Photo above is from the 400 block of Federal Street in approximately 1890.
Welcome to Camden History, unsurprisingly about Camden, New Jersey, a city steeped in history and brimming with stories that have left an indelible mark on the tapestry of America’s past. Situated on the banks of the Delaware River, Camden has a rich and complex history that spans centuries. From its indigenous Lenape inhabitants to the bustling industrial hub of the 19th and 20th centuries, and from its pivotal role in the Underground Railroad to its contributions to the birth of the recording industry, Camden has played a significant part in shaping the nation’s narrative.
Camden’s origins can be traced back to the early 17th century when European settlers first arrived in the region. Over time, it evolved from a quaint village into a thriving industrial center, earning it the nickname “The City Invincible” in the late 19th century. The city’s industries, including shipbuilding, manufacturing, and commerce, contributed to its growth and prosperity.
But Camden’s history is not just one of industry and commerce; it’s also a story of resilience, community, and cultural diversity. Throughout its past, the city has been home to waves of immigrants, each adding their unique traditions and flavors to the city’s vibrant cultural mosaic.
Join us on a journey through time as we explore the people, places, and events that have shaped Camden’s captivating history. From the waterfront to the neighborhoods, from famous figures to everyday citizens, we invite you to discover the hidden gems and untold tales that make Camden a city worth exploring and celebrating.
Whatever your interest, we invite you to join us, have a virtual coffee, subscribe to our email updates, and contribute your own insights.
Remnants of Camden’s history are all around you if you know where to look!
Raymond Renaud Donges — In the execution of many important tasks that have fallen to his lot as one of the leading attorneys of Camden, New Jersey, Mr. Donges has found full play for his abilities and activities. His professional work, being extensive and important, has absorbed most of his energies and time, but Mr.… Read more: South Jersey: A History – Raymond Donges
Rocco Palese, born on July 4, 1893, in Garaguso, Italy, to Domenico and Luicia Palese, immigrated to America with his family in 1898, settling in Camden by 1906. Domenico Palese initially worked as a bartender, and the family resided at 318 Cherry Street. By 1910, they had moved to 266 Pine Street, where Domenico owned… Read more: Rocco Palese
Colonel William B. Hatch, born to William and Catherine Browning Hatch around 1838 in Camden, NJ, was part of Gloucester County during that era. His father, a farmer, lived in Camden’s North Ward. Colonel Hatch’s military journey began as a soldier of fortune, serving in the cavalry of the Russian Imperial Army in 1859 and… Read more: William B. Hatch
Richard Fetters, a prominent figure in Camden for numerous years, came into the world on January 19, 1791, predating the establishment of Camden itself. As a Quaker, Fetters played a pivotal role in the movement leading to Camden’s incorporation in 1828, showcasing political and civic leadership well ahead of his era, driven by a commitment… Read more: Richard Fetters
Raymond Renaud Donges, born on November 10, 1871, in Donaldson, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, was the son of Dr. John W. and Rose M. (Renaud) Donges. In addition to Raymond, his family included two brothers, Clarence Donges, who, like his father, served as a physician in Camden for many years, and Ralph Waldo Emerson Donges. Both… Read more: Raymond R. Donges
Sergeant Raymond F. Smith, born Lucius Raymond Smith on June 6, 1895, led a remarkable life marked by his contributions to the military, professional boxing, civic engagements, and charitable endeavors. Enlisting in the United States Army at a young age of 17, Sergeant Ray Smith served in Mexico as part of General Pershing’s expedition in… Read more: Raymond F. Smith
Johnny Lucas, often lauded as “The Pride of Whitman Park,” emerged as one of the notable lightweight and welterweight boxers from Camden during the 1920s and 1930s. While boxing records suggest a birthdate of January 1, 1912, this remains unconfirmed. One of Johnny Lucas’ notable moments in the ring occurred on February 3, 1933, when… Read more: Johnny Lucas
John W. Sutton had two distinct stints of service with the Camden Fire Department while concurrently managing and owning bars in Camden for nearly five decades. Born John W. Suthel around 1848 in Delaware to John and Welty Suthel, he relocated to Camden, New Jersey, with his family, including older sister Martha and older brother… Read more: John W. Sutton
Fiore Troncone, born around 1874 in Italy to Antonio and Rafaella Troncone, embarked on the journey to America with his family in 1885. After a period in Pennsylvania, where sons Anthony and William were born, the Troncone family made their way to Camden, NJ, shortly after 1900. By 1910, Fiore Troncone and his wife, Carmela,… Read more: Fiore Troncone
James Court, a brief thoroughfare extending east from 114 Point Street between Pearl and Birch Street, featured merely six houses, all situated on the north side of the street. Documented in the 1863-1864 City Directory, James Court continued to be referenced until the 1919 Camden City Directory. However, by 1920, any mention of the street… Read more: James Court
Samuel Patton stood among the original members of the Camden Fire Department, commencing his service on December 7, 1869, assuming the role of an extra man with Engine Company 2. Prior to joining the fire department, he had been employed as a laborer. At the time of his enlistment in the fall of 1869, he… Read more: Samuel Patton
Samuel S. Elfreth came into the world on August 13, 1845, born at 109 North 2nd Street in Camden, NJ, into the family of Samuel D. and Martha Elfreth. Positioned as the middle son between Jeremiah and Charles Elfreth, his father’s thriving blacksmithing business in Camden and volunteer role with the Perseverance Fire Company in… Read more: Samuel S. Elfreth