1890 Review of Camden, New Jersey – Part 1

1890 Historical and Industrial Review of Camden New Jersey

This page is part of the 1890 Historical and Industrial Review of Camden, New Jersey. Please also see the following pages which continue the publication:

Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – Businesses
Part 3 – Businesses (Cont’d)
Part 4 – Businesses (Cont’d)
Part 5 – Businesses (Cont’d)
Part 6 – Businesses (Cont’d)
Part 7 – Businesses (Cont’d)
Part 8 – Businesses (Cont’d)
Part 9 – Businesses (Cont’d)
Part 10 – Conclusion

1890 Historical and Industrial Review of Camden, New Jersey – Intro

The Historical and Industrial Review of Camden, New Jersey was commissioned and published by Camden’s Board of Trade, a forerunner of the Chamber of Commerce.


The Camden City Board of Trade

In recognition of the serious detriment to the advancement of the general interest of the city, by reason of lack of unity on questions of trade and commerce, and in furthering the material prosperity of the municipality, a number of citizens organized THE CAMDEN CITY BOARD OF TRADE. It was believed that such an organization would by concert of action, not only promote the material welfare of the community, and give increased efficiency to many individual enterprises, but that the pulse of the commercial, financial, manufacturing, and industrial establishments would be quickened and strengthened.

The Board is composed of leading citizens, most of whom are large property holders, and representing in some measures the taxable value of the city, it is reasonable to assume that its action would be for the best interests of the community. The City of Camden. though occupying a position similar in many respects to that of Brooklyn, did not receive the benefit from Philadelphia, that was given the former by the City of New York. Brooklyn and New York have had a wonderfully similar experience from the benefits of the “Reciprocity Doctrine,” which is now assuming a large measure of public thought. The growth of the larger city advantageously affected the life of the smaller one. Did one receive an impetus in her development, the other was similarly affected, and so on through the years, these two cities, have grown apace. Not so, however, with Camden as related to the growth of the great City of Philadelphia. Geographically considered Philadelphia and Camden are similar to New York and Brooklyn, but in the vital point of comparison they are radically different. New York and Brooklyn, though occupying opposite banks of the same river, are in one State and subject to the same State influences and benefits, whilst Philadelphia and Camden, situated upon the western and eastern slopes of the Delaware River respectively, are in different Commonwealths, and consequently their general interests were not in harmony. The increased prosperity in the commercial and manufacturing interests of Philadelphia was not beneficial to Camden. It could not be expected that the merchants and tradesmen of Philadelphia would help promote the welfare of a city in an adjoining State, but that on the contrary care would be exercised that the overplus of business should be transferred to smaller towns within the borders of Pennsylvania.

The City of Camden being thus overshadowed by her neighbor across the river, quietly submitted to this order of things, and no concerted effort was made to secure the locating of industrial establishments on the eastern shores of the Delaware river. Possessed of immense natural facilities, having hundreds of acres of available sites for the location of every conceivable kind of industry, the latter have in the main been unoccupied simply for the lack of progressive and enterprising action on the part of those who represent our city. Too much conservatism has effectually stifled the wide-awake business activity of the few, and nearly every individual effort looking to a new departure has been smothered by the do-nothing policy of those who should have assisted.

Relief from this stagnation has been expected from those in charge of our local affairs. This has at last been found to be if not an impossibility, at least impracticable. City governments like republics do not comprehend the promotion, or the fostering of industries, and private enterprise, has at last been enlisted to fill the vacuum. To suppose a republic to be practicable strips from the Goddess of Liberty her ideality, and demolishes the ethereal essence of her existence, and that would be painful. So with municipal authorities, the experience of Camden has not been unlike that of other cities, and a Board of Trade has been organized in order that the city should keep abreast of the times, and not suffer in the competitive struggle with other municipalities.

The Board has been in existence a little over a year. Of course its progress has been slow, and necessarily so. Its aim is to accomplish some practical good for the benefit of the city. With due regard to the importance of establishing a better order of things, a strong effort is made to determine the elective field of Camden’s opportunities, and the scope of her possibilities. It has been tersely said that “all things will come to him who waits.” This may be true, but the Board of Trade has been awakened to the realization of the fact that some of the “all things” they don’t want, and that is “business stagnation,” and “municipal decay.”

The Board are preparing, through its Secretary, a prospectus in which will appear in a comprehensive form the advantages which the city can offer for the consideration of persons who are engaged in business enterprises. Camden has suffered in the past, by reason of her nearness to Philadelphia, now it is proposed, instead of waiting for “all things” to come, as a reward for patience, to go boldly out into the open market of competition and secure the portion of our inheritance that belongs to us.

The Board have awakened to the fact that Camden is most magnificently planted on the side of the finest fresh tidal river in the world, and with a water frontage which, by the expenditure of a moderate sum of money, can be made, in the language of Chief Engineer Brown of the Pennsylvania Railroad System, the equal of any harbor in the country. Her system of Railways traverse every portion of the State, and their termini, is found in every section of the country.

The personnel of the Board is exceptionally welt adapted for successfully carrying out its mission. In its membership are found many of the representatives of every branch of successful businessmen. Its President, Mr. E. N. Cohn, has had remarkable success as a builder and contractor, and he has within the past ten years erected dwellings, the aggregate cost exceeding several millions of dollars. Mr. Cohn is also President of the Roanoke R. R. & Lumber Company.

Mr. Howland Croft, the Vice President, is an extensive manufacturer of worsted yarns, and whilst finding his business demanding his personal superintendence, arranges to attend the meetings, and is always interested in forwarding the cause which the Board represents.

Mr. Wilbur F. Rose, the Treasurer, is Cashier of the National State Bank, an institution which has contributed largely to Camden’s prosperity, and maintained her reputation at the highest standard of her opportunities throughout the country. Mr. Rose is gifted with rare judgment and keen discrimination. Profoundly interested in all that pertains to the welfare of the city and with a kindly and supporting sympathy, in every movement tending to the betterment of things, it is of course a matter of fact that Mr. Rose is one of the most active workers in the Board.

The relation of Mr. Harris Graffen, the Secretary of the Board, to this article naturally precludes any further mention.

In the Executive Council are to be found such public spirited and enterprising citizens as William Bleakley, dealer in lime and sand; J. S. Justice, prominent in real estate matters; John W. Cheney, an authority in insurance; George Barrett, lumber and spar merchant; W. S. Scull, importer of teas, coffees and spices; Howard Carrow, the leader of the junior bar; Robert F. S. Heath, Register of Deeds, and also a leading manufacturer of grocers’ specialties; J. J. Burleigh, Train Master of the West Jersey Railway, and H. B. Wilson, dealer in coal and wood.

The roll of membership is so thoroughly representative of Camden’s best interests, that it is given in full:


  • President — E. N. Cohn
  • Vice-President — Howland Croft
  • Treasurer — Wilbur F. Rose
  • Secretary — Harris Graffen

Executive Council

  • William Bleakley
  • Howard Carrow
  • R. F. S. Heath
  • Jacob S. Justice
  • J. J. Burleigh
  • Geo. Barrett
  • H. B. Wilson
  • Wm. S. Scull
  • John W. Cheney


  • Armstrong, Hon. E. A., Attorney at Law
  • Barrett, George, Lumber, Saw Mill and Sparmaker
  • Bailey, W. T., Builder
  • Bender, R. S., Bookbinder and Chief of Fire Department
  • Bleakley, Wm., Lime and Cement
  • Bennett, Volney G., Lumber
  • Bottomley, John T., Treasurer Camden Woolen Mills.
  • Burleigh, J. J., Train Master West Jersey R. R.
  • Bottomley, John H., with Priestley & Co., Manufacturers- Worsted Goods
  • Bennett, W. R., Jeweler.
  • Bradley, W. J., Superintendent, American Dredging Co.
  • Bonsall, H. L.; Publisher – Daily Post.
  • Bailey, Samuel T., Oil Cloth Manufacturer
  • Carrow, Howard, Attorney at Law
  • Croft, Howland, Manufacturer – Worsted Yarns
  • Croft, J. W., Manufacturer – Worsted Yarns
  • Cohn, E. N., Building and Contractor
  • Cheney, John W., Fire Insurance
  • Curtis, Cyrus H. K., Publisher – Ladies’ Home Journal
  • Chew, Sinnickson, Publisher – West Jersey Press
  • Dialogue, John H., Ship Builder
  • Danenhower, G. R., Grocer
  • Drake, Herbert A., Attorney at Law
  • Depuy, Watson, Cashier – First National Bank
  • D’Arcy, John, Architect
  • Derousse, L.B., City Comptroller
  • Donges, John W., Physician and Druggist
  • Erdman, D. H., Stoves
  • Ernst, Wilson, Builder
  • Eastlack, J. R., Grocer
  • Furbush, Charles, Machine Manufacturer
  • Ferris, Isaac, Jr., Shoe Manufacturer
  • Francis, H. B., Plumber
  • Farr, Edward L., Oil Cloth Manufacturer
  • Gomersall, D. H., Dry Goods and Shoes
  • Graffen, Harris, Real Estate
  • Garwood, Samuel, Managing Director – Philadelphia & Atlantic City R. R.
  • Garland, John C., Cashier – Western National Bank, Philadelphia
  • Hood, John
  • Hansell, William C., Paper Hanger
  • Heath, R. F. S., Register of Deeds
  • Hall, E.S., Treasurer and Secretary – New Jersey Trust and Safe Deposit Co.
  • Harned, Thomas B., Attorney at Law
  • Hallinger, H. G., Manager – Camden Real Estate and Investment Co.
  • Hatch, Cooper B., Brickmaker
  • Hayes, James E., Attorney at Law
  • Holl, George, Builder
  • Ivins, Mahlon, Painter
  • Justice, Jacob S., Real Estate
  • Janke, Charles A., Manager – Delaware & Atlantic Telegraph and Telephone Co.
  • Johnson, Charles, Builder
  • Kilpatrick, Samuel A., Lime and Coal.
  • Knowles, Wm. H., Manager – Cooper’s Point Iron Works
  • Kobus, Anthony, Shoe Dealer
  • Lamar, A. C., Glass Manufacturer
  • Leatherbury, Claudian, Real Estate
  • Mogan, Randal E., Real Estate and Builder
  • Mason, R. C., Pianos
  • Michellon, F. F., City Treasurer
  • Milliette, Alexander J., Printer
  • Murphy, P. J., Oil Cloth Manufacturer
  • Morgan, J. Willard, Attorney at Law
  • Nunes, Emmanuel, Wholesale and Retail Clothing
  • Reeve, Benjamin C., Oil Cloth Manufacturer
  • Roberts, Edward, Proprietor – North Camden Livery Stable
  • Rose, Wilbur F., Cashier – National State Bank
  • Risley, D. Somers, Real Estate and Insurance
  • Scull, J. W., Worsted Manufacturer
  • Sewell, Gen. William J., ex-U. S. Senator and Vice-President – West Jersey R.R.
  • Scull, William S., Coffee, Teas and Spices
  • Scudder, William C., Lumber
  • Somers, Frank C., Dredger
  • Safford, Thomas S., Treasurer – West Jersey Paper Manufactory
  • Safford, Frank D., Manager – W. H. Fay & Co., Manufacturers of Paper
  • Sitley, Frank, Flour, Feed and Grain Merchant
  • Shearman, William H., Contractor
  • Stockham, Charles, Saw Mill
  • Simmons, Fithian S., Undertaker
  • Taylor, George E., Flour, Feed and Grain
  • Troth, Amos W., Gent’s Furnishings, Philadelphia
  • Taylor, Clarence W., Real Estate
  • Vansciver, J. B., Dealer in Furniture and Carpets.
  • Wolfe, Harry F., Grocer
  • Wilson, H. B., Dealer in Coal and Wood
  • Wood, Walter, President – Camden Iron Co.
  • West, George S., Surrogate of Camden County
  • Williams, Carlton M., of Morse, Williams & Co., Manufacturer of Elevators.
  • Woolman, Franklin C., Attorney at Law
  • York, M. H., Wool Merchant

The subjects that are now engaging the attention of the Board are the improvement of the Harbor of Philadelphia. The Government has ordered the removal of the Islands which now obstruct in some measure the navigation of vessels of the largest tonnage, and the contract for their removal has been awarded. The Board of Trade are to be congratulated upon their determined effort to secure from the Government Engineers a proper and just recognition of the claims of Camden, and the assurance given by the Commission is a guarantee that the readjustment of the Harbor lines will vastly increase our water front privileges. When it is known that Camden has a frontage for miles upon a magnificent river, having a uniform width of two thousand feet, it will not be strange if hundreds of enterprises will not be speedily in operation along the Jersey shore.

The necessity for public parks is receiving due consideration at the Board, and the measures now in progress bid fair to have our City possess a magnificent park, so that in this regard Camden shall not be behind her neighbors.

The Board at a recent meeting petitioned Councils for the opening of Delaware Avenue northward from Federal Street to Vine Street one hundred feet, and Front Street southward from Hartman Street to Bulson Street, the same width. These two streets front on the river Delaware nearly the entire length of the city, and when opened through and widened to the extent proposed, will give Camden the finest street for commercial purposes on the continent. A company is being organized for the purpose of constructing a double track railway on these two streets, and this Belt Line, as it is known, having connection with the present and prospective systems of railways, will permit every needed facility for transportation by rail, and as the projectors of the Belt Line intend to construct sidings with the pier and wharfage system, it will undoubtedly give our city every opportunity to trade in the commerce of the world.

A Board of Trade journal will be published monthly, the first number appearing early in November. The management of the journal will endeavor to make it thoroughly representative of Camden and its interests. The various manufactural and industrial pursuits will receive due attention, and no effort will be spared to place Camden in the place to which she is entitled. The Journal will be conducted by Mr. Harris Graffen, Secretary of the Board, who will be assisted in the business management by Mr. John J. Macnamara, who has years of experience in journalistic life.

This article would be incomplete without an expression from the Board of their grateful appreciation of the efforts made by the Public Press of Camden to further the actions of the Board. There has ever been by the Press a disposition to assist the work of the Board, and the Secretary cheerfully acknowledges his obligation for the kindly and courteous treatment he has received from the reportorial staff of the local press.


The city of Camden is the fourth in population of the cities of New Jersey, and is situated on the east bank of the Delaware, opposite Philadelphia, on a peninsula formed by the Delaware river and Cooper’s and Newton creeks. The site of the present city was purchased and settled in the latter part of the seventeenth century by four individuals.

William Cooper, in 1679, located the land lying between the river on the west and north, Cooper’s creek on the east and Cooper street on the south, and settling there in 1682 called it “Pyne Point,” on account of a dense pine forest which he found there. He established a ferry to Philadelphia, and that ferry has continued in operation until this day.

In 1682 William Royden bought the land lying between Cooper street and Line street, which he afterwards sold to William Cooper.

In 1690 Archibald Mickle, having bought the land: lying between Iine ditch and Newton creek, and extending from the Delaware to the Mount Ephraim road, built a residence on the river bank. His purchase now comprises the Eighth ward of this city. The fourth settler was John Kaighn, a carpenter, who in 1696 bought 455 acres of land lying between Line ditch and Line street. He built a one-story brick house at Second and Sycamore streets, which, with the addition of two stories, still stands. The house then stood on the river shore, now two squares away. The name of Camden was first applied by Jacob Cooper, to that portion lying between Cooper and Arch streets (then Plum street), and extending east to Sixth street, in 1773 when he had it surveyed and laid off into town lots.

In 1820 Edward Sharp, the first one to suggest “bridging the Delaware, laid out the land from Federal street to south of Bridge avenue and running from East to West street, which he called “Camden Village.” Other portions of the now city were known as ‘Billy Cooper’s Ferry,” “Kaighntown,” and ” Dogwood-town,” while the entire settlement for many years was called ” Pluck-’em-in,” from an alleged practice of the Indians of the locality of throwing infants into the cold water of the streams, as a test of their vitality and endurance.

The location of Camden, on a broad river, opposite Philadelphia, for a long time the metropolis of the nation, gave to it an importance it would not otherwise have attained, and made it the center of travel for all of “West,” or rather South, Jersey. This travel called for ferries, and these were early established and persistently maintained until now five ferries, with twenty capacious and powerful boats, are used between the two shores. Excellent turnpike roads were constructed between Camden and the numerous flourishing towns to the north, east and south, and the town or rather cluster of villages, as designated above, was made lively by the arrival and departure of stage coaches with their passengers, farmers’ wagons with their produce, and oystermen and fishermen with the shelly and scaly gatherings of the sounds and inlets of the seashore, not omitting mention, however, of the begrimed dealer in charcoal. Yet these enterprises gave employment to comparatively few, and Camden’s growth was slow.

There were no postal facilities until 1803, when the “Cooper’s Ferry Post-office” was established, at the foot of Cooper street. Benjamin B. Cooper was the first postmaster, and a cigar box would hold a day’s gathering of letters. It is now a first-class post-office, and a $100,000 building is about to be constructed for its accommodation. The first letter carrier was appointed in 1852, and free delivery established in 1863, to be abolished in 1864, and re-established in 1873. There are now employed about thirty carriers.

Less for supplying the wants of Camden than for the accommodation of the inhabitants of the towns whose business called them there, “The State Bank at Camden” was formed and opened for business, at Second and Market streets, June 16th, 1812. The capital stock was $800,000, but in subsequent years this was reduced to $200,000. It is now known as the “National State Bank, at Camden.” Five banking institutions, with capital and surplus exceeding a million and a quarter, with over $8,000,000 capital employed, besides which there seventeen building and loan associations, with assets reaching $1,500,000.

As before stated, Camden was composed of a few straggling settlements, the people chiefly engaged in the ferry and stage business. Industrial establishments. were few and limited in capacity. As early as 1810, Benjamin Allen had a tannery at “Kaighntown,” which he conducted on a large scale until about 1830, when he died.

About 1812, Isaac VanSciver, encouraged by Joseph Kaighn, started a carriage factory at Kaighntown; afterwards removing to Front and Plum (now Arch), where, for forty years, he did an extensive business, shipping his products to the West Indies and South America. Later, Samuel Scull, succeeded by Isaac Cole (known as King Cole), manufactured carriages on a large scale near Second and Arch, and the Collings, Front and Market; Hunt, Market below Front, and Caffrey, Tenth and Market, the ancient “Dogwoodtown,” have maintained Camden’s renown as a producer of carriages.

An early industry was the weaving of the celebrated “Jersey sausage,” noted for its highly essential flavor, the Philadelphia lovers of which found the vendors in the Jersey “market sheds,” on Market street, is almost extinct, German butchers having supplanted Jersey weavers” of the latter, but one or two remaining in the business.

The lumber business, now an extensive one, was. first started by William Carman, who, about 1822, built a sawmill near the foot of Cooper street.

In 1842 John & James G. Capewell established glass works at Kaighn avenue and Locust street, which they conducted for many years, giving employment to a large number of men and boys.

In 1824 Jacob Lehr built a candle factory near Fifth and Market streets, which he carried on successfully until 1840, when he ceased operations, and the building was afterwards used as a piano factory.

The shoe industry, which now numbers many establishments, was carried by individuals as late as 1830, the method being for the shoemaker to visit the homes of his patrons, was provided with leather, and make shoes for the entire family. Among the most noted of these was James Deur, who was elected to the City Council in 1828, but declined to serve.

The earliest mention of iron works in Camden is that of the blacksmith shop of Samuel Bates, on the site of Collings’s carriage factory, east side of Front, above Market, which was started in 1800. He was succeeded by Thomas L. Rowand, who added carriage-smithing to the business, which he sold to Samuel Foreman, who, in 1841, sold out to Samuel D. Elfreth. The latter, in 1848, removed to the opposite side of the street and carried on an extensive machine shop, which he sold in 1863 to Derby & Weatherby.

In 1835 Elias Kaighn started a foundry at Second and Kaighn’s avenue, which was burned down. He started iron works on the present site of the Camden Tool and Tube Works, and in 1840 established a foundry and plow factory at Front and Mechanic street, selling large numbers of the once celebrated Kaighn plow.

The foundries and machine shops of Camden now employ 1700 men, with $1,600,000 capital, and a pay roll of three-quarters of a million of dollars.

The first fire engine was the “Perseverance,” made by the celebrated “Pat” Lyon, of Philadelphia, and bought second-hand in 1810. The machine was stored in a shed in the rear of the bank building at Second and Market streets, and continued in service for nearly forty years. As there was no water works the engine was supplied with water by buckets passed from hand to hand from the nearest pump. Two similar engines were procured about twenty years later, and when the water works were established in 1848, other companies were formed, until the fire department numbered seven engines and hose companies. These were reduced to two on the establishment of the paid Fire Department in 1869; since increased to four engines with tenders, and one hook and ladder truck. The department now consists of a chief, assistant chief, five foremen and 37 men, with horses and all the latest improved fire alarm appliances.

The first house built for religious purposes was the Newtown Meeting House, on Mount Ephraim avenue, erected by the Society of Friends in 1801. followed by the Methodists, at Fourth and Federal, 1810; by the Baptists, Fourth, below Market, in 1818; Episcopalians, Market, above Fourth, in 1835; Presbyterians, Fifth, below Cooper, in 1848; Roman Catholics, Fifth and Taylor’s avenue, in 1859, and others later. The meeting houses now number: Catholics, 3; Protestant Episcopal, 8; Methodist Episcopal, 11; Baptist, 11; Lutheran, 3; Methodist Protestant, 1; Presbyterian, 4; German Evangelical, 1; Friends, 2; Unitarian, 1; United Brethren in Christ, 1; miscellaneous, 7. A total of 52 edifices, including churches, chapels and missions.

It was not for the needs of the people themselves, nor for their better government in the way of restraint, that the straggling villages, within the present limits of the city, were incorporated into a city, February 14, 1828. The population numbered 1143 and they were quiet folks, who if left alone would injure neither themselves nor others; but in those days woods covered much of the surface and offered allurements to pleasure seeking Philadelphians which they did not resist, and they crossed the river to enjoy the pleasures of cool shade and fresh air. They yielded to the enjoyment with such abandon as shocked the sense and propriety of the quiet Jerseymen. Camden was to Philadelphians what Gloucester City is to-day, and the simple township rule of one constable was insufficient to protect the quiet and repress the turbulent. Public gardens were numerous and well patronized: intoxicants were abundant and freely used. A city government with Mayor and police was deemed the panacea, and was obtained, A lockup was needed, and the old City Hall on Federal street, above Fourth, was built at a cost of $2000 and served the city for 46 years, when the present commodious structure was built at an unascertainable cost, but believed to be $14,000.

The boundaries fixed by the charter gave the city an area of nearly four square miles, and the extension of 1871 an area of six and a half miles. The government was simple in construction. A Recorder and five Aldermen, appointed by the Legislature, five Councilmen, elected by the people, and a Mayor, elected by Aldermen, Recorder and Councilmen, constituted Common Council, while the Mayor, Recorder and Aldermen formed a court to try violations of the laws Common Council might ordain. Changes were made. In 1844, the Mayor was made elective by the people, and in 1848, the Aldermen and Recorder were removed from Council, and the entire body was elected by the people. In 1851 further changes were made.

In 1871 a new charter was granted, and Newton township was annexed, making two additional wards, eight in all; the terms of the Mayor, Recorder and Councilmen (three from each ward) were extended to three years.

Under these charters the city has grown at a rapid rate, and more than maintains its ranks among cities of its class.

In 1854 the Water Works Company removed the plant to Pavonia, and in 1871 the city purchased them for $200,000. Since the purchase the rates have been reduced, the supply increased and the quality improved. There are 60 miles of pipe laid; the supply is 15,000,000 gallons per day, and the receipts amount to $122,730.82 annually.

The police force of the city now consists of a chief and 45 patrolmen and 8 men in the Police Patrol system.


When the city was chartered, in 1828, the population was 1143. The following table gives the increase since:


The present population, according to the estimate of the supervisor of the census just completed, is 60,000.

The representative business houses of the present day, who, by their energy and enterprise, contribute to the City’s material wealth, occupy the remainder of this department of our work.


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