John F. Rittenhouse

John F. Rittenhouse in his store at 941 Point Street, Camden, NJ in the 1920's. His wife, Madeline Rittenhouse is at the far right.

John F. Rittenhouse came into the world around 1880, tracing his origins to Maryland. In the heart of Camden, he established a thriving enterprise situated at 941 Point Street. Together with his wife, Madeline, they diligently operated this establishment, offering a diverse array of goods including cigars, candy, ice cream, and various sundries. This family-owned store catered to the local community’s needs and desires, becoming an integral part of the neighborhood’s fabric.

Tragically, John F. Rittenhouse passed away in February of 1933, leaving a legacy that would endure. Undeterred by this loss, his devoted wife, Madeline, assumed the mantle of leadership, ensuring the store’s continued operation. Her stewardship extended through the years, a testament to her determination and commitment to the business. It wasn’t until 1959 that she decided to retire from the business she and her late husband had nurtured. With her departure, the reins were handed over to her stepson, William “Woo-Woo” Rowan, marking a generational transition that would sustain the store’s enduring presence.

Throughout the years, this establishment, affectionately known in the neighborhood as “Woo-Woo’s” in its later days, maintained its status as a beloved local hub. Its diverse inventory, which encompassed groceries, confections, tobacco products, and the ever-popular ice cream, catered to the evolving tastes of the community. Notably, “Woo-Woo’s” became synonymous with its distinctive ice cream sign, featuring a charming Eskimo character that captured the imagination of those who passed by.

The Rittenhouse family had deep roots in the community, and their connections extended beyond the store’s walls. John F. Rittenhouse’s sons, John and Francis, were gainfully employed at the nearby Mathis Shipyard, contributing to the area’s industrial landscape. Meanwhile, stepson William Rowan also found his place at Mathis Shipyard, showcasing the family’s work ethic and dedication. Another stepson, Robert Rowan, pursued a career in Camden’s thriving leather trade, likely finding employment at the nearby John R. Evans & Co. leather factory. Francis Rittenhouse even embraced the vibrant tradition of the Mummers, becoming an active participant with the Fralinger String Band in Philadelphia, adding a touch of festivity to the family’s rich tapestry of experiences.


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