Cavanaugh was born in Camden's South Ward in December of 1851 to Matthew and Elizabeth
Cavanaugh. The Cavanaughs had started their family in Canada, where
older brother Benjamin
Cavanaugh was born in March of 1843. The 1850 Census indicates that the Cavanaughs had relocated
to Pennsylvania, where siblings John and Sarah were born, before coming
over to New Jersey. Sister Mary Cavanaugh was born in 1849. The 1850
shows the family living in Camden's South Ward. Two
more children had been born, sons Joseph and Matthew Jr., were born in
the early 1850s. The
1860 Census shows the family still living in Camden's South Ward.
the Civil War came, older brother Benjamin Cavanaugh
enlisted in the Union Army in April of 1861, serving with Company G, Fourth Infantry Regiment New
Jersey Militia, a three-months service unit. Several
men who served with the Fourth Infantry became members of the Camden Fire
Department after it was founded in 1869, including William
W. Mines, J.
Kelly Brown, Henry F.
Surault, Edward Mead, William
M. Lane, William Gleason,
A. Zimmerman, Charles
G. Zimmerman, William
C. Lee, George B.
H.H. Clark, Cornelius
M. Brown, John
J. Brown, Benjamin
Connelly, and G.
Rudolph Tenner. Several other Fourth Infantry veterans played
significant roles in Camden in the ensuing years.
they hadn't already been involved before going into the Army, Benjamin Cavanaugh
and several of his
companions became involved in volunteer firefighting in Camden after
the census was taken in 1870, Matthew Cavanaugh Sr. had passed away.
Mary Cavanaugh had married Christopher Mines
Jr., who would go on to a
long and distinguished career in Camden politics and government. Mines'
Mines, was an Assistant Fire Marshal with the Camden Fire
Department, and had served with Benjamin Cavanaugh
during the Civil War.
He may well have been instrumental in securing Cavanaugh's appointment
to the Fire Department. Cavanaugh's widowed mother, Mary Cavanaugh, with
her sons John and Matthew, lived with
Christopher and Mary Mines, and
their 10-month old son, Marcus
K. Mines, according to the census sheet, which was taken by J.
Kelly Brown, another Civil War comrade AND member of the Camden Fire
Department. (Note: As of February 4, 2011, Joseph and Benjamin
census records have not been located- PMC).
Fire Department records do not show where Joseph Cavanaugh was living
when he was appointed in September of 1878. The 1878-1879 City Directory
shows that he was living at 265
Pine Street, the home of
his brother-in-law Christopher Mines Jr., as was his brother John and
widowed mother Elizabeth. Aside from his work with the Fire Department,
Joseph Cavanaugh was employed as a printer throughout his working
the 1880 Census was taken, John Cavanaugh had moved out of the Mines'
home at 265
and brother Benjamin Cavanaugh
had moved in. The Census shows that Elizabeth Cavanaugh and Joseph
Cavanaugh were still living there, and that Joseph
Cavanaugh was at that time laid up with a broken leg.
Cavanaugh does not appear in the 1881-1882 City Directory. He was
working as a printer in Philadelphia an boarding at 522 Spruce Street
when the 1882-1883 Directory was compiled. From 1882 through 1888 he
lived with his brother Benjamin at 279 Liberty
Street. The 1890-1891 Directories show the Cavanaugh brothers at
2nd Street. The 1891-1892 Directory states that the Cavanaugh
brothers had both "removed to
Cavanaugh returned to Camden by the time that the 1892-1893
Directory was being compiled. He was living at 815 South
6th Street with a woman named Emma. Joseph Cavanugh appears to have
remained in Philadelphia until 1894, as the 1894-1895 City Directory
shows him living there as well.
Cavanaugh does not appear in Camden City Directories again until 1898.
He was then living at 106 Kaighn
Avenue, still working in Philadelphia
as a printer.
1899 City Directory shows Joseph Cavanaugh living with Benjamin and Emma
Cavanaugh at 405 Division
Street. Both brothers were living at 230 Division
Street by the following year.
Cavanaugh had himself never married. The
1900 Census has both Joseph and Benjamin
Cavanaugh boarding at 230 Division
home of Emma Clare. It is likely that Benjamin had been living with Emma
as man and wife for several years prior to the Census, i.e., the Emma in the City
Directory and the Emma in the Census were one and the same person. The
census made no allowances for unmarried couples, a member of the
opposite sex who was living with whomever was the head of household was
considered a "boarder" and was assumed to be renting a room
there. The 1900 Census states that Benjamin Cavanaugh single. The 1900
Census also shows that Joseph Cavanaugh was still working in the
printing industry, by this time as a compositor.
Cavanaugh died on August 26, 1901. Things did not go well for Benjamin Cavanaugh in the
The 1910 Census shows Benjamin Cavanaugh as an inmate at the Camden County
Almshouse in Gloucester Township. Benjamin
Cavanaugh did not, however, end his days in the Almshouse. He was making
his home at 234 Clinton
Street in South Camden when he died in November of 1911 from
"paralysis", most likely a stroke. He was buried on November
7, 1911 in the Soldiers Plot at New Camden Cemetery.