The  Poquessing Pathfinder Online
The Friends of Poquessing Watershed Inc. of Philadelphia and Bucks County
Dedicated to the Conservation and Beautification of the Poquessing Creek and Its Environs 
P.O. Box 11552  Email: Fall/Winter  2002   Volume 12   Issue 2
Philadelphia, PA 19116 Phone: (215) 972-6275  Fax: (215) 632-2549 

Where Oh Where Has Our Little Park Gone?!
        Development of Poquessing Park certainly is the priority goal of FOPW. As most of you know through articles in the Pathfinder and local newspapers, five years ago the Fairmount Park Commission (FPC) was awarded a one-time $26 million grant from the William Penn Foundation. During those five years FOPW has been working with the City of Philadelphia, Bensalem and FPC by having many planning and information meetings with consultants and community groups, by writing letters and articles, and by generally doing all we could to make this dream happen.  
        So you must know that we are sadly disappointed about what HASN’T happened:
        This past year FPC had to hand back $9 million of the grant to William Penn because FPC could not find a way to spend the money within the five-year grant period. William Mifflin is out as executive director of FPC and Philip Goldsmith, former interim CEO of the Philadelphia school system is in — at least until a permanent director is selected.  
        On the positive side, Mr. Goldsmith is off and running. On November 4, he toured our park along with volunteer coordinator Jackie Olson, district supervisor Clark Crawford, and yours truly. The second positive is the reconstituted FPC with six new members (although the Northeast did lose Karen Borski) and a new chair of Robert C. Nix 3rd who replaces Eugene Fitzdixon. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mr. Nix for six years. He has energy, pragmatism, and an open-door policy.  
    So looks like we have to “hang in” a while longer. Hopefully the new administration will bring about our dream.             

            Dianne Retzback

*P.S. Here is a copy of Phil Goldsmith’s greeting letter to us including his e-mail. He invites your input.  
September 6, 2002
Mrs. Dianne Retzback
Friends of Poquessing Watershed
Philadelphia, PA
Dear Mrs. Retzback
It is my pleasure to introduce myself to you as the new Executive Director for Fairmount Park. Although I officially started on September 5th, I spent the month of August getting to know better our  City’s greatest asset, the Fairmount Park system. I had the opportunity to visit both regional and neighborhood parks as well as historic sites, talking with community volunteers just like you. Fairmount Park is an incredible resource and asset to the entire Philadelphia region. With a new Commission, this is an exciting time of change for Fairmount Park. My immediate goals are to make the parks accessible, informative, and fun! I welcome your comments and ideas. Please e-mail me at I can’t promise that I will be able to respond to each e-mail; but I will read and seriously consider every one. 
I salute you for your efforts in working with park staff to create a national model of citizen service for parks right here in Philadelphia. I look forward to your continued support, and hope I too will be considered a “friend” of the parks.
            Philip R. Goldsmith
            Executive Director
            Fairmount Park Commission

Benjamin Rush Marker


    On Thursday June 13, 2002 (after being rained out on June 6), FOPW sponsored the dedication of a Pennsylvania Historical Plaque marking the location of the birthplace of Dr. Benjamin Rush. Our sincere thanks go to historian Celeste Morello, who prepared the documentation and FOPW member Marty Munizza, who handled the arrangements for FOPW and contributed 2/3 of the cost of the marker himself.  Several FOPW members attended, including former President Henry Gabriel, his wife Rosemary, and daughter Kathleen Gibboni,  Hal and Sue Rosenthal, Donna Remick, Chuck Benshetler and Sandy Kern. Frank Muhly, founder of the Phila chapter of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation also attended. A speech given by State Senator Mike Stack highlighted the many accomplishments of Dr. Rush. If you’d like to visit the site where Dr. Rush was born, it is located on the corner of Keswick and Rayland Streets, near Frankford-Torresdale Hospital.  
President notes: Sorry I couldn’t be there; but a BIG THANK YOU for a great job done to VP Donna Remick who officially represented FOPW at the dedication. 

On a beautiful June afternoon, nine FOPW members and two guests enjoyed a guided tour of the Andalusia mansion
followed by a walk on the estate grounds. Andalusia, located in Bensalem, was the home of Nicholas Biddle, one of the
most prominent and powerful men in the country. As Director of the Second National Bank of the United States,
Nicholas Biddle was responsible for the value of the nation’s currency, a position similar to the one held by Alan
Greenspan at the Federal Reserve Bank today. Andalusia is still owned by descendants of Nicholas and Jane Biddle
and many of the original furnishings remain. 

       A recent item in a local paper indicated some politician wants to rename Burling Avenue - it is already named for a Civil War veteran - Colonel George C. Burling who was involved in several battles during the war. He donated his saddle bags carried in these battles to Byberry Friends Library. They are now on display in the meetinghouse. The original hand written paper is in the Byberry Library.  His son attended Byberry Friends School 1871 - 72. I hope the name Burling Avenue remains.
            B. Walton
Note from the editor: The hand written note Bea refers to states that the saddle bags were carried by Colonel Burling in the following battles: Siege of Yorktown, Williamsburg, Seven Pines, White Oak Swamp, Glendale, —iston Station, Chantilly, Chancellorsville, McLean’s Ford, Fair Oaks, Savage Station, Peach Orchard, Malvern Hill, 2nd Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Kelly’s Ford, and Minerun.  

The home of Colonel George C. Burling,
  Burling home
Veteran of the Civil War
was located on Burling Avenue
across the road from the new Veterans Hospital
Burling Avenue is the entrance to Benjamin Rush State Park, located on Roosevelt Boulevard
Southampton Road and Old Lincoln Highway

        The 5th grade students in Resa Levinson’s Gifted Support class at  Loesche Elementary School were back again at the Somerton Water Tanks site - planting, learning and having fun!  The 2nd installment of this project, which began last fall, took place on a gorgeous spring day in May!  Pat Ford and Denis Mora from the Philadelphia Water Department brought flowers and shrubs (donated by Russell Gardens) for the children to plant.  The children also spread bird food plot seeds (donated by the Pennsylvania Game Commission).  Drew Brown from the PWD education department helped out too.  The students had contacted a local paper and a reporter documented the event.  Of special interest to bird watchers, tree swallows nested in the bird houses that were installed last fall.  The children (and grown-ups) were delighted by this!  Denis explained how tree swallows help to control the mosquito population so it is very useful to encourage tree swallows to nest.  By the end of the morning, the spring planting was finished and the students were visibly proud of their achievement.  As part of this project, students created and distributed flyers to all of the neighbors to gain community support for the meadow.
        A special thanks to the following people:  Thanks to our president, Dianne W. Retzback who has been volunteering her time over the years at PWD meetings.  At these meetings, Dianne helped in formulating the initial plans for this environmental education project for the children in the Poquessing Watershed. Thanks to Pat and Denis for their hard work of digging and preparing the site as well as for teaching the children so much.  Thanks also to all of the parent volunteers whose support was greatly appreciated.  Finally, thanks to Resa for her methodical planning and the grant writing that she did with me.  Thanks also for team-teaching with me to facilitate student research about wildflowers as part of this “Service Learning” project.  Due to Resa’s enthusiasm and dedicated work, plans are already underway to get her new crop of fifth graders involved in enlarging the existing meadow and creating signs for the site. If you wish to visit this garden, you will find it on the north side of the Somerton Water Tanks on Tomlinson Rd. in Northeast Philadelphia.   
 Suzanne Zlotnick, Vice President of Education

Mad About Meadows Award pic

Pat Ford and Denis Mora of PWD received awards for their contributions to Mad About Meadows from Dianne
Retzback and Suzanne Zlotnick at FOPW’s November meeting.

    “My grandmother, Madeleine Moore, once owned an historic farmhouse fronting on the Poquessing Creek that was said to be part of the underground railroad. There was also nearby an old stone mill in ruins along the unpaved road to the farm. We last visited there and spent a wonderful summer at the farm in 1949.” 
    So began the email FOPW received from Wendy Geagan last March. Wendy and her cousin Douglas Moore were planning a visit to walk the Poquessing Creek along the area where her grandmother’s home once stood and were trying to locate the site. 
    A few phone calls were all that was needed to discover that the site of the house and Gordon’s Mill is now under the parking lot behind Franklin Mills, and that several of our members remembered Doug Moore, his parents Ike and Helen, and his brother Donald.  Josephine Edwards arranged a reunion luncheon during their visit to our watershed, and a great time was had by all who attended. Doug was thrilled to see his old friends, and had many interesting stories of his family and life on the Poquessing over 50 years ago, and many pictures which he kindly shared with us.       
 Gordon's Mill
Was located on the Poquessing Creek near Knights Road
 Built by John Hillborn.
 In 1776 Jesse James built the stonework in the breast of the dam.
 Isaac and Helen Moore, in the 2nd floor doorway, spent their 
honeymoon in  Gordon’s Mill on the banks of the  Poquessing Creek.

Moore Home

Donald and Douglas Moore in the meadow by their home on the banks of the Poquessing Creek (circa 1930).