416 Lawrence Street
Date of construction
At the back of three Cooper Street-facing properties (413 through 417), four two-story houses were added facing Lawrence Street during the late 1840s and early 1850s. The collective development of seven residences stood on land purchased in 1845 by Hannah Atwood, who lived at various times in one of the Cooper Street homes or in Philadelphia. When rented to others, the houses on Cooper and Lawrence Streets provided a steady income while Hannah’s husband, Jesse Atwood, pursued a career as a traveling portrait artist. He was best known for an 1847 portrait of General Zachary Taylor, the Mexican-American War hero who later became president of the United States.
416 Lawrence Street
A two-story, wood-frame house stood at 416 Lawrence Street from 1847 until 1884. Its status as a back building associated with 413 Cooper Street was described in an advertisement in the Philadelphia Public Ledger that offered both properties for sale on April 9, 1847: “For Sale – A modern built three-story Frame House, with two-story Back Building, with a choice lot of Fruit Trees in the yard.” An additional advertisement in December described the Lawrence Street house as “a small two-story Frame Building on the Alley, built about six months since.”
The absence of house numbering prior to 1861 prevents identifying tenants of 416 Lawrence Street in city directories in earlier years. However, one clue about unfortunate circumstances appeared in a Public Ledger advertisement in 1859. The notice sought an adoptive parent for “a healthy male Child nine months old” and directed inquiries to “Lawrence Street, first house above Fourth, between Cooper and Penn, Camden.” By 1865, tenants at 416 Lawrence included Sophia Fairfowl (or Fairfield), a widow; Abby Hammell, possibly also a widow; and Watson Wertsel (variously spelled Wartsel or Wertzell), a wheelwright and veteran of the Civil War. Wertsel’s household likely included his wife, Rebecca, whom he had married in 1860.
By 1870, 416 Lawrence Street had become home to a family of six people (plus an additional unrelated tenant) whose occupations reflected the significance of Camden in the region’s transportation networks and industrial growth. George Mapes, a white man 45 years old, born in New Jersey, worked as an engineer on one of the ferries that traversed the Delaware River between Camden and Philadelphia. His wife Rebecca, 40 years old, also white and born in New Jersey, kept house and raised their four children. She could not read or write, but that would not be the case for at least two of the next generation: Charles Mapes, age 8, and Sarah Mapes, 13, were both recorded by the 1870 Census as attending school. An older son, Jacob, age 15, was not in school that year and not recorded as working. An older daughter, Mary, age 20, worked in a pen factory—likely the Esterbrook Steel Pen factory on Cooper Street. Esterbrook, which crafted and shipped steel pen nibs around the world, signaled the future development of heavy industry on Camden’s waterfront. By 1876, new tenants at 416 Cooper Street, the McLaughlins, also included two women working at the pen factory.
By 1880, a new family at 416 Lawrence Street illustrated the changing composition of Camden’s population as people moved to the growing city. Martin Holahan (in other records, Hallahan or Hollahan), a 43-year-old white male, was born in Massachusetts. A Civil War veteran, he worked as a carpenter and headed a household of six other people: His wife, Sarah, a 26-year-old white woman, had been in born in Canada to parents who immigrated from England. Her mother, English-born Elizabeth Whartle, 54 years old and unable to read or write, lived with the family and worked in domestic service. Martin and Sarah’s family also included four children ranging from 9 months to 9 years old, the oldest two attending school.
Another carpenter, John Ferrell, lived at 416 Lawrence Street in the early 1880s, but during 1883 and 1884, the home was listed for sale. By this time, heirs of Hannah Atwood had sold her properties. The wood-framed 416 Lawrence Street and 413 Cooper Street transferred to a farmer-turned-inventor, Restore B. Lamb, who built a new brick house at 413 Cooper Street in 1883. By 1885, 416 Lawrence Street had been demolished. The lot stood vacant until the erection of a one-story garage sometime between 1926 and 1950. The garage documents the introduction of automobiles to Camden in the twentieth century.
Sanborn Insurance Maps, 1885-1950. U.S. Census, 1870 and 1880.
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