HomeTabernacle NewsNew historical society president looks to grow membership, interest

New historical society president looks to grow membership, interest

Richard Franzen talks about the census and the Pepper House in 2017. (Tabernacle Historical Society/Special to The Sun).

A lover of small-town history has become the man in charge at the Tabernacle Historical Society, and he hopes to bring in more members and spark interest throughout the township.

Richard Franzen was formally welcomed to the society as president on Sept. 12 during the organization’s monthly meeting. Other inducted members included Mary Ann Silvers as vice present and treasurer (who used to be president), and Ann Franzen as secretary.

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I’ve always been interested in the local history and sharing that there’s a lot of history in this town because most people haven’t lived here their entire lives,” Franzen said.

He added the amount of history within Tabernacle goes deeper than what one might think with the township having approximately 2,000 residents in the 1970s, to now having around 7,000. The historian is also a genealogist and has been a member of various genealogical societies.

In his time as president, Franzen wants to build on the plan former president Silvers put together back in March that established the society’s long-term goals, one of which included providing residents and visitors new ways to learn about the township’s history with a self-guided GPS tour of the township’s 31 historic sites, paired with an audio description of each. The tour can be obtained by emailing Franzen at PineyRick@Aol.com.

We’ve done a lot of work at the Old Tabernacle Cemetery, and we’re going to continue to follow up on more improvements,” Franzen said.

He went on to add the society takes care of the administrative duties at the cemetery, but no one knows who owns it because it was originally for 28 people decades ago. They now have “thousands of descendants.” In addition to the cemetery’s upkeep, he added the society has been tracing records to find out how many people are buried in it.

The record had 500 or 600 people, and we’ve identified 1,200 people, and we believe it’s full,” he said.

Other plans Franzen has in mind for the society is to launch a website, work with Indian Mills and Southampton historical societies, research the industries in town, decorate the Pepper-Knight House, continue an oral history program with multi-generational residents and work more with the two school districts in town (Tabernacle and Lenape Regional).

Franzen said he has plans in mind to get people more interested in the society and becoming regular volunteers, such as finding out the origins of Patty Bowker Road and having a stronger presence at town-wide events.

It’s hard. All groups are the same, whether it’s athletics, women’s club – it’s hard to find volunteers,” he said. Other historical societies have around the same number of people who regularly show up, like Tabernacle’s.

To learn more about the historical society and to meet its new president, stop by one of its meetings, held at Town Hall (163 Carranza Road) on the second Thursday of every month, starting at 7:30 p.m., or visit its Facebook page at Facebook.com/TabernacleHistoricalSociety.


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