JOHN J. BROWN 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. 

John J. Brown was born in the United Kingdom, possibly in Ireland, in 1844 to Master and Mary Brown. His father was a blacksmith, and the family had only recently arrived in America when the 1850 Census was taken.

When the 1860 Census was taken, John Brown was living with and was apprenticed to John Stetser, a brickmaker who lived in Camden's South Ward. While learning the brickmaker's trade he met David Hart and his sons George B. Hart and Charles H. Hart. 

When the war broke out between the Northern and Southern states, John J. Brown came to his nation's call. He enlisted as a Sergeant on 25 April 1861 and was placed in Company G, 4th Infantry Regiment New Jersey on April 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.

John J. Brown was among those who mustered out with Company G, Fourth Infantry Regiment New Jersey on July 31, 1861 at Trenton, NJ. He reenlisted as a Corporal on August 9, 1861 and was sent to Company E, 6th Infantry Regiment New Jersey on August 26, 1861. 

The Sixth New Jersey Infantry Regiment was organized under the provisions of an act of Congress, approved July 22, 1861, and was fully organized, equipped and officered by August 19, at which time it was mustered into the U. S. service at Camp Olden, Trenton, for three years. It left the state on September 10, with 38 officers, 860 non-commissioned officers and privates, a total of 898. 
Upon arrival at Washington the regiment went into camp at Meridian hill, and remained there until the early part of December, at which time it was ordered to report to General Hooker, near Budd's ferry, Maryland, where it was brigaded with the 5th, 7th and 8th N. J., composing what was generally known as the 2nd New Jersey brigade, the 3d brigade, Hooker's division.

On May 2, 1862 John J. Brown was demoted to Full Private. On May 4th his regiment went into combat for the first time, at Williamsburg, Virginia. At the battle of Williamsburg, the brigade was sent into the left of a road and occupied a wood in front of a line of field-works. Among the killed was Lieutenant Colonel John P. Van Leer, and among the wounded were a large number of officers. 

At the battle of Fair Oaks the 5th and 6th moved forward under Colonel Starr, cutting their way through a mass of panic-stricken fugitives, the loss of the 6th being 7 killed and 14 wounded. 
The next morning the two regiments advanced and occupied the ground recovered from the enemy, where they remained until June 25, being almost constantly on duty at the front. In the combat at Savage Station, the New Jersey brigade was not directly engaged, but the 6th regiment had 2 men wounded by shells. At Bristoe Station Colonel Gershom Mott was badly wounded in the fore-arm, and in the series of engagements, ending at Chantilly on September 1, 1862, the regiment suffered a total loss of 104 men. The Sixth New Jersey Regiment then went into camp at Alexandria, Virginia. 

On October 2, 1862 John J. Brown was restored to the rank of Corporal. The brigade remained 
undisturbed until November 1 when, Lee having been driven from Maryland, it proceeded towards Bristoe Station, where it arrived on the 4th, the Fifth and Sixth regiments being in advance.

For the Chancellorsville affair in the spring of 1863, the New Jersey brigade, which at that time included the 2nd New York and 115th Pennsylvania regiments, as well as the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth New Jersey, N. J., all under command of General Mott, crossed the Rappahannock 
on Friday, May 1. The losses of the Sixth during the engagement amounted to 6 killed, 59 wounded and 8 missing, Colonel Burling being among the wounded. At the time of the battle of Gettysburg the 115th Pennsylvania and Second New Hamphire regiments were attached to the brigade, which was under the command of Colonel Burling, General Mott not having recovered from his wound received at Chancellorsville. At the battle of the Wilderness, at 5 o'clock in the morning of the second day, six regiments of the brigade advanced, the Fifth, Sixth and Eleventh New Jersey being placed under Colonel William Joyce Sewell. In the assault at Spottsylvania the brigade was in the front line, the Sixth acting as skirmishers. The total losses of the regiment during the months of May and June, 
1864, amounted to 16 killed, 99 wounded, 8 missing. In August and September, 1864, a large number of recruits were forwarded to the regiment, and with those who had reenlisted and those whose term of service had not expired, were assigned to what was known as Companies A, B and C, 6th battalion, until October 12, 1864, at which time they were transferred to and consolidated with 
the 8th regiment. By reason of such transfer the Sixth regiment as an organization ceased to exist. The total strength of the regiment was 1,485, and it lost, by resignation 26, by discharge 364, by promotion 53, by transfer 314, by death 180, by desertion 209, by dismissal 3, not accounted for 157, and 179 were mustered out at the end of the regiment's term of service.

John J. Brown was promoted to Full Sergeant on September 16, 1864. He was transferred into Company I, 8th Infantry Regiment New Jersey on October 12, 1864. The Eight New Jersey went back into combat towards the end of October, 1864. As part of the fighting at Hatcher's Run, the Eighth New Jersey engaged the enemy on October 27 at Boydton Plank Road, Virginia, the fought on five different occasions in November (the 3rd, 6th, 7th, 11th, and 30th) at Petersburg, Virginia before going into winter quarters. 

The Eighth New Jersey fought at Hatchers Run again on February 5 and 6, 1865, and again at Petersburg on the Boydton Plank Road on March 25, then again on March 31st at Hatcher's Run. The regiment fought twice more in April before the war came to a close, on April 2 on the Boydton Plank Road and on April 6 at Farmville, Virginia. 

Sergeant John J. Brown mustered out with Company I, 8th Infantry Regiment New Jersey on July 17, 1865 at Washington, DC. The 1890 Veterans Census states that he served for 4 years, 2 months, and 20 days beginning on April 27, 1861 and ending on July 20, 1865 however the July 17, 1865 date is from The Union Army, the official account of the Civil War and is correct.

John J. Brown returned to Camden and married on of the daughters of brickmaker David Hart. A son, William D. Brown, was born around 1867. Sadly, his mother appears to have died shortly after he was born. John J. Brown and his son were living with the Hart family at the end of the 1860s. The 1870 census shows no wife for John J. Brown, and does not elaborate on the relationship with the Hart family, who moved to Camden from Delaware. Whatever became of John J. Brown's wife, William's mother, is not known at this time.

As stated above, on December 7, 1869 John J. Brown entered service with the Camden Fire Department. Although Fire Department records state that prior to entering the fire department he had worked as a chemist, he previously had been a brickmaker's apprentice, the 1870 Census states that was a laborer, and by 1880 he owned a saloon. John J. Brown was living at 409 Walnut Street when he joined the department in the fall of 1869. The 1870 Census shows him living with his 3 year-old son, William D. Brown, at the home of Mrs. Mary Hart, the widow of David Hart. Also at that address were Mrs. Hart's sons Charles Hart and George B. Hart, both would serve with the Camden Fire Department in the 1870s. The Harts were still at 409 Walnut as late as the fall of 1872.

John J. Brown, Charles Hart, and George B. Hart all appear to have been volunteer fire fighters 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 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).


John J. Brown resigned from service with the Camden Fire Department on April 18, 1871. His brother-in-law Charles Hart had already joined Engine Company 1 as a replacement for James Sutton, and brother-in-law George B. Hart would soon join as a replacement for Cornelius M. Brown. John J. Brown was replaced by Stephen L. Thomas.

John J. Brown remarried in the early 1870s. His wife, the former Emma Harvey, gave birth to a daughter, Lizzie, around 1874. Emma Harvey was the sister of long-time Camden police office William "Bill" Harvey.

The 1878 Camden City Directory shows him living at 1018 South 5th Street, working as a police officer. When the Census was taken in 1880 John J. Brown, wife Emma, children William D. and Lizzie Brown, and sister-in-law Elizabeth Harvey were at 1018 South 5th Street. John J. Brown was now operating a bar, or as it was then referred to, a hotel. He was still at that address in 1881. By the middle of 1882 John J. Brown was living at 1102 South 4th Street, and was operating a bar at that address. This building remained in use as a tavern into the late 1990s, when it was known as The Cotton Club. John J. and Emma Brown were still living at 1102 South 4th Street as late as 1890. By 1892 they had returned to the house at 1018 South 5th Street. 

John J. Brown began receiving his Civil War invalid's pension in 1886. He died on March 16, 1898 at the age of 54, survived by his son and his widow. Emma Brown began collecting her Civil War widows' pension in April, 1898.

William D. Brown served in Camden's city government for many years, as secretary to the school board and later as city clerk.