Joseph
Maxwell


 

JOSEPH MAXWELL was born in Philadelphia on December 10, 1860, and was living and working in Camden as a teamster as early as 1878. He married around 1883 and was living at 206 Arch Street when wife Katherine bore a son, Warren, in 1884. Another son, Harry Borton Maxwell was  born on December 7, 1888. Three more children followed,  Elsie, Helen, and Frank.

The family had moved to 325 Cedar Street when the 1887 City Directory was compiled, and remained at that address through 1891. Joseph Maxwell was appointed to the Camden Fire Department in the spring of 1890 as an extra man. At some point after the compilation of the 1891-1892 City Directory and the 1894 City Directory Joseph Maxwell and his family moved to 313 Cedar Street

On April 2, 1892 Joseph Maxwell was appointed as a hoseman with Engine Company 2, stationed at Fire Headquarters, North 5th and Arch Streets. He came to the attention of Samuel Elfreth, the Chief of the Camden Fire Department. By the time the 1895 Directory was compiled, Joseph Maxwell was working as Chief Elfreth's driver, and the Maxwell family had move to 27 North 2nd Street, where they lived through 1899. 

When the Town of Stockton merged with Camden in 1899, the volunteer fire companies of Stockton remained active for several months brief time. On June 25, 1899 the Stockton companies rendered assistance to the Camden Fire Department when the Moro Phillips Chemical Company factory at North Twelfth Street at Linden Street was struck by fire, resulting in $60,000 worth of damage and injury to three Camden firefighters, Joseph Maxwell, David Andrews, and William Hertline.

The Maxwell family moved to 205 Stevens Street in late 1899 or early 1900. By 1906 they relocated to 221 Market Street, and moved once again by the summer of 1910, to 620 North 3rd Street where they lived into the 1920s. 

Joseph Maxwell was promoted to Captain and transferred from Engine Company 2 to Ladder Company 1 on June 19, 1911, replacing Peter Carter, who had been transferred to Engine Company 1.

About 5:20 A.M. on July 20, 1912, two watchman discovered a fire at the Graves paper box factory at Twelfth and Linden Streets, North Camden. The fire extended to an adjoining three-story paint factory. Chief Elfreth and his men encountered formidable obstacles as burning oil floated on top of the water along the Cooper River. Fireman Joseph Maxwell of Hook & Ladder Company 1 suffered serious smoke inhalation but refused to abandoned his position. Only the north wall of the paint factory remained standing after the flames were darkened. The cause of the fire was determined to be spontaneous combustion in the paper box factory. The resulting fire loss was $50,000.

Sadly, Mrs. Kate Maxwell died in December of 1915. 

Something akin to a miracle occurred on the frigid night of January 11,1916 at the State Street Methodist Episcopal Church, Sixth and State Streets, North Camden. At 10 P.M., three alarms were transmitted in rapid succession for a serious fire involving the main auditorium of the church. Heavy fire conditions extended to destroy the roof, the organ loft, the altar, Sunday School classrooms, and the entire pew area throughout the auditorium. When the blaze was finally extinguished, all that remained standing were four granite walls. On the south side of the building along State Street, was a magnificent stained glass window of gigantic proportion depicting Christ breaking bread with Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus. The window had inexplicably withstood the flames and heat. The scene from the life of Christ was not blistered, scorched or marred in anyway. It has never been retouched and still stands as a miracle, surviving one of the most disastrous church fires in City history. Chief of Department Peter Carter was injured at this incident when he fell through a passageway between the auditorium and the school building. He was hospitalized for several weeks. Captain Joseph Maxwell and Fireman Steward Bakley of Hook & Ladder Company 1, Fireman John Hunt of Engine Company 3, and Fireman William McCauley of Chemical Company 1 were injured when the church roof collapsed on them. Under heavy smoke conditions and following some difficulty, the members were able to extricate themselves, three of them safely. Captain Maxwell was admitted to the hospital for a brief stay. 

Joseph Maxwell passed away in September of 1917, at the age of 56. 

Not long after his Joseph Maxwell's, son Harry B. Maxwell was appointed to the Camden Fire Department, along with his son-in-law, William Van Pfefferle, the husband of his sister Elsie. 

Harry B. Maxwell was still with the Fire Department as late as April of 1942. When the 1947 City Directory was compiled, Harry B. Maxwell had left the Fire Department. He and his wife were living at 727 Linden Street. He had moved to 605 Pearl Street by the fall of 1956 and was still living there three years later. A lifelong Camden resident, Harry B. Maxwell died in April of 1967.

Joseph Maxwell's son-in-law, William Van Pfefferle, rose through the ranks of the Camden Fire Department and served as Chief of Department from 1950 to 1958. Great-grandson Private First Class Warren Walter Pfefferle was killed in a plane crash in Vietnam on August 24, 1965 while serving with the United States Marine Corps.


Philadelphia Inquirer - March 10, 1899

Julius Taylor
David Baird Sr.
George M. Beringer
Henry L. Bonsall
Samuel Elfreth
Joseph Maxwell

Penn Street
South 5th Street
Bridge Avenue

 


Philadelphia Inquirer - April 25, 1905


...continued...

James Cahill - Samuel S. Elfreth  - Joseph Maxwell - John Hines
Sitley & Son - Frank Sagers - C. Oscar Brown - William F. Thompson
South 2nd Street


Philadelphia Inquirer - November 5, 1909

Peter Hagan - Samuel Elfreth - Joseph Maxwell - 36th Street - River Avenue


Philadelphia Inquirer - April 13, 1910

George Cox - Frank Chambers - Peter Gray - Joseph Maxwell  


618, 620, 622, 624 & 626
North 3rd Street

April 2, 1912

Click on Image to Enlarge


Hook & Ladder Company No.1
with new 1914 American LaFrance 75', 4 cyliner aerial ladder, in front of Fire Headquarters

From Left: tillerman Bill Tatem, firemen Edward Finley, Charles Gladney, and Harry Green, Lt. Harry Anderson,
Firemen
George Hollins and Stewart Bakley, Captain Joseph Maxwell, and driver Harry Burroughs


Philadelphia
Inquirer

January 4, 1917

Frank G. Hitchener
Joseph Maxwell
John Wilffon
Peter B. Carter
Dr. E.A.Y. Schellenger Sr.
Mrs. Sallie Gordon
John Orr
Mrs. Mary Brooks
John Humphries
L.J. Donavan

Mickle Street
South 5th Street
Stevens Street
Judson Place

Cooper Hospital

 


Philadelphia Inquirer - December 21, 1915

Philadelphia Inquirer - September 24, 1917

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