The Year 1833 – Camden, NJ

SPAN OF A CENTURY, 1828-1928


Compiled from notes and data collected by Charles S. Boyer, President Camden County Historical Society. Published by Centennial Anniversary Committee of Camden, New Jersey. Additional Photos and Notes by Phillip Cohen in 2003.

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That section of the city commonly known as Fettersville was purchased by Richard Fetters in 1833 from Charity and Grace Kaighn and embraced the land lying between Line and Cherry Streets, extending from Third Street to the Delaware River. Fetters, a Quaker, was a political and civic leader light years ahead of his time in his commitment to address the needs of his fellow citizens, and was involved the 1828 incorporation of Camden. The town of Fettersville grew rapidly, and in 1835 an additional tract was purchased from the Kaighn family extending south to Mount Vernon Street.

Lots originally laid out by Fetters, measured 30×200 feet and in 1835 were assessed at $50 each. These low rates attracted many buyers of modest mean, a large portion of them South Jersey and Philadelphia blacks. He platted these lands into lots and sold them for $125 for a lot 40 x 100 feet. Fetters’ plan placed the fronts on the streets running east and west in consideration of his design for a ferry to be located at the foot of Spruce Street.

Richard Fetters passed away in 1863, in his 72nd year.

Camden, located directly across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, stood at the crossroads of African American history in the U.S. and an exploration of its historic sites sheds light on numerous aspects of slavery in colonial and ante-bellum America. It should be noted that there were several black communities in the area, including Timbuctoo and Fettersville. Timbuctoo was founded in the 1820s near modern day Mt. Holly. It remains the only area settled by African Americans named after a city in Africa.

Fettersville, an area in South Camden, that was approximately 22 square blocks, was a large free black community established in 1833. The land belonged to, and was named after, Richard Fetters. He divided his property into smaller lots and sold it at reasonable rates. The land sold rapidly because of its proximity to the Delaware and the ferries to Philadelphia.

Renée S. Gordon,


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