Francis Hull Rittenhouse came into the world on June 29, 1923, in the vibrant city of Camden, New Jersey. He was the cherished child of John F. and Madeline “Nell” Rittenhouse. In his family circle, he had an elder brother named John and the companionship of two older step-brothers, Robert and William Rowan. The Rittenhouse family called 941 Point Street in North Camden home, a place where his father, John F. Rittenhouse, embarked on a journey as a store owner and operator. This establishment catered to the local community, offering an array of provisions including groceries, cigars, candy, and the beloved ice cream. This familial endeavor, steered with dedication by his wife, Madeline, thrived until John F. Rittenhouse’s passing in February of 1933.
Madeline, resolute in preserving the family’s legacy, continued the operation of the store through the years, a testament to her unwavering commitment. The transition to a new generation occurred in 1959 when her stepson, William “Woo-Woo” Rowan, assumed control upon her retirement. This local establishment, affectionately known as “Woo-Woo’s” in later years, remained an enduring fixture in the neighborhood, offering an evolving selection of goods and retaining its reputation for ice cream. Its doors remained open to the community well into the 1970s.
Both John and Francis Rittenhouse followed career paths that led them to the nearby Mathis Shipyard, reflecting the family’s industrious spirit. Similarly, stepbrother William Rowan also found his place at Mathis Shipyard. Stepson Robert Rowan contributed to Camden’s vibrant leather trade, likely employed at the nearby John R. Evans & Co. leather factory. Francis Rittenhouse’s zest for life extended to the lively tradition of the Mummers, as he actively participated with the Fralinger String Band in Philadelphia, adding a touch of festivity to his diverse experiences.
Francis Rittenhouse’s journey also included marriage to Gertrude, with whom he welcomed two daughters, Frances and Trudy, into their lives. Sadly, akin to his father’s untimely departure, Francis Rittenhouse’s life was cut short at an early age. In September of 1975, at the age of 52, he passed away, leaving behind a legacy of family, hard work, and community spirit.
Francis Hull Rittenhouse came into the world on June 29, 1923, in the vibrant city of Camden, New Jersey. He was the cherished child of John F. and Madeline “Nell” Rittenhouse. In his family circle, he had an elder brother named John and the companionship of two older step-brothers, Robert and William Rowan. The Rittenhouse…
My grandmother was a bootlegger and she had… an Eskimo ice cream sign. When the little red light was on, it meant she had liquor.