William Penn
Hook & Ladder Company No. 1


On March 24, 1899 the City of Camden annexed the adjoining municipality, the Town of Stockton, whose citizens chose to join the City after a close and hard-fought election. Stockton was comprised of what today is known as Cramer Hill and East Camden, all of Camden that lies north of the Cooper River was originally Stockton. Cramer Hill became Camden's Eleventh Ward, and East Camden the Twelfth. Camden's City Council authorized the sale of bonds to build a new firehouse in the new part of town, at North 27th Street and Federal Streets (a library and police station was also built on the same ground), and in South Camden on Kaighn Avenue between South 6th and South 7th Streets.

Prior to the annexation, Stockton had been served by five volunteer fire companies. These companies remained on active duty as part of the municipal fire department for several months after the annexation to Camden. They went off-line at midnight, February 28, 1900, relieved from their duties by the newly organized Hook and Ladder Company No. 3, Hose Company No. 1, and Hose Company No.2. 

Of the Stockton volunteer fire companies, the first to organize was the William Penn Hook & Ladder Company No.1, organized on March 15, 1885 and incorporated June 21, 1889. The founders were Charles P. Clymer, President; William F. Peatt, Vice­president; George Barnett, Secretary; Joseph Malloy, Treasurer; John Bowers and Benjamin Tapper, Trustees and members Frank A. Buren, George Amon, W.T. Dailey, William German, Alexander Dick, Robert Johnson, Charles L. Pallin, Howard Smith, Robert Smith and George Yates. The company first was located in a frame structure under the wooden bridge that spanned Cooper Avenue (North 27th Street) over the railroad. They relocated to "Second and Penn Streets" (now 29th and Howell Streets), enlarged their quarters in 1890 and again in 1896. In 1896 the company purchased a dwelling on the corner of Cooper Avenue and Thompson Street (now 27th and Saunders Streets) and converted the house into their headquarters. Part of this building still stands. Their apparatus included a ladder truck, a hose carriage and a steam engine.

The William Penn Hook & Ladder Company No. 1 was joined over the next few years by Citizens Fire Company No. 1Stockton Hose Company No. 2, Pavonia Hose Company No. 3, and Rosedale Fire Company No. 4

When the Town of Stockton merged with Camden in 1899, the volunteer fire companies 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 City of Camden assumed responsibility for fire service in Cramer Hill and East Camden at the end of February, 1900. With that, the William Penn Fire Company and the other Stockton Fire Companies disbanded. Some of the Stockton volunteers ended up joining the Camden Fire Department, most notably Robert Gick of Pavonia Fire Company No. 3, Elmer Ellsworth Stevens of Stockton Hose Company No. 2, and Christian S. Stark from Rosedale Fire Company No. 4Josiah S. Pedigree of 104 North 36th Street, who also joined the Camden Fire Department at that time, was most likely a member of Rosedale Fire Company No. 4.  


.Citizens Fire Company No.1
Click on Image to Enlarge

Fire buckets carried on the ladder apparatus of the
William Penn Hook & Ladder Company No. 1 of Stockton, New Jersey


Helmet worn by
George Yates
of the
William Penn
Hook & Ladder Company No. 1

Rear brim reads
"INCORPORATED
1889"

Fireman Yates
was the
great-grandfather
of
Fred Spreng
who served during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s


The ribbon on the left was worn by William Penn members to a Firemen's Carnival held in Burlingtonon October 20, 1898. The ribbon on the right was worn by members of the Ladies Committe tduring the late 1890s. The "Cramer Hill" location is worth noting, as the William Penn fire house was (and still is) located southwest of the railroad tracks, as is the actual "Hill", peaking at 30th & Saunders Streets.

Click on Images for Enlarged Views

 


Unknown Member
of the
William Penn Hook & Ladder
Company No. 1

1890s

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Unknown Member
of the
William Penn Hook & Ladder
Company No. 1

Parade Dress Uniform

1890s

Click on Images for Enlarged Views


Philadelphia Inquirer - July 2, 1893

Abraham E. Jackson - Abraham Matlack - Charles M. Baldwin 
William Penn Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 - Engine Company 2


Philadelphia Inquirer
June 17, 1894

Citizens Fire Company No. 1

William Penn
Hook & Ladder
Company No. 1


Stockton Base Ball Club
David B. Ristine

Click on Image
Complete Article


Philadelphia Inquirer
December 21, 1895

Citizens Fire Company No. 1

William Penn
Hook & Ladder Company No. 1


Frank J. Hartmann Sr.
H.B. Schlam - D.J. Whelan
Walter Sellard - Richad Law
August Goeble - O.E. Schmid

George Williams - Alexander Dick
Charles Oehler - Louis Beiser
F.A. Buren - B.C. Cholister
G.A. Williams - Oscar Lane

Click on Image for PDF File


Philadelphia Inquirer - November 26, 1897
Robert Gick - Martin J. Ryan - George Bremen - Millard Daly - Jesse Milby  Samuel N. Johnson - William Abels - Samuel S. Elfreth
J.C.T. Trachsel - Colonel A.H. Troth
Stockton Hose Company - Citizens Fire Company - Rosedale Fire Company
William Penn Fire Hook & Ladder Company

Philadelphia Inquirer - March 27, 1917

Louis H. Beisser - Cleveland Avenue
William Penn Hook and Ladder Company No. 1


300 North 27th Street
Home of the William Penn Hook & Ladder Company No. 1
Photograph from 1994

300 North 27th Street
Home of the William Penn Hook & Ladder Company No. 1
Photograph from August 22, 2011

300 North 27th Street
Home of the William Penn Hook & Ladder Company No. 1
Photograph from July 24, 2013

Be Sure to Click on Images for Enlarged Views


Many of the photographs on this website are from the limited edition book "Fire Department Camden NJ 125 Anniversary 1869-1994" and were taken by Department Photographer Bob Bartosz. Others are courtesy of Joel Bain of the Camden Fire Department and Vern Welch, grandson of Samuel M. Welch.

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