HENRY F. SURAULT served as the third Chief of the Camden Fire Department, taking charge when Robert S. Bender took a leave of absence in September of 1872. 

Henry F. Surault was born in Massachusetts in August of 1838 to Francois and Sarah Surault. The family had come to Camden by 1860. The Census shows them living in Camden's Middle Ward, where Francis Surault, born in France, was a language teacher, and had written and published a number of books on the subject. Henry Surault worked as a silver plater.

On April 25, 1861 Henry F. Surault enlisted in the Union Army as a Corporal. He was assigned to Company G, Fourth Infantry Regiment New Jersey on April 27, 1861. 

The Fourth Regiment--Militia, was commanded by Colonel Matthew Miller, Jr., serving under him were Lieutenant Colonel Simpson R. Stroud and Major Robert C. Johnson. This regiment was mustered into the U. S. service at Trenton, April 27, 1861, to serve for three months, and left the state for Washington, D. C., on May 3, with 37 commissioned officers and 743 non-commissioned officers and privates, a total of 777. On the evening of May 5 it reached the capital, and on the 9th it was ordered to go into camp at Meridian hill, where, within a few days the entire brigade was encamped, and where, on the 12th, it was honored by a visit from the president, who warmly complimented the appearance of the troops. On the evening of May 23 it joined the 2nd and 3d regiments and about midnight took up the line of march in silence for the bridge that spanned the Potomac. This bridge was crossed at 2 o'clock on the morning of the 24th, the 2nd was posted at Roach's spring, and the 3d and 4th about half a mile beyond on the Alexandria 
road. On July 16, a guard was detailed from the 4th for a section of the Orange & Alexandria railroad, which it was important to hold; one company from the regiment guarded the Long bridge; still another was on duty at Arlington mills; and the remainder of the regiment, together with the 2nd, was ordered to proceed to Alexandria. On July 24, the term of service having expired, the 4th returned to New Jersey and was mustered out at Trenton, July 31, 1861. The total strength of the regiment was 783, and it lost by discharge 6, by promotion 2, by death 2 and by desertion 7, mustered out, 766.

Henry F. Surault was among those who mustered out with Company G, Fourth Infantry Regiment New Jersey on July 31, 1861 at Trenton, NJ. 

Several men who served with Company G became members of the Camden Fire Department after it was founded in 1869, including William Mines, J. Kelly Brown, Benjamin Cavanaugh, Edward Mead, William Cox, James M. Lane, and William Gleason. Other Fourth Infantry men who served included Theodore A. Zimmerman, Charles G. Zimmerman, William C. Lee, George B. Anderson, Jesse Chew, William H.H. Clark, Cornelius M. Brown, John J. Brown, Benjamin Connelly, and G. Rudolph Tenner. Several other Fourth Infantry veterans played significant roles in Camden in the ensuing years.

If they hadn't already been involved, Henry Surault and several of his companions became involved in volunteer firefighting in Camden. 

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 W. 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.

When the 1870 Census was taken, Henry Surault was working as a salesman. He was married, and his wife Merinda had a son from a previous marriage, William H. Brassell, born in Pennsylvania around 1854. They were living with his parents at 549 South 2nd Street. The Suraults lived next door to Claudius Bradshaw, and three doors away from Abraham Bradshaw. Claudius Bradshaw would serve as the Chief of the Camden Fire Department before the decade ended, and was elected Mayor of Camden twice after that. Abraham Bradshaw was one of the original members of the Camden Fire Department, serving with Engine Company 2.

Chief Abels was replaced by Robert S. Bender as Chief of the Fire Department on September 2, 1871. When Bender took a leave of absence in September of 1872, despite a petition for him to be kept on as chief, Henry F. Surault was elected by city council to lead the department. Patrick Gallagher and Isaac McKinley were appointed Assistant Chiefs, replacing Assistant Chiefs William W. Mines and William H. Shearman. A greater crisis occurred on October 8, 1872 when most of the regular members members of Engine Company 2 resigned at once. Replacements were found quickly, although in a few cases the first ones brought in did not work out and another man was needed to replace the original replacement. John J. Olden was also brought in as Assistant Chief of the Second Fire District in November, replacing Patrick Gallagher.

On a positive note, during his time in the Department Henry F. Surault convinced the Fire Commission to purchase hand extinguishers which he then placed strategically at Mr. Paul Anderson's, Broadway and Kaighns Point Avenue; J.S. Henry’s office at Eighth and Walnut Streets; William Ross' store on Central Avenue; and at the Flat Iron Tavern (and Hotel) at Broadway and Ferry Avenue. Each location received one fire extinguisher. 

The Camden Fire Department fought a devastating fire which began on the Morning of February 24, 1873 when a railroad employee dropped a match in the inspector's room of a railway building on South 2nd Street below Bridge Avenue. Within minutes the oil soaked floor ignited and flames engulfed the structure. Strong northwest winds extended the fire to a storage shed filled with freight. Responding fire companies could not stop the rapidly spreading fire. Five frame dwellings on the north side of Weathersby's Court, some sheds in the railroad car yard, three frame dwellings on Reed's Court, two additional dwellings and numerous outbuildings became involved. Chief Surault telegraphed to Philadelphia for six engine companies which responded by special ferry. Three apparatus were placed in service while the balance of the manpower was used for fire control.  

Robert S. Bender returned to the Camden Fire Department in April of 1873. seven experienced men who had resigned were reappointed on April 8, 1873 - Engineers G. Rudolph Tenner and William S. Davis, Stokers Henry Grosscup and William Gordon, Drivers George Leibecke and Jacob Kellum, and Tillerman Edward Dodamead. Another driver, William Young, also began that day.

The 1878 City Directory shows Henry Surault working as a laborer. The 1879-1880 Directory indicates that he took another career path as he was working aboard ship as a deck hand. He was still living at 549 South 2nd Street when the 1879 Directory was compiled.

1880 Cenus shows Henry Surault and family at 547 South 2nd Street. He was then working as a laborer. Also at home were his widowed mother Sarah, wife Merinda, step-son William H. Brassell, 16, and a boarder, Thomas McCann, 17.

The 1881-1882 Directory shows Henry Surrault and step-son William, who had taken the Surrault name, as deck hands, living at 412 Mickle Street. Henry Surault was still at 412 Mickle Street in the 1882-1883 Directory. William had moved to 443 South 2nd Street and was working as a laborer. The 1883-1884 Directory has both men living at 412 Mickle Street once again. Henry F. Surault is now listed as a Captain, working for the Pennsylvania Railroad. Later directories indicate that he was the captain of one of the Pennsylvania Rail Road's tug boats. William Surault left Camden by 1887. Henry Surault was still living at 412 Mickle Street as late as 1888.

The 1890-1891 Directory shows that Henry Surault had moved to 546 South 2nd Street. he was still working as a tugboat captain, and also had a cigar store. The cigar store venture did not pan out, however. By 1892 Henry Surault had moved to 450 South 2nd Street and was working exclusively as a tugboat captain for the Pennsylvania Railroad. He was still at that address into late 1893. The 1897 Directory shows Henry Surault at 301 Stevens Street. The 1898 Directory states that he lived at 754 Federal Street.

The 1900 Census shows Henry Surault still employed as a tugboat pilot. He was by then a widower, and was boarding with James Finnan, a telegraph lineman, and his wife Mary. James Finnan had lived in the same neighborhood as Henry Surault for many years.

By 1906 Henry Surault and the Finnans had left Camden. The Finnans had moved to Fieldsboro, in Burlington County, New Jersey. Henry Surault went with them, and boarded with them. The Census for 1910 lists the Finnans and Henry Surault in Fieldsboro. The 1920 Census shows that James Finnan had passed away. His widow, Mrs. Mary Finnan, and Henry Surault, then 81 years of age, were living in Finnan's Court in Fieldsboro. Both apparently passed away during the 1920s. 

Henry F. Surault was buried at Old Camden Cemetery. His tombstone recognizes his Civil War service, unfortuantely, it is undated.

Philadelphia Public Ledger
September 27, 1872
Click on Images for Complete Article

Robert S. Bender - Henry F. Surault
Isaac McKinley - Patrick Gallagher
Thomas A. WIlson - B.M. Morgan - Robert C. Cook

Philadelphia Inquirer
October 5, 1872

Philadelphia Inquirer
October 12, 1872

Philadelphia Public Ledger - December 19, 1872
Thomas A. Wilson
Henry F. Surault
Paul Anderson
James S. Henry
William Ross
Joseph Swing
Engine Company 2
Thomas McLaughlin
William H. Doughten
William Bassett
Charles Lawyer
Christopher Turner
Edward H. Mead
John Graham
F.W. Tarr

Philadelphia Inquirer - February 25, 1873



Philadelphia Inquirer
April, 1877

James Parsons - William D. Middleton - Richard Perks
Henry F. Surault

Civil War Pension Record