John
A.
Stockton


JOHN A. STOCKTON was born in New Jersey around 1853 to Richard and Deborah Stockton. The family was living in Camden's Middle Ward in 1870. Richard Stockton earned his living as a carpenter. Also at home were older sister Sarah Frances and older brother Arthur Stockton.

John A. Stockton appears in the 1880 Census living with his wife Ruth, sister Sarah, and brother Arthur at the home of his widowed father, 538 South 5th Street in South Camden. This would be his home until his passing in 1927. John Stockton and his brother worked as milk dealers. Ruth Stockton bore a son, A son, Frank, in November of 1882.

At a special meeting of the City's Fire Committee held on July 7, 1885 the fire department was reorganized. Each engine company added a permanent foreman and two hosemen; the ladder company added two 

laddermen for a total of eight new full-time firemen.The new foremen were John Stockton, Engine Company 1 and Henry Grosscup, Engine Company 2. The reorganization became effective on August 1st and the foremen were given charge of their respective units at an annual salary of $720 

In 1886 the Camden Steam Fire Engine Company Number 1 was located at 409 Pine Street in a three story 20 by 90 foot brick building (the old Independence Fire Company No. 3 engine house). The company's apparatus was an Amoskeag second class steamer (maker's plate 6318) drawn by two horses and one Silsby two wheel hose cart drawn by a single horse. The company was equipped with 1000 feet of good hose, axes, lamps, etc. The company roster included John Stockton, Foreman; G. Rudolph Tenner, Engineer; William Deno, driver; William W. Laird, stoker; Wilson Bromley and Jacob F Nessen, hosemen. Call Men were William Deith, Andrew Miller and William Bogia. Bromley and Bogia would later suffer line of duty deaths.

John A. Stockton appears in Camden' city directories as living at 538 South 5th Street, the corner of South 5th and Royden Streets, in 1887. In the mid-1890s he also partnered with Harry Frebe in a cigar store at 539 South 5th Street. Sometime between 1906 and April of 1910 his son, Frank Stockton, had joined him as a member of the Camden Fire Department. It appears, however, that Frank Stockton had passed away prior to the compilation of the 1914 Camden City Directory. 

John A. Stockton was serving as Deputy Chief of the Camden Fire Department in May of 1914 after Chief Charles Worthington was killed in the line duty while fighting a fire at  the the Camden Electroplating Company at Delaware Avenue and George Street, near the Pennsylvania Railroad Ferry in the center of Camden.  Chief of Department Worthington was one of the first units to arrive at the scene and observed heavy fire conditions on the top floor of the two-story building. Chief Worthington ordered an exterior attack from the roof area through large skylight openings. This operation was made particularly arduous by heavy smoke. The fire extended from the plating company at 12 George Street, to involve the New Jersey Automobile Supply Company car dealership at 38 Delaware Avenue. 

On the roof, Chief Worthington conversed with Deputy Chief John A. Stockton and Captain Madison of Engine Company 5. Chief Worthington directed Stockton to go down to the street, transmit a second alarm, and also have an engine company stretch a line up the alley. Chief Worthington then left the men and proceeded along the roof to the south side of the building where he was last seen. When Stockton brought the hose team up the alleyway, he found the unconscious Chief laying next to the building. Chief Worthington had apparently stepped back on the roof to avoid a skylight and fell into a shaft between two buildings. The Chief had landed on a pile of scrap iron which inflicted serious wounds including a deep gash on his neck. Deputy Chief Stockton and Police Chief Elias Gravenor assisted firemen in removing Chief Worthington from the alley where he was rushed to Cooper Hospital. He was pronounced dead on arrival with a broken neck and fractured skull. 

In the wake of Chief Worthington's death, John A. Stockton was appointed Chief of the Camden Fire Department in May of 1914. While serving in this capacity, there was one major conflagration in the city of Camden.  

The Munger & Bennett Mill fire was discovered shortly before 6:00 PM on November 12, 1914, in the big planing mill near the pier at Delaware Avenue and Clinton Streets, South Camden. This incident was one of the most spectacular fires in years, destroying a large section of the lumber yard extending to three warehouses of the West Jersey Paper Company and the tramway of the Philadelphia steel and wire plant. High winds from the river fanned the fire and quickly drove the flames into the big lumber the big lumber piles in the yard. A telephone alarm was received at Fire Headquarters and upon his arrival. Chief Stockton transmitted four alarms in rapid succession, plus additional calls for mutual aid. Companies arriving on Greater Alarms were hampered by the closing of Delaware Avenue for repaving. Apparatus had to be placed two and three blocks from the fire necessitating long and arduous stretches of hoseline. At the height of the blaze it appeared that several big factory complexes in the area were doomed, as over one million board feet of finished lumber produced a roaring inferno. Industrial fire brigades from the nearby Victor Talking Machine, Camden Lace, and David Baird Spar Yards were pressed into service to assist the Department in conjunction with at least four tug boats that fought the fire from the river anchorage. The tugs were credited in saving thousands of dollars of property. The estimated loss exceeded $150,000 and resulted in injuries to one civilian and seven firemen. 

On July 29th of 1915, after a career that spanned four decades, Chief John A. Stockton announced his retirement, effective October 1st. He was succeeded as Chief by Peter B. Carter

John and Ruth Stockton were both still living at 538 South 5th Street in January of 1920. Chief Stockton died in 1927. His wife continued to reside at the home on South 5th Street until her passing in February of 1938.


Philadelphia Inquirer * April 21, 1885


Philadelphia Inquirer * September 3, 1887


Philadelphia Inquirer
June 12, 1890

W.B.E. Miller - E.E. Jefferis
Samuel Dodd - Jesse Pratt 
Jennings' Sixth Regiment Band
Robert Bender - Samuel S. Buzine
John A. Stockton - Henry Grosscup
Mortimer WIlson - Amedee Middleton
Thomas Murphy -
Isaac McKinley
Albert Gilbert - Chalkley Leconey
Engine Company 1 - Engine Company 2
Engine Company 3 - Engine Company 4

Click on Images for Complete Article

 

Philadelphia Inquirer * March 15, 1904

Philip Schmitz - Robert Wieshing - Harry Martin - Frank Stockton
 
John A. Stockton - South 3rd  Street - Kaighn Avenue


Philadelphia Inquirer * January 25, 1905

Joseph Benny - John A. Stockton - Pine Street


Philadelphia Inquirer * June 17, 1906

Henry Grosscup - George P. Cox - Walter Browning - John A. Stockton Samuel S. Elfreth


Philadelphia Inquirer - November 13, 1910
...continued...
F. Morse Archer - George V. Murry - Martin Carrigan - Joseph Sparks - John Stockton
Charles D. Crane - Joseph Wagner - Daniel J. Hilland 

Philadelphia Inquirer - July 17, 1911

John Stockton - Harvey G. Watts - William Laird - Ernest A. Fryer
South 6th Street - Berkley Street


CAMDEN POST-TELEGRAM - May 10, 1914

THOUSANDS VIEW CHIEF’S REMAINS
Throngs Jam Court House While Body Lies in State for Two Hours.

LAST SAD RITES THIS AFTERNOON

Not since the memorable funeral of Chief of Police Foster ten years ago, has there been such a genuine public tribute paid an official of Camden as was in evidence last night at the bier of the lamented Fire Chief Worthington, and today at his funeral. It is hard to estimate the number of persons in a crowd, but from 7 until 9 o’clock last night there was a steady stream of men, women and children, two abreast, who passed from the main entrance, through the center corridor and beneath the illuminated rotunda, where the body lay, and thence out by the west corridor. There was never a stop, and it is estimated that at least 10,000 persons were there, perhaps more.

There could not have been a more ideal location for the repose of the casket containing the honored dead, and the great array of beautiful flowers than beneath the rotunda. It seemed to be a sacred shrine in itself where the citizenry dropped a tear for the lamented departed. The effulgence of the soft lights from above specially installed by Electrical Chief Kelly but lent to the scene and as the dark garbed escort of firemen, the active pall bearers, stood, on guard, the scene was unusually impressive.

Chief Worthington, aside from the pallor that comes to the dead, looked as he did in life, for the thread had been snapped so quickly that it was while he was in his full vigor that the vital spark had taken its flight. There were some marks on his face that indicated the intense though momentary suffering through which he passed on his fateful plunge from the roof of the burning building to his quick death, and the passing crowd remarked this. But withal there was that calmness and repose feature which seemed to indicate that the gallant leader of Camden's fire fighters but lay sleeping rather than that his soul had taken its eternal flight.

Public grief may be a mere ephemeral emotion, born of the moment and only to be succeeded by the acclaim of the newly arisen public idol, but last night's encomiums seemed to come from hearts that overflowed with genuine and permanent sorrow over the untimely passing of so excellent a public servant. Many tear-suffused eyes indicated this, many expressions of grief, of sorrow, of condolence of those left showed this. The sentiment in evidence everywhere can only be likened to the sweetness of the wonderful flowers whose odor spread thorough all the corridors and in all the rooms of the great marble building. 

High in the clock tower of the City Hall the bell began tolling at 6:30 o'clock. At half-minute intervals its doleful strains went forth on the cold blustery east wind which had succeeded at day of spring sunshine. The bell and the screeching wind seemed to combine as a knell indicating the passing grief of the city. It was the preliminaries to the marching of the funeral cortege from the stricken Chief's home on Penn Street to the resting place at the Court House.

There were forty policemen in dress uniform with Chief Gravenor at their head. There were twenty-six fire heads from Philadelphia, with Chief William Murphy in the van, a tribute in itself of more than passing moment. There was the caisson on which was the black draped casket containing the body of he who all honored. There was the little red car in which Chief Worthington was wont to speed through the city at every alarm and there was his helmet and coat. There was Acting Chief Stockton and forty of the men who fought flames under the direction of he who lay so still. There as the family in cabs with curtains drawn, the members of City Council and the active pall bearers- Daniel Leach, Peter B. Carter, James White, William Patterson, Elmer Burkett, Samuel Harring

When the cortege reached the Court House the Camden boys took up their position on the inside beneath rotunda while the Philadelphia visitors made an imposing array on the granite steps outside. And then came the public in its steady and unending stream.

Later the Philadelphia delegation was escorted to the Board of Freeholders room where tribute was paid to the dead and where a mingling of the two cities took place. Besides Chief Murphy the visitors included Battalion Chiefs William T. Barrett and George P. McConaghy, Captains L. F. Bunting, William Lindsey; H. Dinlocker, J. Higginson, J. E. Talbot, D. Campbell, T. O'Brien, F. Hughes, E. Basenfelder; H. Hutt, William McCusker, G. Rheim, R. Wilsey, J. Webb, H. Goers, H. Haines, Insurance Patrol Captain Joseph H. Shermer William Hickman, William Rodgers, John Wyatt, David Phillip, John Clyde, H. Wilkinson.

President of City Council James E. Hewitt spoke of the work Chief Worthington had already accomplished, of his plans, of his value and worth to Camden. Chief Murphy responded in a fitting way and this incident in itself was one to be remembered.

An affecting sight was witnessed by the handful of spectators, among them being other firemen, city and county officials and policemen who remained after the big doors on Sixth Street had been closed. The last to view the Chief's remains were a delegation of about twenty firemen. Solemnly the men passed by the bier and gazed upon the features of their departed brother.

As the last of the line approached Deputy Chief John A. Stockton was seen. He stopped and with his cap laid across his breast be looked down into the casket. For almost a minute Chief Stockton stood as though glued to the spot. Then he glanced about him and the sympathetic look upon his face thrilled all.

He heaved a sigh and perhaps the teardrops refused to come, but Chief Stockton, as the lines upon his face showed, was struggling with the inner man. His emotions were tugging at his heart, but a fire laddie cannot give way to his feelings although his brother superior officer and dear friend had answered his last alarm.

The floral pieces surrounding the bier bespoke the love, admiration and respect the donors held for the dead chief. One design particularly beautiful was a mammoth loving cup made of blossoms, f1owers and roses. This was the token sent by members of City Council and other city officials.

Another was the design sent by the Electrical Bureau through Chief Kelly. The original fire box, No. 134, which was pulled on the night of the fire by Chief Worthington was enshrouded by roses, carnations and lilies.

A maltese cross standing several feet high and bearing the initials of the organization was the tribute sent by the Firemen's Mutual Benevolent Association. Chief Worthington was president of this association. 

The Camden police sent a large shield of flowers and Council members offered a vacant chair of roses. The New Jersey Auto Supply Company, No. 2 Engine Company and No. 1 Truck sent beautiful broken circles and a wreath was the offering from the employees of the Victor Talking Machine Company.

 A broken circle from member of the Sixth Ward Republican Club and a wreath from his friends in the sixth precinct of the Second Ward were other beautiful pieces. West Collingswood and Collingswood firemen sent two beautiful floral circles and from the Loyal Order Legion a wreath was received.

Other offerings were from the Camden Liquor Dealers league, a beautiful circle from No. 6 Engine Company, in which house Chief Worthington was captain previous to his elevation to the office of chief; sprays from the Bethany M.E. Church, Ladies Auxiliary of the Loyal Order of Moose; a wreath from the pupils of the eighth grade Sewell school, and a spray from North Baptist Church. There also were designs from members of the family and friends, all of which bespoke the great love held for the departed fire chief.

The impressive services of the P.E. Church marked the last sad rites this afternoon at St. Paul’s Church. The guard of honor and city officials left Fire Headquarters at 1:20 and proceeded to the Worthington home and escorted the remains to the church, where services were conducted by the rector, Rev. R.E. Brestell, and Rev. H.O. Jones, rector of St. Stephen’s P.E. Church. Interment was made at Arlington.

The honorary pallbearers were Mayor Ellis, Hon. David Baird, Frank F. Patterson, John W. Bell, General John A. Mather, Melbourne F. Middleton Jr., Harry R. Reed, Arthur L. Jones, Robert Gordon, David Jester, George Schneider, William Mills, J.O. Grear, William Hall, George L. Bender, and James E. Hewitt.



Philadelphia
Inquirer

May 28, 1914

John Stockton
Charles Worthington


Philadelphia Inquirer * June 26, 1914

Charles A. Worthington - John A. Stockton


Aide Fireman Martin Carrigan with Chief of Department John A. Stockton in 1913 Cadillac at Fire Headquarters, Fifth and Arch Streets.


Philadelphia Inquirer
June 27, 1914

John A. Stockton - Peter B. Carter
Charles Worthington - Samuel Whitezell
Charles Cook -
Engine Company 1


Philadelphia Inquirer - September 13, 1914


Philadelphia Inquirer - June 19, 1915


Philadelphia Inquirer
July 30, 1915

John Stockton - Peter B. Carter - Thomas J. Nicholas
William Patterson - Charles Cook - Walter Mertz
William Casson - Robert Whitley - T.G. Middleton
John H. Lennox - John A.S. Hunt -  George Cattell
Engine Company 3 - Engine Company 4
Walter W. Johnson - Walter W. Lee
Clarence Baler -
Walter Wolverton
Albert Denise - William Barr - Bowman H. Shivers

Click on Images for PDF File of Full Article


Philadelphia Inquirer - August 25, 1915
Caleb B. Williams - Royden Street - Rev. Dr. John Handley
Broadway Methodist Episcopal Church - Rev. J.H. Townsend
Rev, D.B. Green -
John A. Stockton - James E. Tatem
James E. Hewitt - Ralston Sickler - John Baker - Harry Dease
St. John's Episcopal Church

Philadelphia Inquirer - October 2, 1915
  John A. Stockton - Peter B. Carter - Thomas J. Nicholas
William Patterson - Walter W. Browning - George P. Cox
Engine Company 3  

Camden Courier-Post * February 1938

MRS. STOCKTON DIES, WIDOW OF FIRE CHIEF

Mrs. Ruth A. Stockton, 73, of 538 South Fifth Street, widow of the late Fire Chief John A. Stockton, died on Saturday.

Mrs. Stockton had lived at the Fifth Street address more than 40 years. Her husband died in 1927. Mrs. Stockton is survived by a brother, Edward Jordan, Camden, and a niece, Mrs. Ruth Pettit, Camden. She was a member of the Fourth Ward Women's Republican Club.

The funeral will be held at 2 p. m., Wednesday, at 453 South Sixth Street. Burial will be in Evergreen Cemetery.

RETURN TO CAMDEN'S INTERESTING PEOPLE PAGE

RETURN TO DVRBS.COM HOME PAGE