William
H.
Shearman


WILLIAM H. SHEARMAN was one of the original members of the Camden Fire Department, entering service on December 7, 1869 as the Assistant Marshall, a post similar in nature to that of Deputy Chief.

William Shearman was born in Pennsylvania around 1830. The 1850 census shows that he was living in Philadelphia with his wife Amanda at the home of a carpenter, Abraham Lower. It appears that Abram Lower was William Shearman's father-in-law. Lower's son Abram Lower Jr. was also living there at the time. 

In April of 1861, war broke out between the northern and southern states. William H. Shearman answered his nation's call to arms. He enlisted as a Private in Company H, Pennsylvania 19th Infantry Regiment on 18 May 1861. 

The Nineteenth regiment originated in the National Guards, of Philadelphia, a uniformed regiment of the State militia. It was originally a single company, organized on the 11th of December, 1840, under Captain Thomas Tustin, succeeded in 1844 by Captain Stephen B. Kingston, and the latter in 1847 by Captain Peter Lyle. It was recruited for the Mexican war; but more troops volunteering than were needed, its services were not accepted. The company held a volunteer encampment of eight days' duration in July, 1856, near the city of Lancaster, and again the year following at Bethlehem. NON SIBI, SED PATRLE, was adopted as its motto. 

In 1858, it had so increased in numbers-having one hundred and twenty members as to be unwieldy on parade with other companies of only the minimum strength. It was accordingly divided and a battalion of four companies formed from it. Still maintaining a steady growth, on the 11th of December, 1860, a full regimental organization, with eight companies, was effected. Experiencing much inconvenience for the want of suitable Headquarters, the National Guards' Hall was erected on Race street, Philadelphia, at an expense of one hundred and ten thousand dollars. 

The Guards were in line at Harrisburg on the 22d of February, 1861, on the occasion of the reception of Abraham Lincoln, President elect, on his way to the National Capital. Upon the outbreak of the rebellion, the regiment was held in readiness, and on the 16th of April, 1861, its services were tendered to the Governor. On being accepted, recruiting 
immediately commenced, and on the 27th of April, with full ranks, it was mustered into the service of the United States, as the Nineteenth Pennsylvania volunteers, and the same field officers, who had commanded the Guards, were commissioned: Peter Lyle, Colonel D. W. C. Baxter, Lieutenant Colonel; J. W. Fritz, Major; H. A. B. Brown became Adjutant. Upon opening the books for recruits, men flocked to its standard, largely in excess of the number which the government would accept, and consequently many were rejected. So great was the desire to belong to this organization, that it was regarded as a personal 
favor to be accepted. 

On the 10th of May, the regiment was ordered to Baltimore. Landing at Locust Point, it marched to the neighborhood of Fort McHenry, and encamped just outside the Fort, in Camp Pennsylvania. The thorough drill to which the National Guards from their first organization had been subjected, and the large experience of its officers, rendered the discipline of the recruited regiment easy, and it was soon brought to a high state of proficiency. There were few better drilled organizations, at this time, in the service. 

The command of the Department of Annapolis, with Headquarters at Baltimore, had been given to General Cadwalader; but upon being assigned to the command of a division in General Patterson's army, he was succeeded by General Banks. The latter soon discovered that unlawful combinations of men existed for the purpose of thwarting the operations of the government in its attempts to subdue armed rebellion, and that Marshal Kane, chief of police, was not only aware of their existence, but in contravention of his duty, and in violation of law, was both witness and protector to the transactions and parties engaged 
therein. It was rumored that these hostile organizations were soon to assume the offensive, and seize the Custom-House, Post-office, Telegraph, and a large amount of Coin in transit. Acting under instructions from his government, he determined to arrest the Marshal. 
This delicate and possibly difficult duty was assigned to the NINETEENTH regiment. Leaving two companies in camp, Colonel Lyle made the following disposition of the remainder of his force: selecting from each company five of the most judicious men and skillful marksmen, he placed them upon the sidewalks, with orders to keep abreast of their respective companies which were formed in platoons of ten in the street. 

A little after midnight, the command moved quietly into the city, and in order to prevent any disturbance, and to cut off the possibility of an alarm being given, the troops were ordered to seize all persons found on the line of march, whether policeman or civilians, place them in the center of the column and compel them to march noiselessly along. Arriving at
the residence of the Marshal, he was found and taken in custody, having had no suspicion of a purpose to capture him. He was taken to the Fort and placed in safe keeping, and the captives found upon the streets were dismissed. For several days succeeding this event, a portion of the regiment was on duty in the city, and upon its return, the regular routine of drill and camp life was resumed. 

While stationed at Camp Pennsylvania the command received many favors from friends in Philadelphia, among others, a printing press and materials. In the ranks were not only printers and literary men, but skilled designers and engravers, and the publication of a camp newspaper, the NATIONAL GUARD, was commenced. It had an elaborately designed and neatly engraved head, with the words "NATIONAL GUARD" in scroll, with groups of flags displayed at either end, the regimental coat of arms with the motto NON SIBI, SED PATRLE entwined, the whole having been executed in camp. The first number was marked Volume II, Number 1, the first volume having been issued in the encampment at 
Lancaster in 1858. One number was profusely illustrated, delineating many ludicrous scenes in camp life, in which a pair of dilapidated army shoes and breeches came in for a share of ridicule.

General Banks was succeeded in the command of the Department by General Dix. As the expiration of the term of service of the three months, troops drew near, be was in danger of being left without a command. He accordingly made an earnest appeal to the several regiments to stay with him until their places could be filled by other troops. When he came to 
the camp of the Guards, they were massed in his front, and he urged his suit in a few well timed and eloquent remarks. It was a time to try the feelings of the officers. Anxious as they were, that their men should remain, they were still uncertain of the temper which would prevail. At the signal for a decision, there was not a dissenting voice, a result which 
excited the pride and satisfaction of every member of the regiment and elicited the compliments of the General. They were, however, detained only four days beyond their term of enlistment, and were mustered out at Philadelphia, on the 29th of August, 1861. 

William H. Shearman soon went back to war. He was commissioned as a First Lieutenant in Company E, Pennsylvania 88th Infantry Regiment on October 22, 1861.

The Eighty-eighth Infantry Regiment, three companies of which were 
recruited in Berks county and the remainder in Philadelphia, was known as the Cameron Light Guards and was mustered into the U. S. service at Philadelphia in September, 1861 for a three years' term. It was ordered to Washington on October 1, and assigned to guard duty at Alexandria, where it received its arms and equipment. On February 18, 1862, five companies were detailed for garrison duty in forts on the Potomac, and on April 17, the regiment, reunited, moved to Cloud's mills, to guard the line of the Orange & Alexandria railroad from Bull Run to Fairfax Court House. May 7, the command was ordered to report to Gen. McDowell and assigned to Gen. Ricketts' division,

Lieutenant Shearman resigned his commission on June 18, 1862, before his unit went into action. He returned to his wife and family. William Shearman and his brother-in-law Abraham Lower apparently moved to Camden in the 1860s, and became volunteer firemen. William Shearman's daughter, Dollie Amanda Shearman, married William S. Davis in late 1869 or early 1870. 

Despite opposition, on September 2, 1869 City Council enacted a municipal ordinance creating a paid fire department. It provided for the annual appointment of five Fire Commissioners, one Chief Marshal (Chief of Department) and two Assistant Marshals. The City was also divided into two fire districts. The boundary line ran east and west, starting at Bridge Avenue and following the tracks of the Camden and Amboy Railroad to the city limits. District 1 was south of this line and District 2 was north. The commissioners also appointed the firemen who were scheduled to work six 24 hour tours per week. William Abels, from the Weccacoe Hose Company No. 2 was appointed Chief Marshal with William W. Mines, from the Independence Fire Company No. 3 as Assistant Marshal for the 1st District, and William H. Shearman as the Assistant Marshal for the 2nd District. Abels had served with the volunteer fire departments of Philadelphia, Mobile, Alabama and Camden for sixteen years prior to his appointment as Chief of the paid force.

As stated above William Shearman was a charter member of the Camden Fire Department, entering service as Assistant Marshall on December 7, 1869. His brother-in-law, Abraham Lower, also was an original member, as an extra man with the Hook & Ladder Company, known to day as Ladder Company 1. His son-in-law, William S. Davis, was appointed to the Fire Department in December of 1870.

William H. Shearman lived at 406 Pine Street when he joined the Fire Department. He was a stone cutter by trade. By the time the 1870 Census was compiled, William Shearman was living in Camden's Middle Ward with his wife Amanda and daughters Caroline and Mary. Camden Fire Department records give his address in 1871 as 112 North 6th Street.

The 1878 City Directory has a listing for the Camden City Marble Works, Kripps & Shearman, proprietors, located at Arch and Federal Streets. Webster Kripps of 533 Arch Street was William Shearman's partner in this business. The Directory shows "William Sherman, marble cutter", at 2 Haddon Avenue.

The 1880 census lists William Shearman as "William H. Sherman" at 3 Haddon Avenue with a wife named Almira and no children. He may well have lost all of them to illness. William and Almira Sherman had wed in 1877. William H. Shearman was still working as a stone cutter. The Shearmans moved down the street to 33 Haddon Avenue prior to the compilation of the 1882-1883 City Directory.

The 1882-1883 and 1883-1884 City Directories show William Shearman had taken a post as Health Inspector for the City of Camden, and was also Commissioner of Highways. These positions had ended by the latter half of 1885, with a change in the political winds in Camden. William Shearman went into business as a contractor, and remained in that line of business the rest of his days.

The Shearmans were still at 33 Haddon Avenue by the time the 1900 Census was compiled. The census states that William H. Shearman was then in business as a paving contractor.

To his last day a resident of 33 Haddon Avenue, William H. Shearman passed away on April 28, 1904 and was buried at Evergreen Cemetery. He had long been a member of the Thomas M.K. Lee Post No. 5, Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R) and he received Grand Army honors at his burial.

William H. Shearman's widow Almira applied for and received a Civil War veteran's widow's pension in May of that year. 


Camden Democrat - May 25, 1872

Philadelphia Inquirer - October 9, 1872
Click on Image for Complete Article
Robert S. Bender - E.J. Dodamead - Jacob Kellum
William S. Davis - Albert Doughty - George Horner
William Shearman

 

Philadelphia Inquirer
September 5, 1877

William H. Shearman
Martin Carney
John Berry
Edward N. Dougherty
George Wynkoop
Abel J. Lewis

Click on Images for PDF File
of Complete Article

 


Philadelphia Inquirer - September 19, 1877

William H. Shearman  - George Wynkoop - Protective Labor Party

Philadelphia Inquirer
May 8, 1878

William H. Shearman - John S. Read
Charles G. Zimmerman - William H. Cole
John R. Johnston - William H. Powell
Stephen Titus - Matthew Miller- James Tatem
B. Frank Sutton -
Christopher J. Mines Jr. Charles Sharp - William Sharp
Elwood Kemble - Charles Robinson
Joseph B. Tatem - Samuel T. Murphy
John Gill Jr. - Amos Ebert - Lemuel Horner
William M. Godfrey - Thomas C. Knight

Judge John T. Woodhull - Benjamin Hunter - John M. Armstrong - Emma Bethel
Click on Images for PDF File of Complete Article


Philadelphia Inquirer - June 1, 1880

Thomas M.K. Lee Post No. 5, G.A.R. - William B. Hatch Post No. 37, G.A.R. - William H. Shearman - Sixth Regimental Band - Colonel Joseph C. Nichols - 
Joseph McAllister - William D. Middleton
Francis Saunders - Frederick Shill - Rev. J.B. Graw - 

North 5th Street
- Arch Street - Hatch League No. 2, Loyal Ladies League

Philadelphia Inquirer - December 21, 1882

Josiah Matlack - John W. Streeper
E.A. Stevens School - Horace Hammell - Sadie Hammell
Henry Hakeman - York Street - William Sheldon - William H. Shearman
Third Street Methodist Episcopal Church - Rev. Dr. J.B. Graw 

Philadelphia Inquirer - March 8, 1884
Click on Images for PDF File of Complete Article

Thomas M.K. Lee Post No. 5, G.A.R.  - Haddon Avenue


 


 

Philadelphia Inquirer
May 2, 1904

Thomas M.K. Lee Post No. 5, G.A.R.
William H. Shearman
Haddon Avenue

Click on Images to Enlarge

 

 


Philadelphia Inquirer - May 2, 1904

Thomas M.K. Lee Post No. 5, G.A.R.  - Haddon Avenue


Philadelphia Inquirer
May 3, 1904

Elizabeth Rodd - South 5th Street
Cooper Hospital
Joseph E. Nowrey
Victor Talking Machine Compnay
William H. Shearman
Haddon Avenue
Rev.  Dr. Clarence A. Adams
Trinity Baptist Church


Civil War Pension Record

 

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