!


  • October 5, 6pm - 7:30pm: Julian Abele, Architect and the Beaux Arts - presented by Dreck Wilson, ASLA, NOMA
  • October 12, 6pm - 7:30pm: Willis G. Hale and the Art of the Architectural Aberration - presented by Michael Lewis
  • October 19, 6pm - 7:30pm: The Architecture of Science: William Wagner, John McArthur and the Wagner Free Institute of Science - presented by Susan Glassman
  • October 26, 6pm - 7:30pm: 7th Ward Tribute - presented by Tayyib Smith and the Little Giant Creative Team
  • November 2, 6pm - 7:30pm: Bethel Burying Ground Memorial - presented by Karyn Olivier
  • November 9, 6pm - 7:30pm: “Real Evidence of Progress”: Toward a Preservation History of Christian Street, 1910-1945 - presented by Kevin Block PhD and Adrian Trevisan MSHP
  • November 16, 6pm - 7:30pm: Sesqui: The World’s Fair that Flopped- presented by Thomas H. Keels

The Wall Paper

A Publication of the Cheltenham Township Historical Commission

The spring 2021 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:
  • Chairman's Chatter
  • 50th Anniversary Grand Re-Opening Open House 
  • Upcoming Events
  • Questions from Residents

The Richard Wall House

The Richard Wall House is open on the fourth Sunday of every month and upon request. To arrange for a tour, either private or for a group, either call the Township at 215-887-1000, ext. 227 during business hours, or send an email to

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. The suggested donation levels are:
  • Benefactor: $100
  • Sponsor: $50
  • Patron: $20

Jack Washington Memorial Fund

In honor of the late Jack Washington, longtime Historical Commission member and chair, the Historical Commission created the Jack Washington Gallery in the Richard Wall House. This gallery serves as a starting point for the local history of Cheltenham Township. We are accepting donations to help pay for the new exhibits.

Send Donations

Mail a piece of paper with your name, address, email address, and "Friend of the Wall House" or "Jack Washington Fund" written on it, along with your check made payable to "Cheltenham Township Historical Commission" to:
Cheltenham Township Historical Commission
c/o Cheltenham Township
8230 Old York Road
Elkins Park, PA 19027-1589
Copyright © 2021 Cheltenham Township Historical Commission, All rights reserved.

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