GEORGE HORNEFF was one of the original members of the Camden Fire Department, entering service on December 7, 1869 as an extra man with Engine Company 1. 

George Horneff was born in the Duchy of Wurttemburg, in what is now Germany, in August of 1838 to Johann Jacob Horneff and his wife, the former Katherine Elisabethe Mayer. Records differ as to when he came to America, but seem to indicate that it would have been in 1860. A Jacob Horneff, aged 41, operated a lager beer saloon in Camden's North Wardwhen the 1860 Census was taken. In any event George Horneff was in America when he was married in Camden, New Jersey on January 25, 1866 to Emma Cairoli. She bore him a son, John, around 1867. George Horneff supported his family by working as a machinist. The family lived at 908 South 3rd Street when he joined the Fire Department in the fall of 1869.

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 J. 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.

On November 10, 1869 City Council purchased the Independence Firehouse, the three-story brick building at 409 Pine Street, for $4500. The building was designated to serve as quarters for Engine Company 1 and the 1st District. On October 29, 1869 City Council authorized construction of a two-story brick building on the northwest corner of Fifth and Arch Streets as quarters for the 2nd District. On November 25th the Fire Commissioners signed a contract with M.N. Dubois in the amount of $3100 to erect this structure. The 2nd District would share these quarters with Engine Company 2 and the Hook & Ladder Company and the facility would also serve as department headquarters for the new paid force. The original contract remains part of the Camden County Historical Society collection. 

Engine Company 2 with 1869 Silsby Hose Cart. Photo Circa 1890. Note badges upon derby hats worn by Fire Fighters.  

Two Amoskeag second class, double pump, straight frame steam engines were purchased at a cost of $4250 each. Two Silsby two wheel hose carts, each of which carried 1000 feet of hose, were another $550 each and the hook & ladder, built by Schanz and Brother of Philadelphia was $900. Each engine company received a steam engine and hose cart. Amoskeag serial #318 went to Engine Company 1, and serial #319 to Engine Company 2. The Fire Commission also secured the services of the Weccacoe and Independence steamers in case of fire prior to delivery of the new apparatus. Alfred McCully of Camden made the harnesses for the horses. Camden's Twoes & Jones made the overcoats for the new firemen and a Mr. Morley, also of Camden, supplied the caps and belts which were manufactured by the Migeod Company of Philadelphia. The new members were also issued badges.

This is the earliest known photo of fire headquarters on the northwest corner of Fifth and Arch Streets. Originally built in 1869, the building shows signs of wear some twenty years later. Note the weathervane shaped like a fireman's speaking trumpet atop the tower. Also, the fire alarm bell is pictured to the left of the telegraph pole above the rooftop. The bell was removed from the building once the fire alarm telegraph system was expanded and in good working order.  


This maker's plate once was attached to a harness made by A. McCully & Sons, 22 Market Street, Camden, New Jersey. This firm provided the first harnesses for the paid fire department in 1869.  

Badges worn by the marshals, engineers, stokers and engine drivers bore the initial letter of their respective positions and their district number. The tillerman and his driver used the number "3" to accompany their initial letter. The extra men of the 1st District were assigned badges 1-10; 2nd District badges were numbered 11-20 and the extra men of the hook & ladder wore numbers 21-30.

Although the Fire Commission intended to begin operation of the paid department on November 20, 1869, the companies did not actually enter service until December 7th at 6 P.M. because the new apparatus and buildings were not ready. The new apparatus was not tried (tested) until December 9th.

The new members of the paid force were:            

Engine Company 1

George Rudolph Tenner, Engineer; William H. Clark, Driver;
Thomas McLaughlin, Stoker

Extra Men (call members)

Thomas Allibone           

Badge #1

William Deith               

Badge #2

George Horneff  

Badge #3

John J. Brown        

Badge #4

William A.H. White          

Badge #5

James Sutton    

Badge #6

Cornelius M. Brown    

Badge #7

Alexander Peacock    

Badge #8

Samuel Buzine 

Badge #9

Jesse Chew 

Badge #10

The first style of breast badge worn by members of the career department in the City of Camden. 1869. (Courtesy of the C.C.H.S. Collection).


George Horneff, wife Emma, and son John were living at 908 South 3rd Street, near the corner of South 3rd Street and Joint Alley, when he joined the department in the fall of 1869, and were still at that address when the Census was taken in the summer of 1870. His neighbors at 910 South 3rd Street were the John Holl family, son George Holl, who lived there was a Civil War veteran and would become a prominent builder in Camden in later years. At 906 South 3rd street lived bar-owner Adam Kolb Sr. and his son Adam Kolb Jr. By the fall of 1871 George Horneff and family had moved to 269 Mount Vernon Street. A daughter, Mary Horneff, was born in April of 1872.

On October 23, 1872 George Horneff's nephew, Henry Wagner, was appointed to the Camden Fire Department as an extra man with Engine Company 1.

George Horneff served with Engine Company 1 until April of 1876 when he was promoted to Assistant Chief Engineer, serving under Claudius Bradshaw for three years. George Horneff's brother-in-law George H. Middleton Sr. joined him in the Fire Department at that time. George Horneff left the Camden Fire Department in 1879, when Samuel S. Elfreth was elected Chief. George Horneff retuned to working as a machinist. Among his employers were the Camden & Amboy railroad in the 1880s and the Pennsylvania Railroad at the Pavonia facility in what is now East Camden during the 1890s and early 1900s.  

By the the time the 1878 City Directory was compiled, George Horneff and family had moved to 267 Mount Vernon Street. The remained in this home through 1890. By the latter half of 1891 they had moved to 273 Mount Vernon Street

George Horneff was a Democrat, which probably had a great deal to do with his promotion within the Fire Department under Claudius Bradshaw and his leaving when Republican Samuel S. Elfreth was elected. In 1882 George Horneff ran for City Council from the Fifth Ward as a Democrat.

The 1900 Census has George and Emma Horneff, with daughter Mary, at 273 Mount Vernon Street. George Horneff was still working as a machinist.

Emma Horneff passed away on March 1, 1902 and was buried at Harleigh Cemetery. Her obituary states that she was active in the several fraternal organizations, and it is highly likely that George Horneff was active in the men's branches, specifically with the Lenni Lenape Tribe, No. 2 of the Improved Order of Red Men and the Brotherhood of the Union. 

In 1886 George Reeser Prowell wrote the following about Brotherhood of the Union's Lydia Darrah Home Communion, No 1 of which Emma Horneff was a member:

LYDIA DARRAH HOME COMMUNION, No. 1, meets in Mechanics’ Hall, Fourth and Spruce, and was instituted by S.W. George L. Toy, in Independence Hall, Fourth and Pine, May 12, 1867, when these officers were installed: G., Benjamin M. Braker; H.S.K., Wm. J. Maguire; P., Hannah G. Ivins; H.R., Sarah T. Winner; H.T., Philip Beaber. The Past Grand Guardians are: Hannah G. Ivins, Susanna Quinn and Elizabeth Portz, and the Past Guardians: Margaret Boyd, Margaret Caperoon, Mary E. Sloan, Missouri Pierce, Ruth A. Ross, Josiah Bozarth, Emma Knipe, Margaret Deith, Augusta Oeherle, Sarah Kirby, Rachel B. Stone, Elizabeth Eames, Annie Curtis, Lizzie Eames, Annie M. Quick, Mary M. Davis, Rachel Stephen, Benj. Smith, Isaac Warr, Emily Weldey, Elizabeth Cleaver, Elizabeth Stricker, Samuel W. Stivers, Keturah Tenner, Sarah Wiatt, Eliza J. Leibach, Elizabeth C. Butler, Margaret A. Davis, Mary Ore, Julia Coleman, Sallie Tracy, Emma J. Doyle.

The Home has had a useful life, and after assisting many has eight hundred dollars invested, with a membership of eighty-one. The officers for 1886 are: P.G., Mary Ore; G., Rachel Stephen; Pro., Benjamin Smith; Prophet, Maggie Caperoon; Prophetess, Emily Weldey; Priest, Mary J. Cooper; Priestess, Emma J. Doyle; H.S.K., Annie M. Quick; H.R., Rachel B. Stone; H.T., Elizabeth Cleaver; W.D., Clara Davis; W.N., Emma Horneff.

In 1886 George Reeser Prowell wrote the following about Lenni Lenape Tribe, No. 2

LENNI LENAPE TRIBE, No. 2, is the oldest existing tribe of the order in the State, and in numbers and wealth the strongest and richest in the United States. It was instituted May 10, 1850, by Great Incohonee William B. Davis, assisted by Francis Fullerton, of Lenni Lenape Tribe, No. 8, of Pennsylvania, and Great Chief of Records of the United States. These were the charter members: Nathaniel Chew, William F. Colbert, John T. Davis, Timothy C. Moore, Sylvester Rainhard, Joseph Shipley, Daniel S. Garwood, William Beckett, George Wood, E.D. Brister, John Wood, Joseph Myers, Albert Robertson, John W. Hoey, James B. Richardson, Robert Maguire, Joseph B. Hawkins, James O. Stillwell and Anthony Joline. The officers were as follows: P., Timothy C. Moore; S., Nathaniel Chew; S.S., John Wood; J.S., William F. Colbert; C. of R., Joseph Myers; K. of W., Albert Robertson.

Lenni Lenape has had an eventful career, at times flourishing and at other times so short of funds that a few faithful members paid expenses and benefits out of their private purses, but persistence won at last and a flood tide of prosperity set in, which has continued until the Lenni Lenapes number seven hundred and thirty-two and the wampum belt contains $21,370.89.

Among its members are these Past Great Sachems:’George W. Watson, John T. Davis, Charles H. Gordon, Thomas J. Francis and Daniel M. Stevens; and of its Past Sachems these are living: Timothy C. Moore, Henry A. Breyer, Lewis Zeigler, Samuel J. Fenner, Edward J. Steer, William F. Farr, Samuel D. Watson, George Horneff, George A. Cairoli (Brother of Mrs. Emma Horneff- PMC), Thomas J. Rowand, Samuel A. Owens, Benjamin M. Braker, Lambert Banes, George Pfeiffer, William Sheridan, Thomas F. Muckelson, Hope Sutton, James P. Moore, D.D. Worts, Leonard L. Roray, Benjamin J. Price, John A. Hall, B.S.M. Branning, Abraham Davis, Harry B. Garrison, Walter E. Garwood, George A. Rogers, William C. Davis, Frank P. Jackson, H. Frank Pettit, John A. Harbeson, John Quick, Angus B. Cameron, Lewis Z. Noble, George Leathwhite, Conrad F. Austermuhl, John K. Seagrove, Charles L. Vansciver, Harry Hoffman, Harry B. Tyler, James H. Reeve and George W. Davis. The officers are: P., G.W. Davis; S., Edward Francis; S.S., Samuel Baker; J.S., Joseph Watson; C. of R., L.Z. Noble; K. of W., C.F. Austermuhl; Trustees, T.J. Francis, T.F. Muckelson, J.K. Reeve, Leonard L. Roray and H.F. Pettit.

George Horneff was still living at 273 Mount Vernon Street when the 1906 Camden City Directory was compiled. In 1909 Mary Horneff married Eugene von Glahn, who was a clerk in the Hall of Records in the City of Brooklyn, New York. When the census was taken in 1900, George Horneff, now a widower, had left Camden and was living with his daughter and son-in-law at 539 75th Street in Brooklyn. George Horneff passed away in 1917.

Philadelphia Inquirer - March 24, 1890

George Meltz - Josiah Leonard - Kaighn Avenue
George Horneff - Farr & Bailey Oilcloth Works - Charles H. Peters

Philadelphia Inquirer
February 27, 1900

George Pfeiffer Jr.
Harry B. Paul
John S. Smith
Howard Carrow
Joseph Nowrey
John H. Irwin
James Noone
Lewis Holl
George Horneff
Ben Maloney
William Hollmon
William Jennings
Frank H. Powell
Abel Lewis
William Petzel
Thomas H. Cook






March 4, 1902

Philadelphia Inquirer - May 2, 1905

Philip Knauff - Charles H. Ellis - Adam T. Davis Jr. - George Horneff - Charles M. Baldwin
Broadway - Spruce Street