THE YEAR 1879

SPAN OF A CENTURY
1828-1928

100 YEARS IN THE HISTORY OF CAMDEN AS A CITY

COMPILED FROM NOTES ANDS DATA COLLECTED BY
CHARLES S. BOYER

PRESIDENT CAMDEN COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY

PUBLISHED BY
CENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY COMMITTEE
OF CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS AND NOTES BY PHILLIP COHEN IN 2003

Epiphany Evangelical Church was formed in 1879. The church building at 7th and Market Street was dedicated December 11, 1887. 

The first two telephones in service in Camden were installed on January 14, 1879 by John A. Frankes, a Western Union employee, under the direction of Heber C. Robinson. One was placed in a rear room on the south side of the corridor in the City Hall, Haddon Avenue and Benson Street, then occupied by the Chief of Police, but later the office of the Mayor. The second was placed the same day, January 14, 1879, in Simeon T. Ringel's drug store, at the southwest corner of 2nd and Market Streets. A single iron wire grounded at each end formed this private line. No central office had as yet been established and the cost of the line, nearly a mile long,, and run primarily on city poles, was $40.00 Its use was for the city, and particularly for any of the twenty-four policemen then reporting to Chief Daubman in command of the local police.

At the January 30th, 1879 meeting of Council, J. Willard Morgan, special committee on telephone, reported the construction of this line and recommended extensions to other points, including the fire stations.

The South Jersey Telegraph Company secures an ordinance May 29, 1879 from the Camden City Council and on June 3rd began the erection of poles from Kaighn's Point Ferry to 2nd and Kaighn Avenue, to market, to Cooper's Creek; thence to Bridge Avenue, thence north to Arch Street, also from the Federal Street Ferry to Delaware Avenue, 3rd Street, and to the office about to be opened at 7 North 3rd Street.

By June 25, 1879 Mr. Robinson reported that he had superintended the building of 126 miles of lines in Camden, Gloucester, and Philadelphia, and hoped to begin operations by July 1st.

The Western Union office in Camden occupied the first floor for an addition at the rear of the drug store of Joseph C. De La Cour, at the southwest corner of 3rd and Arch Streets, and its operator was Charles C. Zacharias. As a telegraph employee who understood the electrical transmission of sound, Mr., Zacharias was engaged to look after the telephone interests, and a room above his offices was selected for telephone purposes. On August 16, 1879 John C. Benckert installed the first switchboard there.

During the summer of 1879 Mr. Zacharias was transferred to Asbury Park, and Charles A Janke, then a Dispatcher's Telegraph Operator, employed at the Bulson Street office of the Camden & Atlantic Railroad in South Camden, succeeded him. Mr. Janke had been in the telegraph business since February 1, 1877. He immediately appointed George C. Kadel, later Assistant Trainmaster of the West Jersey & Seashore Railroad Company, as messenger, taught him to answer the telephone and to telegraph; and then began a canvas of the city for telephone subscribers.

The majority of early subscribers were at first furnished with private lines and telephones for service between two points only, before their lines were connected at the central office for inter-communication.

At the central office George C. Kadel was soon assisted by his brother John W. Kadel, and by other boys, including Philip J. Murphy.

In the meantime, plans were perfected to connect with Philadelphia, and with much public interest, on June 26, 18790, the Western Electric Manufacturing Company attempted to lay a "Brooks Cable" from the Market Street Ferry house in Camden to the Walnut Street Wharf in Philadelphia, crossing Smith's Island, then in the river. The tugboat completing the work pulled the last section apart near Walnut Street, delaying the entire job until a new section could be made. This was finally completed August 12, 1879. By April 12, 1880 there were 19 Philadelphia, 57 Camden, and 10 Gloucester telephones in use besides 10 regular exchange subscribers. Those in Philadelphia and Gloucester and most of those in Camden were of the nature of private line telephones connection main offices with factories.

In the spring of 1881 the South Jersey Telegraph Company was purchased by the Bell interest in Philadelphia.

On July 18, 1882 the Delaware and Atlantic Telegraph & Telephone Company was incorporated, being succeeded October 1, 1927 by the New Jersey Bell Telephone Company.

From such beginnings has developed the modern telephone system that Camden has today. From the original two telephones installed in the city in 1879, have grown the 13,263 telephones that were in service in the city on December 31, 1927.

The present telephone building at Haddon Avenue and Federal Street was put in service on September 13, 1925. Its cost, including land and inside equipment to the Telephone Company was about $2,000.000.

An epidemic of smallpox struck Camden in 1879. Heroic efforts on the part of Dr. John Donges, of Broadway and Ferry Avenue, saved many lives.

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