Joseph E. Nowrey


Joseph E. Nowrey, born in 1865 in Glendon, Pennsylvania, played a significant role in Camden, New Jersey’s history. His father, Alexander Nowrey, established a dry goods business at 842 Locust Street in Camden before passing away in 1877. Joseph’s mother, Mary, continued running the business after Alexander’s death.

Joseph Nowrey’s early career included working as a machinist for a dredging company between 1887 and 1891, during which time he resided at the same address as the family business. By 1900, the Nowrey family had moved to 939 South 4th Street in Camden. This neighborhood included other notable residents like shoe merchant Henry Kobus and blacksmith Thomas Daley.

Nowrey’s political career in Camden was noteworthy. He served as police recorder before becoming mayor from 1902 to 1905, succeeding Charles Ellis. His election victory in 1901 was by a narrow margin, making him the only Democrat to hold the mayor’s office in Camden until 1923. He also served as the Sheriff of Camden County from 1911 to 1914. Known as “Honest Joe,” he was involved in several fraternal organizations, including the Modern Woodmen of America and the Improved Order of Red Men, serving in high-ranking positions within these groups.

However, Nowrey’s tenure as mayor was not without controversy. He attempted to implement changes to laws and policies set by previous Republican administrations, leading to feuds within his party, particularly with fellow Democrat William J. Thompson. His refusal to sign off on a significant school bond and attempts to dissolve the Board of Education led to legal challenges and criticism in the press. His political ambitions extended to a gubernatorial bid in 1904, which was unsuccessful.

In his personal life, the 1910 census records Nowrey as a real estate professional, and by 1920, he was in the construction business. He retired by 1930 but remained active in Democratic party affairs into the 1930s.

Joseph E. Nowrey Sr. passed away in 1937 and was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Camden, alongside his parents. His wife, Mary, passed away in 1950 and was buried beside him. His extended family included his great-nephew, PFC John A. Nowrey, who was killed in action during World War II, and his brother George, who passed away in 1938.


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