JOSEPH A. ALCORN was born in Camden, New Jersey in February of 1919 to Mary and William Alcorn. He was the youngest of eight children, coming after James G., William Joseph, Rose, Marie Frances, Thomas J., Genevieve, and Rita. The family came to Camden some time after 1914. By 1918 they had settled at 906 North 9th Street in North Camden, near the Highland woolen mills at North 10th and State Streets. William Alcorn was a foreman at the mill, and his two oldest sons also worked their when they became of age.
The Alcorn family was still living at that address when the 1927 Camden City Directory was compiled. By the time the 1929 edition was published Joseph Alcorn's father, William Alcorn, had passed away. Mary Alcorn and her family moved to 830 Grant Street, where they remained through April of 1930. The family had moved to 828 Grant Street by August of 1934 when sadly, Marie Frances Alcorn passed away. Tragedy struck again in September of 1937 when Thomas J. Alcorn died. The family was then living at 918 North 8th Street in North Camden and remained at that address until 1940.
Joseph Alcorn married Mary Ann McCollum in the late 1930s. She wasn't the girl next door, but she certainly was the girl in the next block as her parents, Mr. & Mrs. Joseph McCollum, had a corner grocery at 837 North Eight Street. A son, Joseph A. Alcorn Jr, was born in March of 1940, and another boy, William F., was born in August of 1941. The 1943 Camden City Directory shows Joseph Alcorn living at 810 Grant Street in North Camden. His mother and sister Genevieve were also living at that address when the Directory was compiled. Joseph Alcorn was then working as a joiner at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. From there he went into the United States Marine Corps. He was discharged shortly after the birth of his third child, daughter Ruth Mary Alcorn, in September of 1943. Joseph Alcorn returned to Camden and moved his family to 404 Dudley Street in Camden's Westfield Acres public housing project. The directory also shows that he and William Gardner had founded a used car business, Alcorn Motor Sales, at 1528-1530 Federal Street in East Camden. The business flourished and was a fixture on Federal Street into the late 1950s.
With his business prospering, Joseph Alcorn and his family moved to 5036 Witherspoon Avenue in Pennsauken, New Jersey in the summer of 1949. Good fortune continued to smile upon the Alcorn family, and in a short time they had moved to 500 West Drive in Westmont (Haddon Township), New Jersey, a hort walk away from the county park along the Cooper River. Sadly, like his older brother and sister and three of his other siblings, Joseph A. Alcorn passed away long before his time, on July 1, 1958, leaving his wife and three children. He was only 39 years old at the time. He was buried at Calvary Cemetery in Delaware Township (present-day Cherry Hill), New Jersey.
Coming from a devoutly Catholic family, Joseph Alcorn grew up as a member of the Holy Name parish in North Camden, where he played violin each year at midnight mass. He met his wife while at Holy Name. He later was a member of St. Joseph's parish in East Camden, St. Peter's in Merchantville, New Jersey, and lastly of Church of the Holy Savior in Westmont.
My father, Joseph A. Alcorn, had a used car dealership on the corner of 15th and Federal Streets. He started the business with Skip Gardner as his partner in the late 40's and bought Skip out during that same period. Alcorn Motor Sales was a vibrant business. I recall visiting Art Sharp and Bill Mason as dad bought and sold cars from and for them as well as the automobiles on his lot.
My father was a member of the various parishes in Camden and its suburbs. He was born and raised in North Camden, after WWII, when he was discharged from the Marines, moved to East Camden. He later moved to Pennsauken, and finally to Haddon Township. Dad died in 1958 at 39 years of age, but left a rich legacy for his family, friends, business associates and the many people he helped throughout his lifetime. Dad was very proud of the home he bought at 500 West Drive in Haddon Township. My friend and classmate, Mary Cahill, daughter of future Governor William Cahill, remarked when she first visited in 1957 that it was the most beautiful house she had ever seen! Of course that was before the Cahills moved into the Govenor's Mansion.
My father was a hard-working, dignified and just man, who took his family from North Camden to Pennsauken, and, as he prospered, finally to West Drive. When he died on July 1st, 1958, Paul Rilatt of Rilatt's Funeral Home in North Camden had Dad's viewing at 500 West Drive since he knew how much Dad loved the place. Dad had been active in, and supportive of, several parishes in the area - Holy Name in North Camden, (where, as a child, he played his violin at Midnight Mass each Christmas Eve), St. Joe's in East Camden, St Peter's in Merchantville, and Holy Savior in Westmont.
Alcorn Motor Sales was on the Hollingshead property, and was quite a business in its day! Mother's parents, William and Mary McCollum, had a Mom & Pop store on the corner of 8th and York in North Camden; Mom and Dad met at Holy Name. Dr. James Reilly was Dad's friend and our pediatrician. When my father died Dr. Reilly asked me to 'work' at his office/home on Penn Street for the summer - my jobs were to answer his phone, walk to Horn & Hardart's each day, to buy lunch for the two of us, and read the dictionary - I was 14 at the time and, in some ways, that was the best job I've ever had!
The order of birth: Joseph A. Jr., March, 1940; William F., August, 1941 and me, Ruth Mary, September, 1943 - I believe it was my birth that allowed Dad's discharge from the Marines... Oh, and yes, I remember Westfield Acres (and Dudley Grange) where we lived while Dad was in the service, in fact I attended first grade at St. Joe's East Camden. We moved to 5036 Witherspoon Avenue in time for me to enter second grade in 1949.
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