Franklin, Joshua B.

Title

Franklin, Joshua B.

Description

Originally a livery stable operator, Joshua Franklin's life on Cooper Street spanned to the age of the automobile.

Biographical Text

Joshua B. (for Benjamin) Franklin, who purchased 415 Cooper Street as well as the adjacent 417 Cooper Street in 1903, was a livery stable operator whose lifetime spanned to the age of the automobile.

Franklin, born in 1861, moved from his family's farm in Burlington County to Camden during the city's fast-growing 1880s, when he was 21. He went to work for his uncle Joseph Franklin at the livery stable on Second Street between Cooper and Market and continued the business after his uncle's death. The Franklins became well known in Camden as they rented horses and carriages to the city's social and political elite. The business had a good location close to the Delaware River ferry crossings to Philadelphia and apparently yielded a good living, as Joshua Franklin purchased two other homes, at 224 Linden Street and 116 Cooper Street, before acquiring 415 and 417 Cooper. He joined fraternal organizations, including Lodge 15 of the Free and Accepted Masons.

Franklin and his family lived in 415 Cooper while renting out the house next door. He improved the properties by adding wood front porches, in keeping with similar additions elsewhere on the block. He may have added the bay windows to the second and third floors, which are evident in an aerial photograph of Camden taken c. 1926 but not in a photograph of the block earlier in the twentieth century.

When Franklin moved into 415 Cooper Street, his family consisted of his wife of 15 years, Mollie, and their 4-year-old daughter Edith. He was a notable enough in the community to cause his daughter's fifth birthday party to be reported in the Camden Courier Post. His personal fortunes soon took a tragic turn, however. Little Edith contracted typhoid fever and died in February 1907 at the age of 8, news that "came as a painful shock to various sections of the city where the family is well known," the Courier-Post lamented. By the end of the same year, Mollie Franklin also died, from the effects of a longstanding heart ailment. She was 38 years old.

In the wake of these personal tragedies Joshua Franklin remained at 415 Cooper Street, and his community connections may explain the prominent tenants he attracted to his investment property next door: the dentist Elmer Bower, for example, and the medical inspector for Camden schools, Henry Davis. In 1909, Joshua Franklin was married for a second time, to Chellie Smith, a widow who had been working as a saleswoman for several years since her husband's death. Joshua and Chellie continued to live at 415 Cooper Street for the next 25 years, at times renting rooms to others.

At the livery stable, Joshua Franklin suffered two serious injuries: in 1913, a severely broken arm that was treated by Dr. E.A.Y. Schellenger at Fifth and Cooper Streets, and in 1914 a near-electrocution that occurred during a Nor'easter when a live wire fell onto a telephone before Franklin picked up the receiver. The burns required treatment at Cooper Hospital.

The appearance of automobiles in Camden during the first two decades of the twentieth century brought change and eventually the end of Franklin's livery stable. As his customers preferred their new automobiles to carriages pulled by horses, Franklin's business dealt more often with commercial clients, such as the city newspapers who still used horses to pull their delivery trucks. Franklin himself entered the automobile business with partners between 1921 and 1923, but by then in his 60s he retired and closed the stables as well. He continued to live at 415 Cooper Street with his wife, Chellie, until he died at home in 1938. In reporting his death, the Camden Morning Post recounted how his 78 years of life had spanned the age of liverymen to the age of the automobile.

Time period on Cooper Street

1900-38

Location(s) - Cooper Street

116 Cooper Street (1900-3)
415 Cooper Street (residence, 1903-38)
417 Cooper Street (rental property, 1903-38)

Location(s) - Other

Second Street between Cooper and Market (livery stable)
224 Linden Street (home prior to 1900)
39 N. Fourth Street and 47 N. Third Street (automobile businesses)
Burlington County (boyhood home)

Occupation

Livery stable operator
Automobile dealer

Birth Date

October 1861

Birthplace

Burlington County, New Jersey

Death Date

February 21, 1938, at home, 415 Cooper Street; burial in Harleigh Cemetery.

Associated Individuals

Mollie Campbell Franklin (first wife)
Edith Campbell (daughter)
Chellie Jones Smith Franklin (second wife)
Etta Smith Eppler (daughter of second wife)
George Franklin (brother)
S.R. Franklin (brother)
Joseph Franklin (uncle)
Mrs. Joseph Johnson (sister)
Conly D. Brooks (partner in automobile business, 1921)
Residents of 417 Cooper Street, 1903-38, see Cooper Street Database.

Sources

Camden City Directories, New Jersey and U.S. Census Records, 1900-1940 (Ancestry.com)
Camden County Property Records
Camden Newspapers, 1900-1952 (Newspapers.com)

Research by

Charlene Mires

Posted by

Charlene Mires
Send corrections to cmires@camden.rutgers.edu

Collection

Citation

“Franklin, Joshua B.,” Learning From Cooper Street, accessed October 1, 2022, https://omeka.camden.rutgers.edu/items/show/46.

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