Murrell
Dobbins


MURRELL DOBBINS (1843-1917), son of Joseph Ridgeway and Mary Ann (Hilyard) Dobbins, was born at Pemberton, NJ in 1843. After coming to Philadelphia upon the death of his father, he served a regular apprenticeship at the bricklaying trade. This early contact with trade instruction is reflected in his later interests when, as president of the Master Builders Exchange of Philadelphia, he was influential in providing an evening trade school within that organization.

From apprenticeship he rose to be a contractor, becoming one of Philadelphia's leading builders. Later, he engaged in brick manufacturing, and in 1901 he founded the Camden Pottery Company. He hired Arthur J. Podmore, a Trenton NJ native with extensive experience in the pottery business in that city, to supervise the factory shortly thereafter.

He was elected to the Philadelphia Board of Education in January, 1906 and almost immediately urged the consideration of a plan for a system of mechanical trade schools. His diligence in pressing this point is indicated by the fact that the first school of this kind was opened in September of that year as The Philadelphia Trades School for Boys, at Twelfth and Locust Streets.

Mr. Dobbins served three years as an active member of the Philadelphia Board of Education. He resigned in 1909 to become Philadelphia City Treasurer. He continued his interest in vocational education during the remainder of his life, and it is most fitting that Philadelphia's vocational school should bear his name.

Murrell Dobbins passed away in 1917. The ownership of Camden Pottery fell to his son, T. Munroe Dobbins.



From
South Jersey: A History 1624-1924

MURRELL DOBBINS—The death of the late Murrell Dobbins, on April 6, 1917, removed from South Jersey one of its ablest business men, and one of its most respected citizens. As president of the Camden Pottery Company, of Camden, he was at the head of one of the largest concerns of its kind in the State, and at one time he was the largest individual manufacturer of bricks in the country. He was also president and a member of the board of directors of the Third National Bank of Philadelphia.

Murrell Dobbins, son of Joseph Ridgway and Mary (Hillyard) Dobbins, was born in Pemberton, Burlington County, New Jersey, August 29, 1843. He received his early and preparatory education at Kelly's School, Mount Holly, New Jersey, and in the Friends' School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He then matriculated in Burlington University, but did not finish his course. After the death of his father he removed to Philadelphia, where he served a regular apprenticeship at the brick-laying trade. For a number of years he was associated with his brother, the late Richard J. Dobbins, in the building and contracting business, and during this period he aided in the erection of some of the largest buildings in the city of Philadelphia, including the Ledger Building, the House of Correction, and the Memorial and Main Centennial Exhibition buildings. He was also extensively engaged in the manufacture of bricks, and at one time controlled four brick yards, which combination placed him first among brick manufacturers in the United States. In 1901, in association with T. Munroe Dobbins., he organized the Camden Pottery Company, and engaged in the manufacture of plumbers' sanitary earthenware. The company commenced operating at once with the object of establishing a reputation for sound business principles and thus gaining the confidence of its trade. The success of the company since its incorporation is conclusive evidence that these resolutions were thoroughly well kept. The concern has steadily grown and prospered, and has from time to time altered the styles of its product to keep pace with advancements in engineering and in methods of sanitation in both public institutions and homes. Murrell Dobbins was the first president of the company, and T. Munroe Dobbins, its secretary and treasurer. The plant occupies several acres of ground in a very desirable section of Camden, New Jersey, bounded by Mount Vernon and Orchard streets, on the New Jersey & Seashore Railroad, convenient for shipping both by rail and water. There is every prospect that this already large and prosperous enterprise will continue to grow and expand in the future.

After the death of Mr. Dobbins, in 1917, the company was re-organized with T. Munroe Dobbins as president, and A. J. Podmore as secretary, but the sound business principles upon which the corporation was founded have been retained, and the present officials are still following the policies of the founder. 

The company manufactures only strictly high grade plumbing goods, and caters to the trade which demands the complicated fixtures and special articles as designed by sanitary experts. 

The product is distributed from coast to coast and installed in some of the largest hotels and institutions in the country, and can also be found in many foreign countries. The trade name "Capoco" has become universally known and is a guarantee of service and satisfaction. The materials used in manufacture, both foreign and domestic clays, are selected with the greatest care, as good quality of clay is essential in the product of first class ware. Another important factor in the product of the high class goods which the Camden Pottery Company sends out is its working force, consisting of one hundred and fifty highly skilled mechanics, well trained, carefully supervised, and selected from all sections of the country, who take an active interest in their work. Most of these have established comfortable residences in Camden, and the company encourages and rewards their efforts in every way possible. Before the organization of the Camden Pottery Company, the foundations of the business were laid by James Lyons, who operated the concern under the name of the Lyons Pottery Company, which he operated to the time of his death when business was suspended. The plant was then sold to the Camden Pottery Company, and has been in continued operation since under its present name.

Mr. Dobbins was a member of the old Bricklayers' Company, and one of the incorporators of the Master Builders' Exchange, also the organizer and first president of the New Jersey Society of Pennsylvania. In addition to the business responsibilities and activities already mentioned he was also at one time president of the Third National Bank of Philadelphia.

Numerous and important as were his business connections, Mr. Dobbins also found time for public service. For many years he served as Port Warden, and later he was made a member of the Board of Education, in which capacity he enthusiastically served until 1909, when he resigned to accept the nomination for City Treasurer, to which office he was elected on the Republican ticket. One of his notable achievements as a member of the Board of Education was the establishment of the Trade School. He was widely known as a member of the "Old Guard" of Republicans, having been a leader in the counsels of his party almost from the time he reached his majority. He was a member of the Union League, the Society of Colonial Wars, Pennsylvania Society; Sons of the Revolution; Pennsylvania Historical Society; Pennsylvania Horticultural Society; Manufacturers' Club; Automobile Club of Pennsylvania; Franklin Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons; Chapter No. 169, Royal Arch Masons; and St. John's Commandery, No. 4, Knights Templar. He was president of the Board of the Eastern State Penitentiary, and a State Prison Inspector to the time of his death. His religious affiliation was with the Protestant Episcopal Church.

Although the business organization which he founded will remain for many years a monument to his energy and ability, Mr. Dobbins will best be remembered for his many benevolent acts, and the influence exerted by his strong character will live in the hearts of many long after the work which he accomplished in the world of business has been lost and forgotten.

On January 26, 1871, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Murrell Dobbins married Emily Munroe, daughter of Thomas G. and Hester (Art) Munroe, and they are the parents of two children: Laura E., and T. Munroe, a sketch of whom follows.



Trenton Evening Times
February 16, 1908

Al Davis' Saloon
Broadway
Clark Hill
Wilfred B. Wolcott
Charles H. Ellis
Murrell Dobbins
Thomas Brothers

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Trenton Evening Times - March 20, 1909
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Clark Hill - Thomas Guthridge- Murrell Dobbins - Adam Davis - Broadway - Harry W. Mines
Camden Pottery Company


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