F. Surault was born in Massachusetts in August of 1838 to
Francois and Sarah Surault. The family had come to Camden by
1860. The Census shows them living in Camden's Middle Ward,
where Francis Surault, born in France, was a language teacher,
and had written and published a number of books on the subject.
Henry Surault worked as a silver plater.
April 25, 1861 Henry F. Surault enlisted in the Union Army as a
Corporal. He was assigned to Company G, Fourth Infantry
Regiment New Jersey on April 27, 1861.
Fourth Regiment--Militia, was commanded by Colonel Matthew Miller, Jr.,
serving under him were Lieutenant Colonel Simpson R. Stroud and Major
Robert C. Johnson. This regiment was mustered into the U. S. service at
Trenton, April 27, 1861, to serve for three months, and left the
state for Washington, D. C., on May 3, with 37 commissioned
officers and 743 non-commissioned officers and privates, a total of 777.
On the evening of May 5 it reached the capital, and on the 9th it was
ordered to go into camp at Meridian hill, where, within a few days the
entire brigade was encamped, and where, on the 12th, it was honored
by a visit from the president, who warmly complimented the
appearance of the troops. On the evening of May 23 it joined the
2nd and 3d regiments and about midnight took up the line of march
in silence for the bridge that spanned the Potomac. This bridge was
crossed at 2 o'clock on the morning of the 24th, the 2nd was posted
at Roach's spring, and the 3d and 4th about half a mile beyond on the
road. On July 16, a guard was detailed from the 4th for a section
of the Orange & Alexandria railroad, which it was important to
hold; one company from the regiment guarded the Long bridge; still
another was on duty at Arlington mills; and the remainder of the
regiment, together with the 2nd, was ordered to proceed to
Alexandria. On July 24, the term of service having expired, the 4th
returned to New Jersey and was mustered out at Trenton, July 31, 1861. The total strength of the
regiment was 783, and it lost by discharge 6, by promotion 2, by
death 2 and by desertion 7, mustered out, 766.
Henry F. Surault was among those who mustered out with Company G,
Fourth Infantry Regiment
New Jersey on July 31, 1861 at Trenton, NJ.
men who served with Company G became members of the Camden Fire
Department after it was founded in 1869, including William
Mines, J. Kelly
Cavanaugh, Edward Mead, William
Cox, James M. Lane, and William Gleason. Other Fourth Infantry
men who served included Theodore A.
Zimmerman, Charles G.
Zimmerman, William C.
Lee, George B. Anderson, Jesse
William 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
they hadn't already been involved, Henry Surault and several of
his companions became involved in volunteer firefighting in
On September 2, 1869 City Council enacted a municipal
ordinance creating a paid fire department. It provided for the annual
appointment of five Fire Commissioners, one Chief Marshal (Chief of
and two Assistant Marshals. The City was also divided into two fire
districts. The boundary line ran east and west, starting at Bridge
Avenue and following the tracks of the Camden and Amboy Railroad to
the city limits. District 1 was south of this line and District 2 was
north. The commissioners also appointed the firemen who were
scheduled to work six 24 hour tours per week. William
Abels, from the
Weccacoe Hose Company No. 2 was appointed Chief Marshal with William
W. Mines, from the Independence Fire Company No. 3 as Assistant Marshal
for the 1st District, and William H. Shearman as the Assistant Marshal
for the 2nd District. Abels
had served with the volunteer fire
departments of Philadelphia, Mobile, Alabama and Camden for sixteen
years prior to his appointment as Chief of the paid force.
the 1870 Census was taken, Henry Surault was working as a
salesman. He was married, and his wife Merinda had a son from a
previous marriage, William H. Brassell, born in Pennsylvania
around 1854. They were living with his parents at 549 South 2nd
Street. The Suraults lived next door to Claudius Bradshaw, and
three doors away from Abraham Bradshaw. Claudius Bradshaw would
serve as the Chief of the Camden Fire Department before the
decade ended, and was elected Mayor of Camden twice after that.
Abraham Bradshaw was one of the original members of the Camden
Fire Department, serving with Engine Company 2.
Abels was replaced by Robert S. Bender as Chief of the Fire
Department on September 2, 1871. When Bender took a
leave of absence in September of 1872, despite a petition for him to be
kept on as chief, Henry F. Surault was
elected by city council to
lead the department. Patrick Gallagher and Isaac
McKinley were appointed Assistant Chiefs, replacing
Assistant Chiefs William
W. Mines and William H. Shearman. A greater crisis occurred on October 8, 1872
when most of the regular members members of Engine Company 2
resigned at once. Replacements were found quickly, although in a
few cases the first ones brought in did not work out and another
man was needed to replace the original replacement. John
J. Olden was also brought in as Assistant Chief of the Second Fire
District in November, replacing Patrick Gallagher.
a positive note, during his time in the Department Henry F. Surault
convinced the Fire Commission to purchase hand extinguishers
which he then placed strategically at Mr. Paul Anderson's,
Broadway and Kaighns Point Avenue; J.S. Henry’s office at Eighth
Streets; William Ross' store on Central
Avenue; and at the Flat
Iron Tavern (and Hotel) at Broadway
Avenue. Each location received one fire extinguisher.
Camden Fire Department fought a devastating fire which began on
the Morning of February 24, 1873 when a railroad employee
dropped a match in the inspector's room of a railway building on
South 2nd Street below Bridge Avenue. Within minutes the oil
soaked floor ignited and flames engulfed the structure. Strong
northwest winds extended the fire to a storage shed filled with
freight. Responding fire companies could not stop the rapidly
spreading fire. Five frame dwellings on the north side of
Weathersby's Court, some sheds in the railroad car yard, three
frame dwellings on Reed's Court, two additional dwellings and
numerous outbuildings became involved. Chief Surault telegraphed
to Philadelphia for six engine companies which responded by
special ferry. Three apparatus were placed in service while the
balance of the manpower was used for fire control.
S. Bender returned to the Camden Fire Department in April of
1873. seven experienced men who had resigned were reappointed on
April 8, 1873 - Engineers G. Rudolph Tenner and William S.
Davis, Stokers Henry Grosscup and William Gordon, Drivers George
Leibecke and Jacob Kellum, and Tillerman Edward Dodamead.
Another driver, William Young, also began that day.
1878 City Directory shows Henry Surault working as a laborer.
The 1879-1880 Directory indicates that he took another career
path as he was working aboard ship as a deck hand. He was still
living at 549 South 2nd Street when the 1879 Directory was
Cenus shows Henry Surault and family at 547 South 2nd Street. He
was then working as a laborer. Also at home were his widowed
mother Sarah, wife Merinda, step-son William H. Brassell, 16,
and a boarder, Thomas McCann, 17.
1881-1882 Directory shows Henry Surrault and step-son William,
who had taken the Surrault name, as deck hands, living at 412
Mickle Street. Henry Surault was still at 412 Mickle Street in
the 1882-1883 Directory. William had moved to 443 South 2nd
Street and was working as a laborer. The 1883-1884 Directory has
both men living at 412 Mickle Street once again. Henry F.
Surault is now listed as a Captain, working for the Pennsylvania
Railroad. Later directories indicate that he was the captain of
one of the Pennsylvania Rail Road's tug boats. William Surault
left Camden by 1887. Henry Surault was still living at 412
Mickle Street as late as 1888.
1890-1891 Directory shows that Henry Surault had moved to 546
South 2nd Street. he was still working as a tugboat captain, and
also had a cigar store. The cigar store venture did not pan out,
however. By 1892 Henry Surault had moved to 450 South 2nd Street
and was working exclusively as a tugboat captain for the
Pennsylvania Railroad. He was still at that address into late
1893. The 1897 Directory shows Henry Surault at 301 Stevens
Street. The 1898 Directory states that he lived at 754 Federal
1900 Census shows Henry Surault still employed as a tugboat
pilot. He was by then a widower, and was boarding with James
Finnan, a telegraph lineman, and his wife Mary. James Finnan had
lived in the same neighborhood as Henry Surault for many years.
1906 Henry Surault and the Finnans had left Camden. The Finnans
had moved to Fieldsboro, in Burlington County, New Jersey. Henry
Surault went with them, and boarded with them. The
Census for 1910 lists the Finnans and Henry Surault in
Fieldsboro. The 1920 Census shows that James Finnan had passed
away. His widow, Mrs. Mary Finnan, and Henry Surault, then 81
years of age, were living in Finnan's Court in Fieldsboro. Both
apparently passed away during the 1920s.
F. Surault was buried at Old Camden Cemetery. His tombstone
recognizes his Civil War service, unfortuantely, it is undated.