The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines an ironmaster succinctly as “a manufacturer of iron.” And uncritically applied, Edward Smith (c.1771-1857) of 312 Cooper Street, owner of the Cumberland Furnace would surely qualify as an ironmaster. But a more nuanced understanding of the title might undermine his credentials—or better—lead to a fuller understanding how the role of the ironmaster and the organization of the charcoal iron industry changed between the late seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries. Continue reading
According to the HPO structure survey form for the property, the Honorable Charles P. Stratton (1827-1884), first President Law Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Camden County (1872-1877) sold 300-302 Cooper Street to Mary Smith on March 6, 1875. Eight years later, Mary and John E. Smith sold one or both of the properties to William A. Davis, pharmacist and physician, who resided at 300 Cooper with his family until 1906. To date, no census or city directory data have been found indicating that Mary or John E. Smith ever resided at 300-302 Cooper Street during their ownership.
Clues to the identity of John E. and Mary Smith came from two historic maps housed at the Camden County Historical Society. In 1877, two years after Mary’s purchase, G.M. Hopkins’ City Atlas of Camden New Jersey depicts two wooden frame structures at the southeast corner of the intersection of North Third Street and Cooper Street labeled 302 and 304 Cooper Street. It is likely that the handsome brick twin houses that now stand at 300-302 were already built at the time of Davis’ purchase in 1883 since it is confirmed that the brick twins were present by 1902 and that the Davis family occupied 300 Cooper until 1906.
The Smiths may have purchased 300-302 Cooper as a development property. Historic census data and city directories suggest that the developer-owners may have been a local builder, John E. Smith, husband of Anna Smith, of 319 Walnut Street and Mary Smith, a female relative—perhaps his mother or sister. Directory and census entries include:
- John E. Smith, carpenter 325 Walnut Street (1874)
- John E. Smith, builder, 325 Walnut Street (1877)
- John Smith, carpenter, 325 Walnut Street (1879)
- John E. Smith, carpenter, 319 Walnut Street, husband of Anna (1880)
- J. E. Smith, carpenter, 319 Walnut Street (1881)
- John E. Smith, carpenter, 319 Walnut Street (1882)
- John E. Smith, building inspector, 319 Walnut Street (1886)
- John E. Smith, carpenter, 319 Walnut Street (1887)
Unfortunately, John and Mary Smith are rather common names—even in Camden in the 1880s—and additional research might indicate the owners were an entirely different John E. and Mary Smith.
Camden County Historical Society
G.M. Hopkins’ 1877 City Atlas of Camden New Jersey
G. Wm. Baist’s 1902 Property Atlas of the City of Camden New Jersey
George R. Prowell’s 1886 History of Camden County, New Jersey
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.
“Go West, young man”— a quote falsely credited to newsman Horace Greeley— captures the popular understanding of migration trends during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, that of successive waves of immigration to North America’s port cities followed by gradual but relentless occupation of the Nation’s seemingly limitless interior. Whatever truth to the understanding, by the middle nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the winds and tides had changed as the rise of industry in and around those same port cities recalled those same travelers.
One such émigré was Aaron S. Cades (1870-1927). Born in the Baltic Region of the Russian Empire—today the Republic of Lithuania—Cades voyaged to the United States at the age of eighteen where he married his Hungarian wife Sadie (née Greenstein) (b. 1882) in 1898. They bought a home in Bunch Creek, Oklahoma where he worked as a merchant and she as a furniture seller. In Oklahoma, Sadie bore him three sons: Joseph (b. 1900), David (b. 1902), and Edwin (b. 1907). By 1910, Aaron, Sadie, and their boys moved to Auburn, Arkansas where they lived with Sadie’s mother Pearl Greenstein (b. 1844). Owning their own home in Arkansas, Aaron must have achieved some success as a merchant in Auburn.
However by 1920 Camden, New Jersey had lured Aaron from his dusty prairie home. The siren call of the growing city’s business opportunities and its thriving Jewish community likely drew him. In the first decade of the twentieth century Camden’s Jewish residents numbered over 800 and the city supported two congregations, Adath Israel (est. 1904) and Bnei Abraham (est. 1905). In Camden Aaron Cades boarded at The Penn apartment building at 301 North 3rd Street and worked as a merchandise jobber.
By 1921, Aaron’s wife and sons, David and Edwin, joined him in Camden. First they resided at 404 Federal Street where his grown sons established Cades Brothers jewelry store. By 1924, David and Edwin’s thriving jewelry business permitted them to buy their mother and father their own residence at 300 Cooper Street. Aaron lived with his wife at 300 Cooper Street for the next three years before passing away unexpectedly on December 14, 1927.
Camden County Historical Society
Szold, Henrietta (editor). The Jewish American Year Book, 5668. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America. 1907.