New Camden Cemetery

Funeral Undertaker Coffin Stock Photo

Northeast Corner of Mount Ephraim Avenue and Ferry Avenue

New Camden Cemetery is on the northeast corner of Mount Ephraim Avenue and Ferry Avenue, opposite Evergreen Cemetery. The cemetery opened in 1887, as Old Camden Cemetery, between Mount Ephraim and Haddon Avenues north of Mount Vernon Street, was approaching capacity. The City of Camden owns and is responsible for maintaining both cemeteries.

New Camden Cemetery was probably the last facility in Camden to employ a horse. Diamond, the cemetery horse, was a fixture for many years, and worked well into the 1930s.

The cemetery features four distinct sections. On the north side of the cemetery is the Soldiers Plot, where veterans of the Civil War and other conflicts were buried. This section was decorated each Memorial Day weekend with flags by members of American Legion Memorial Post 274 of 1944 Broadway in Camden, until the Post disbanded in 2007. Post 274 planted flags each year on the grave of every known veteran at new Camden Cemetery annually.

The Old Jewish section, in the southwest corner of the property, was purchased by members of Camden’s Jewish community around the turn of the century. In the Jewish tradition, it was surrounded by a fence. When this section approached capacity, a much larger piece of ground was acquired at the southeast corner of the cemetery. This too was fenced off, and is known as the New Jewish Section.

The fourth distinct area is a row of graves toward the rear of the cemetery known as the Soldier’s Row. This row appears to have been established for veterans without means. Two burials were received in 1957, and two more in 1959. In 1964 burials again began, and continued apace until September of 1968, when the row reached capacity. One of the last burials was that of Corporal Steven M. Goldsboro, a Marine from Camden who was killed in action in Vietnam.

Besides Steven Goldsboro, many other of Camden’s war dead rest at New Camden Cemetery, including William Stanley Ablett, for whom which the Ablett Village public housing project was named. New Camden Cemetery is also the final resting place of George W. Stewart, awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Civil War. Many other of Camden’s notable citizens, and a few of those activities more notorious than notable, are buried here.

New Camden Cemetery was for many years a place that the City of Camden could be proud of, with well maintained and well-groomed lawns. As the character of the population of the city changed, however, so did the character of the population of those responsible for maintaining both New Camden and Old Camden cemeteries. In the 1980s and 1990s Public Works employees themselves committed horrible acts of vandalism, removing tombstones and dumping them into the Delaware River near the Farragut Avenue sewage treatment station. Although the culprits went unpunished for these deeds, justice was served when the director of the Department and several employees were convicted on corruption charges in the 1990s.

Typically, care of individual graves has fallen back to the families, where there are any. A tale characteristic of the times would be that which occurred Memorial Day weekend, 2003. On that Saturday morning, American Legion Post 274 and the Post 274 Sons of the American Legion planted 600 flags at New Camden Cemetery. Most gratifying was the rediscovery of the grave of Corporal Robert G. Toperzer, who was killed in action in Germany on February 24, 1945. Corporal Toperzer’s grave had been concealed by branches, leaves, and untrimmed grass. Legionnaires and SAL members cleared the undergrowth and planted a flag and American Legion grave marker for him. If a Post 274 Legionnaire hadn’t known what to look for, Corporal Toperzer’s remains and marker would have been LOST FOREVER. To allow our War dead to become “missing in action” in there own homes is not only immoral, it is criminal.

More recently, the city uses convict labor to maintain the grounds. Unfortunately, records concerning burials and cemetery plots were lost in a fire in the 1990s… the corruption, negligence, and laziness which characterized much of what went on at the Public Works building in those years cannot be understated… and there have been instances of people being buried in the wrong locations in recent years. Only after the State of New Jersey stepped in and wrested control of city operations from local politicians in the early 2000s were noticeable improvements been made. One can only hope that Camden’s past will be treated with more respect in the future than it had in the past when responsibility since this task has been handed back to local Camden political figures.


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