While researching the Cades family of 300 Cooper Street, the absence of Aaron and Sadie’s oldest son, Joseph (born 1900), from the Camden City directories led me to some interesting questions and gloomy answers regarding Joseph’s situation. 

After 1910, Joseph and Aaron departed from Auburn, Arkansas and landed in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana. According to his draft registration card dated September 12, 1918, Joseph was an unemployed stenographer in Ouachita. The draft registrar described him as short and stocky with black hair and gray eyes. On Joseph’s draft registration card Aaron S. Cades of Louis Lane in the City of Monroe, Ouachita Parish, Louisiana was listed as his nearest relative.

While it is unclear whether or not Joseph was called up for active military duty during the final months of World War I, by 1920 his health was poor. A patient in the Camden County Sanatorium also known as the Sunny Rest Sanatorium at Ancora, Joseph was stricken with tuberculosis. During the 1920s tuberculosis—also known as the White Plague—was still a major public health issue. In 1920, Camden County saw 280 cases of tuberculosis and 212 deaths resulting in a staggering 73.35% fatality rate.  Because effective antibiotic treatments for tuberculosis were not developed until 1944, it is likely that Joseph eventually died from the disease. Joseph Cades appears conspicuously absent from city directories and census records that postdate 1920.

Of course, this brief sketch leaves several pointed questions unanswered. Did Joseph fall ill in Louisiana and seek treatment in New Jersey? Was he drafted and did he contract tuberculosis in the trenches of Europe? Or did Camden’s crowded boarding houses expose him to the pathogen after his and Aaron’s arrival? And was Aaron’s move to Camden motivated by commerce or concern for the health of his oldest son?


Camden County Historical Society



New Jersey Department of Health. Forty-Fourth Annual Report of the Department of Health of the State of New Jersey, 1921. Trenton: State of New Jersey, 1921.