JOHN C. EDWARDS was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to James and Elizabeth Edwards. Dates according to census records differ. The 1870 and 1880 Censuses state he was born in 1847, while the 1900 Census shows a birth date of May 1845, which on appearance seems to be correct. The family came to New Jersey in the 1850s and settled in Newton Township, most likely in the area which later comprised Camden's Seventh Ward, on or near Newton Avenue east of Broadway.

The 1860 Census shows John C. Edwards living with his mother Elizabeth and brother Henry in Newton Township, which was annexed to Camden the following year. Also living in the Edwards home was 65 year-old Mary Suling, who may have been Elizabeth Edwards' mother. At the time of the Census the Edwards family lived two doors away from the William Streeper family. William Streeper's son John W. Streeper, who was about the same age as John C. Edwards, later served as a member of the Camden Fire Department.

John C. Edward served as a member of the United States Marine Corps during the Civil War from June 5, 1863 to June 5, 1864. He returned to Camden upon receiving his discharge. The 1870 Census shows John C. Edwards living with his mother Elizabeth and brother Henry "Harry" Edwards in Camden's South Ward. Older brother James may have been killed at the battle of Antietam while fighting with the Union Army, however, the evidence is not conclusive.

Henry Edwards married Martha "Mattie" Myres in Camden at the Second Baptist Church by Reverend W.W. Dalby on December 31, 1872. Elizabeth Edwards died in 1873 and was buried at what is now called Old Camden Cemetery. On September 7, 1873 at the Second Baptist Church, Reverend Dalby married John C. Edwards to  Martha Ann Stillwell. Martha Ann bore their first child, son James, in 1874. 

The 1878-1879 Camden City Directory shows John C. Edwards living on French's Court and working as a laborer. The Directory for 1879-1880 lists him at 414 Liberty Street, working as an iron moulder. 

The Census of 1880 shows John C. Edwards and his wife Martha living at 600 Mount Vernon Street with their children James Simeon, John S., and Lydia Edwards. The family lived at 571 Mount Vernon Street from 1881 through 1885. When the 1887-1888 City Directory was published they had moved across the railroad tracks that ran down South 7th Street to a house at 815 Division Street, where they stayed until 1890. John C. Edwards worked at the Camden Iron Works during this time. He was active in politics in what was then Camden's Seventh Ward and served as an extra man with the Camden Fire Department in 1884 and 1885. He replaced Charles Alcott when appointed in 1884, and left when eighteen of the extra men were dropped when the Fire Department was reorganized on July 1, 1885.

John C. Edwards' brother Henry passed away in 1885. He was buried at Old Camden Cemetery with his mother.

Tragedy struck the Edwards family in 1886. Their home lay along the railroad tracks that ran down South 7th Street, and sadly, John S. Edwards, like so many boys his age, took the trains for granted. On the morning of September 8, 1886 he tried to race across the tracks at Walnut Street. He was struck by the train and thrown about ten feet from the crossing. He was carried to the butcher shop of Julius Bobst at 700 Walnut Street. Dr. William Warnock, who had his home and office at 751 Kaighn Avenue, was called for help, and found the boy badly hurt. Two hours later Dr. Dowling Benjamin performed an amputation on young Edwards' right foot. His injuries were so severe however that he passed away the following morning at 7:30 AM the following day. John S. Edwards was buried at Evergreen Cemetery.

John C. Edwards remained at 815 Division Street into 1890, when the 1890 Veterans census was enumerated. The 1890-1891 City Directory shows the family at 704 Cherry Street, and John C. Edwards was working as a laborer. The family moved to 631 Spruce Street in 1891, where they remained into 1896. The 1897 and 1898 Directories show the Edwards family at 738 Cherry Street. The 1899 Directory has them at 928 South 6th Street

When the 1900 Census was enumerated, John C. Edwards and family were living at 414 Evans Street in South Camden. Son James S. Edwards and his wife Emma were also living at that address. John C. Edwards was still working as an iron moulder, while his son worked as a machinist. The first grandchild, Lottie Edwards, was born later that year, three more were born during the ensuing decade, Russell, Lewis, and Bessie Edwards. By the end of 1901 John C. Edwards had moved to 424 South 7th Street.

On January 13, 1902 John C. Edwards, while working for the R.D. Wood & Sons Company at the Camden Iron Works, was killed in an industrial accident. The Philadelphia Inquirer and the West Jersey Press state that he was 56 years old at the time of his death, while the Camden Daily Courier reported his age as 51. John C. Edwards was buried by his son John S. Edwards at Evergreen Cemetery with his son. His wife Martha Ann joined them many years later.

Newspaper Articles - September 8, September 9, & September 11, 1886
Courtesy of Jim Bessing, the great-nephew of John S. Edwards

Philadelphia Inquirer
September 4, 1888


Thomas DudleyIsaac Shreeve - William T. Bailey - Christopher A. Bergen
Isaac Githens - George Barrett - Frank Welch -
Howland Croft - Samuel Bakley
David Freeman Sr. -
Albion Lane William Ireton - Howard Lee - Amos R. Dease
Christopher Mines Jr
. - John Brothers - James Hewitt - John C. Edwards
Malachi D. Cornish - J.Willard Somers - Frank C. Somers - John Wells - William H. Day
Dilwyn Pettit - J. Milton Powell - George Denny - Everett Ackley -
Samuel M. Gaul
Joseph Brown - Frederick Parker - John H. Milton - David Rankin - Samuel Roach
James Brown - Isaac Robinson - William K. Price - Reuben Gaskill
John W. Everman - Samuel H. Mourey - William H. Smith
Herman Heimbold - Thomas Watson - E. Thompson

Camden Daily Courier - January 13, 1902

Philadelphia Inquirer - January 15, 1902

Thanks to Jim Bessing, great-grandson of John C. Edwards, for his help in creating this page.