Augustus
Reeve


 

AUGUSTUS REEVE was born in Alloway, Salem County NJ in 1833. He came to Camden in 1866 and purchased the Pea Shore Brick Works, along the banks of the Delaware River north of Camden. He built it into a owned a large brick and terra cottas manufacturing business, and renamed it the Pea Shore Brick and Terra Cotta Works, with offices and a warehouse at 31 Market Street in Camden. 

Augustus Reeve was followed to Camden by his brother, Richard H. Reeve and cousin Benjamin H. Reeve, who, in 1868 started a floor oil cloth manufacturing business in Camden. The two cousins also achieved great success in Camden. 

Augustus Reeve was one of the original trustees of Cooper Hospital when it was organized in 1875, and was elected President of the Board of Managers upon the death of its first president, Alexander Cooper. Augustus Reeve served for twenty-five years as the hospital's President. Richard H. Reeve served as the Secretary and Treasurer during this period.

In March of 1890 Augustus Reeve purchased 12.41 acres along the Moorestown & Camden Turnpike (present day Main Street) near the Iron Bridge over Pennsauken Creek in Chester Township, present-day Maple Shade NJ. He established a brickworks there as well. This brick business was known as the Maple Shade Brickworks, and was later was operated by William Graham as part of the Graham Brick Yard. The brick-making industry kept a presence in Maple Shade until the area's clay ran out in 1956.

Augustus Reeve made his home at 301 State Street, in North Camden. Well respected in all affairs of business, he was appointed as receiver in April of 1904 of the Tradesman Building and Loan Association of Camden, when that institution was declared bankrupt. 

While the book SPAN OF A CENTURY 1828-1928: 100 YEARS IN THE HISTORY OF CAMDEN AS A CITY reports that Augustus Reeve died on July 19, 1918 at the age of 85, he is listed in the January 1920 Census as living at 301 State Street. His son William F. Reeve and daughters Elizabeth and Laura were also residing there. William Reeve was the managing the brick works. By 1922 William and Elizabeth had moved to Moorestown. When Laura Reeve departed the family sold the house. By January of 1928 the old Reeve mansion  had been abandoned, vandalized, and had become a haven for burglars and other miscreants. 


BIOGRAPHICAL REVIEW - 1897


1883-1884
Camden City Directory Advertisement


Philadelphia Inquirer
February 9, 1917

Temple Building - Augustus Reeve
Robert Patterson Finley - N.F. Thompson
Joseph Kobus - Mary Walsh Kobus 
Walter Tushingham - A.W. Atkinson
Dr. Walter H. Smith - Miss Elizabeth Reed
YMCA


Camden Courier-Post - January 26, 1928

ROBBERIES LAID TO OLD MANSION AS THIEVES DEN
Marauders Declared Using Former Reeves Home on State St. as Lair
POLICE TELL VICTIMS TO KEEP THEFTS QUIET
Aroused Householders Threaten to Act As Own Cops

Failure of city officials to heed repeated complaints that a deserted and dilapidated mansion at Third and State Streets is a ‘rendezvous of thieves, a haven for spooners, and a general nightmare” was blamed today by residents of that neighborhood for three robberies in one State Street block in two weeks.

Complaining residents declared today that they have appealed to officials for help without avail. They said that the former palatial residence of the late Augustus Reeve, brick manufacturer, has been a ‘den of thieves for some time. The police have been apprised of the situation, they reported, but have done nothing except “promise to investigate”.

Police have made public no reports of the three robberies that have occurred in the one block in two weeks. The victims themselves said today that city detectives told them “to keep quiet,” as release of any information might interfere with the arrest of a certain young man under suspicion in their own neighborhood.

The first robbery occurred at the home of Mr. and Mrs. George T. Moore, 313 State Street, on January 7. The Moore home is next to the broken down mansion and only a few feet away. Thieves, watching from the deserted house, whose side windows face those of the Moore residence, ransacked the dwelling after the family left that night for dinner at the home of friends. Entrance was gained by jimmying a side window, and money, jewelry, and two overcoats belonging to Mrs. Moore’s son, produce salesman, were stolen.

Rob Bonstedt Home

A second robbery occurred six days later on January 13, at the home of W.G Bonstedt,327 State Street, a few doors from the Moore home. The third was at 302 State Street, January 21. In the family’s absence, $250 and a number of silk dresses were stolen. This house is directly opposite the Reeve property.

“It was from the deserted old mansion, next door to us, that the thieves watched our movements and waited until we had left the house”, said Mrs. Moore today, “Them, when they saw we would be away for the night, they broke in and robbed us. It was the same case with the other two robberies in the block. The burglars could see when the families were leaving the house- they had a good view from their hiding place. Having no police protection, the owners of the ransacked houses were at their mercy.”

Moore said police have been told “time and again” that the abandoned mansion at the corner is a “public nuisance,” and that “it is frequented by thieves, spooners, and tramps.” He said the condition has existed since relatives of the late brick manufacturer moved out of the place five years ago, but city officials have ignored all complaints made by residents of the neighborhood. The place was sold to other parties and a “for rent” sign had been on it for a long period.

Declared a Menace

“Not only do thieves and other undesirables make their rendezvous there, but the property is used for immoral purposes” Moore asserted. “It is one of the worst menaces in the city, both from a sanitary and a moral standpoint. Women—except the class that has gone there to spoon— fear to go near the place by night, and the neighborhood in general has suffered considerably because city officials have failed to take steps to have the nui­sance eliminated. It is a disgraceful condition, and the authorities should see to it that the owners be compelled to board up the property at once. Otherwise it will continue to strike terror in the hearts of the residents of the neighborhood, many of whom express the fear that unless something is done before long, more robberies might occur, or the old building might go up in flames and perhaps damage theirs and other property nearby.”

Moore declared that increasing robberies in the neighborhood might have been averted had the police been more alert,

“Laxity of the Camden police department in giving residents of our neighborhood adequate protection was plainly evident in the three robberies in the one block in two weeks,” Moore said. “I have not seen one policeman near my home for more than a year, neither morning, noon, or night. I understand, however, that two or three members of the force live in this very neighborhood, and that one of them passes the old mansion every day. Why they, or the men assigned to this beat, have not had their superiors take some action on the corner property I cannot understand .

To Be Own Policemen

“As for myself, I will  shoot the first man to make another attempt to burglarize our home. If the police won’t help us, I suppose the best thing we can do is to be our own policemen and protect ourselves.

Similar complaints were made by other residents of the neighborhood who requested that their names be withheld, as they feared political reprisals and in one case loss of business, if it were known that they criticized any of the city officials.

In the meantime, a number of those interviews reported that plans are being made for the circulation of a petition, to be presented to the city commissioners, requesting them to take steps to have the abandoned mansion- which they termed a “nightmare” ”—locked against invasion by the thieves and other undesirables who have been making the ramshackle building their rendezvous.

The property is directly across from the James N. Cassady School, and part of its exterior d covered with theater posters.

The building to which the Cassady School pupils allude as “the haunted house,” in the time of its occupancy by the Reeves was the center of many noted social gatherings. Most of its windows have been broken by boys and other marauders have torn away the staircase and ripped the plaster from its walls.

Surviving members of the Reeve family, who had lived there, left the mansion after Mr. Reeve died; and the place has been gradually falling to ruin since. According to residents of the neighborhood, it is today not only a menace, but “one of the city’s worst eyesores”.  


Thanks to Dennis Weaver for information concerning Augustus Reeve's Maple Shade connection. 

den's Maple Shade History Website


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