More or less the equivalent of the modern golf course and country club, The Stockton Rifle Range Association was organized by Samuel H. French and a group of Civil War veteran officers including General William Joyce Sewell in 1866. When first established it was laid out on 43 and one half acres in the Wrightsville section of old Stockton Township, more or less in the vicinity of the present-day John F. Kennedy Towers senior citizen apartment building at South 20th Street and Watson Street in East Camden.
In 1885 George Reeder Prowell wrote in his History of Camden County, New Jersey the following:
The range proper is provided with the best improved batteries and firing grounds in the United States. as originally built, it contained ranges up to one thousand yards; but as this was seldom used, it was deemed advisable to reduce it to six hundred yards. The New Jersey and Pennsylvania Rifle Clubs and teams, the Pennsylvania National Guards, and other national military companies meet at this place, and the range is provided with magazines and closets for the exclusive use of the different State organizations.
Soon after the rifle range was started an additional forty six and one-half acres of ground was laid out in connection with the grounds of the range, as a park and pleasure resort, making the park ninety acres in extent.
The park was known as Stockton Park, and in time the entire ninety acre complex was known by that name. It fell into disuse after Stockton Township merged with the City of Camden. Old Stockton Park’s last recreational use was by Camden naturalist Warren E. Buck. Raised at 1902 Stockton Park, he operated a zoo on the grounds during the late 1920s and on into the 1930s before relocating his operation to a site along Marlton Pike (State Highway 70), east of the rail line that cross that thoroughfare, in what was then Delaware Township (present day Cherry Hill) NJ. The site was also used during the depression by local gardeners to grow vegetables, and most likely also was used for that purpose during World War II.
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William Joyce Sewell was born on December 6, 1835 in Ireland. Orphaned at a young age, he emigrated to the United States in 1851. He was for a time employed in mercantile business in New York City, made several voyages as a sailor on merchant vessels, afterward engaged in business in Chicago, IL. He moved…
Originally a part of Stockton Township, the area that is now known as East Camden was merged into Camden proper in 1899 along with the neighborhood now known as Cramer Hill.
East Camden used to have three parks “in the old days”—and to hear a veteran like Police Sergeant William C. Horner tell it—they certainly kept the police force “on its toes.”
Harrisburg Patriot – July 17, 1899 Philadelphia, July 16—Walter S. Jones, colored, is locked up in Camden Jail under a chain of weird circumstances. On Friday night a horse and empty wagon were found standing in a clump of bushes near Seventeenth and Mickle streets, a sparsely settled part of Camden’s annexed district. Almost simultaneous…