AUGUSTUS REEVE was born in Alloway, Salem County NJ in 1833. He came to Camden in 1866 and purchased the Pea Shore Brick Works, along the banks of the Delaware River north of Camden. He built it into a owned a large brick and terra cottas manufacturing business, and renamed it the Pea Shore Brick and Terra Cotta Works, with offices and a warehouse at 31 Market Street in Camden.
Augustus Reeve was followed to Camden by his brother, Richard H. Reeve and cousin Benjamin H. Reeve, who, in 1868 started a floor oil cloth manufacturing business in Camden. The two cousins also achieved great success in Camden.
Augustus Reeve was one of the original trustees of Cooper Hospital when it was organized in 1875, and was elected President of the Board of Managers upon the death of its first president, Alexander Cooper. Augustus Reeve served for twenty-five years as the hospital's President. Richard H. Reeve served as the Secretary and Treasurer during this period.
In March of 1890 Augustus Reeve purchased 12.41 acres along the Moorestown & Camden Turnpike (present day Main Street) near the Iron Bridge over Pennsauken Creek in Chester Township, present-day Maple Shade NJ. He established a brickworks there as well. This brick business was known as the Maple Shade Brickworks, and was later was operated by William Graham as part of the Graham Brick Yard. The brick-making industry kept a presence in Maple Shade until the area's clay ran out in 1956.
Augustus Reeve made his home at 301 State Street, in North Camden. Well respected in all affairs of business, he was appointed as receiver in April of 1904 of the Tradesman Building and Loan Association of Camden, when that institution was declared bankrupt.
While the book SPAN OF A CENTURY 1828-1928: 100 YEARS IN THE HISTORY OF CAMDEN AS A CITY reports that Augustus Reeve died on July 19, 1918 at the age of 85, he is listed in the January 1920 Census as living at 301 State Street. His son William F. Reeve and daughters Elizabeth and Laura were also residing there. William Reeve was the managing the brick works. By 1922 William and Elizabeth had moved to Moorestown. When Laura Reeve departed the family sold the house. By January of 1928 the old Reeve mansion had been abandoned, vandalized, and had become a haven for burglars and other miscreants.
Camden Courier-Post - January 26, 1928
LAID TO OLD MANSION AS THIEVES DEN
of city officials to heed repeated complaints that a deserted and
dilapidated mansion at Third
and State Streets is a
‘rendezvous of thieves, a haven for spooners, and a general
nightmare” was blamed today by residents of that neighborhood for
three robberies in one State
Street block in two weeks.
residents declared today that they have appealed to officials for help
without avail. They said that the former palatial residence of the
late Augustus Reeve,
brick manufacturer, has been a ‘den of thieves for some time. The
police have been apprised of the situation, they reported, but have
done nothing except “promise to investigate”.
have made public no reports of the three robberies that have occurred
in the one block in two weeks. The victims themselves said today that
city detectives told them “to keep quiet,” as release of any
information might interfere with the arrest of a certain young man
under suspicion in their own neighborhood.
The first robbery occurred at the home of Mr. and
Mrs. George T. Moore, 313 State
Street, on January 7. The Moore home is next to the
broken down mansion and only a few feet away. Thieves, watching from
the deserted house, whose side windows face those of the Moore
residence, ransacked the dwelling after the family left that night for
dinner at the home of friends. Entrance was gained by jimmying a side
window, and money, jewelry, and two overcoats belonging to Mrs.
Moore’s son, produce salesman, were stolen.
Rob Bonstedt Home
A second robbery occurred six days later on January 13, at the home of W.G Bonstedt,327 State Street, a few doors from the Moore home. The third was at 302 State Street, January 21. In the family’s absence, $250 and a number of silk dresses were stolen. This house is directly opposite the Reeve property.
“It was from the deserted old mansion, next door
to us, that the thieves watched our movements and waited until we had
left the house”, said Mrs. Moore today, “Them, when they saw we
would be away for the night, they broke in and robbed us. It was the
same case with the other two robberies in the block. The burglars
could see when the families were leaving the house- they had a good
view from their hiding place. Having no police protection, the owners
of the ransacked houses were at their mercy.”
Moore said police have been told “time and
again” that the abandoned mansion at the corner is a “public
nuisance,” and that “it is frequented by thieves, spooners, and
tramps.” He said the condition has existed since relatives of the
late brick manufacturer moved out of the place five years ago, but
city officials have ignored all complaints made by residents of the
neighborhood. The place was sold to other parties and a “for rent”
sign had been on it for a long period.
Declared a Menace
“Not only do thieves and other undesirables make
their rendezvous there, but the property is used for immoral
purposes” Moore asserted. “It is one of the worst menaces in the
city, both from a sanitary and a moral standpoint. Women—except the
class that has gone there to spoon— fear to go near the place by
night, and the neighborhood in general has suffered considerably
because city officials have failed to take steps to have the nuisance
eliminated. It is a disgraceful condition, and the authorities should
see to it that the owners be compelled to board up the property at
once. Otherwise it will continue to strike terror in the hearts of the
residents of the neighborhood, many of whom express the fear that
unless something is done before long, more robberies might occur, or
the old building might go up in flames and perhaps damage theirs and
other property nearby.”
Moore declared that increasing robberies in the
neighborhood might have been averted had the police been more alert,
“Laxity of the Camden police department in
giving residents of our neighborhood adequate protection was plainly
evident in the three robberies in the one block in two weeks,” Moore
said. “I have not seen one policeman near my home for more than a
year, neither morning, noon, or night. I understand, however, that two
or three members of the force live in this very neighborhood, and that
one of them passes the old mansion every day. Why they, or the men
assigned to this beat, have not had their superiors take some action
on the corner property I cannot understand
To Be Own Policemen
“As for myself, I will shoot the first man to make another attempt to burglarize our home. If the police won’t help us, I suppose the best thing we can do is to be our own policemen and protect ourselves.
Similar complaints were made by other residents of the neighborhood who requested that their names be withheld, as they feared political reprisals and in one case loss of business, if it were known that they criticized any of the city officials.
In the meantime, a number of those interviews
reported that plans are being made for the circulation of a petition,
to be presented to the city commissioners, requesting them to take
steps to have the abandoned mansion- which they termed a
“nightmare” ”—locked against invasion by the thieves and other
undesirables who have been making the ramshackle building their
The property is directly across from the James N.
Cassady School, and part of its exterior d covered with theater
The building to which the
Cassady School pupils
allude as “the haunted house,” in the time of its occupancy by the
Reeves was the center of many noted social gatherings. Most of its
windows have been broken by boys and other marauders have torn away
the staircase and ripped the plaster from its walls.
Surviving members of the Reeve family, who had lived
there, left the mansion after Mr.
Reeve died; and the place has
been gradually falling to ruin since. According to residents of the
neighborhood, it is today not only a menace, but “one of the
city’s worst eyesores”.
Thanks to Dennis Weaver for information concerning Augustus Reeve's Maple Shade connection.
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