CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY

West Jersey Orphanage
Hunton Branch, YMCA
1320 South 6th Street
Northeast Corner of South 6th Street & Mechanic Streets
South Camden Branch, YMCA
South 6th Street & Liberty Street

The West Jersey Orphanage was chartered February 17, 1874. The home was organized by the Society of Friends and its object was to provide a home for destitute colored children. Founders included Camden businessman John Cooper and his wife Mary. Joseph M. Kaighn donated three lots of ground at Oak and Chestnut Streets, and the three adjoining lots were purchased. Subsequently, however, it was decided to purchase of James W. Purnell the two story brick building, erected by Joseph Kaighn for a farmhouse, at 6th and Mechanic Streets, together with one-half acre of land adjoining. The building was opened for the reception of colored children January 20, 1875

Dr. Isaac B. Mulford was the first physician for the new Orphanage. Upon his death in November of 1882, he was succeeded by Dr. Sophia Presley, Camden's first female doctor. It was her first official appointment, and an important step in her seven year struggle for recognition by the local and county medical societies. 

In the 1890s founder John Cooper's son, prominent Camden lawyer Howard M. Cooper, was President of the West Jersey Orphanage. His wife Lucy Cooper was president of the Board of Managers. Dr. Presley also sat on this Board in 1894.   

The West Jersey Orphanage operated at 1320 South 6th Street until the 1920s. Children who previously were housed there found housing at the Camden Home for Friendless Children at 915 Haddon Avenue. The building that was the home of the West Jersey Orphanage became the home of the Hunton Branch of the YMCA.

In the late 1930s and early 1940s there were a few long-term lodgers at the Hunton Branch of the YMCA, including Henry Williams, Augustus Rowland, and Clarence D. Leigh.

Philadelphia Inquirer - February 5, 1894

West Jersey Orphanage for Destitute Colored Children
Thomas M.K. Lee Post No. 5, Grand Army of the Republic G.A.R.

Philadelphia Inquirer - November 10, 1898

West Jersey Orphanage for Destitute Colored Children

Philadelphia Inquirer - April 16, 1899
Click on Image for Complete Article

West Jersey Orphanage for Destitute Colored Children
Howard M. Cooper - Edward L. Farr - Susan S. Wood
Alexander C. Wood - Rebecca C.W. Reeve
Dr. Alexander McAlister - Lucy S. Cooper

Philadelphia Inquirer - July 8, 1900
West Jersey Orphanage

Philadelphia Inquirer - December 21, 1902
West Jersey Orphanage - Camden Home for Friendless Children
Camden Lodge 293 Benevolent Protective Order of Elks

Philadelphia Inquirer - December 4, 1917

Arthur Colsey - James E. Tatem - Charles T. Humes
Edward S. Hyde - Thomas Cunningham - Elbridge B. McClong
Charles Whaland - Howard Smith - Ralph Bond - John Develin
Camden Day Nursery -
Camden Home for Friendless Children
West Jersey Orphanage - Mary J. Ball Nursery
West Jersey Hospital - Y.M.C.A. War Fund
S.P.C.C. - The Associated Charities

Camden Courier-Post * June 26, 1950

CORNERSTONE OF THE NEW South Camden Branch YMCA was cemented in place Sunday at Sixth and Liberty streets by Edward T. Bowser, of Newark, most worshipful grand master of the Prince Hall affiliation of the New Jersey District Grand Lodge F&AM. Watching Bowser at the ceremony, left to right, are Charles H. Wagner, president of the Camden YMCA; Albert K. Flournoy, executive secretary of the branch; William P. Partenheimer, general secretary of the Camden YMCA;  an unidentified member of a team from the grand lodge, who assisted Bowser; Dr. J.C. Jones, a member of the branch's committee of management and W. Arthur Jones, chairman of the membership committee.

A branch of the Young Men's Christian association was founded in 1920 with Dr. Clement T. Branch as its first chairman. It was originally called the Hunton Branch until 1948 when it was renamed the South Camden Branch. Dr. Branch served as chairman until his death in 1933. He was succeeded by Dr. J. M. Vaughan. Who served until his resignation in 1943. The name was changed in 1948. Albert Flournoy became executive secretary in 1921 and served in that capacity for over 30 years.. 

The Hunton Branch was organized by prominent citizens in Camden's black community, which at the time was about 7% of the city's population. In these times many public institutions were segregated and it was determined that there was a need for such a YMCA branch in South Camden, where three of the larger black neighborhoods were located.

By 1930 the Hunton Branch had occupied the building which had been occupied by the West Jersey Orphanage. It occupied this building until late 1950, when a new building at South 6th and Liberty Streets was completed. 

The South Camden Branch of the YMCA operated at South 6th and Liberty Streets until the early 1970s. It was gone by 1977. 

Camden Courier-Post - June 26, 1950

300 Attend Rites As Stone Is Laid At South Camden Y

The cornerstone of the new South Camden Branch YMCA, now under construction at Sixth and Liberty Streets, was laid at ceremonies Sunday afternoon. More than 300 persons attended.

Edward T. Bowser of Newark, most worshipful grand master of the Prince Hall affiliation of the New Jersey District Grand Lodge , F&AM  placed the stone. He was assisted by a team from the grand lodge.

Speakers included Charles H. Wagner, president of the Camden YMCA; Dr. Howard W. Brown, chairman of the committee of management of the South Camden branch; the Rev. E. Donovan Jones, pastor of Collingswood Presbyterian Church: J. B. Redman, associate secretary of the Central Atlantic Area Council YMCA: W. Arthur Jones, chairman of the membership committee of the branch; the Rev. Charles S. Lee, pastor of Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church; William P. Partenheimer, general secretary of the Camden YMCA; and Albert E. Flournoy, executive secretary of the branch.

History in Stone

Leonardo J. List., chairman of board of trustees of the Y, presided. The Rev Nelson. M. Hoffman, president of the Council of Churches of Greater Camden, offered the invocation, and the Rev. William Ghee, pastor of Eighth Street Methodist Church, pronounced benediction. Music was provided by the Temple Trumpeteers.

Items placed in the cornerstone included the history of the South Camden branch, program of the ground breaking ceremony, copy of the annual report, list of subscribers to the new building, campaign list of the membership, names of the board of directors and of the trustees.

Also the committee of management, new building committee, program of cornerstone laying, autographed Bible, folders used during new building fund campaign, names of the woman's auxiliary, Smith Camden 'Y branch committee, letter of posterity, roster of secretaries at Central YMCA. supplementary member list, types of membership list, personnel of South Camden branch, and a newspaper article on the groundbreaking ceremony March 26.

The new building, which will cost more than $200,000, will be of one story brick design, and will house dormitories, activities and recreation rooms. About 30 men will be accommodated in the new dormitories. 

To Accommodate 1000

The building which will be for the use of all groups, will have a combination auditorium and gymnasium to accommodate 1000 persons. Completion is scheduled for November.

Contributions are still being received to furnish the new building, Flournoy said. 

The branch now is housed in the building of the West Jersey Orphanage at Sixth and Mechanic streets. The branch, formerly called Hunton branch, YMCA, was founded in 1920 with the late Dr. C.T. Branch as first chairman. At that time, Arthur E. Armitage was general secretary of the Camden county YMCA which played an important part in the organization of the branch.

Dr. Branch served as chairman until his death in 1933. He was succeeded by Dr. J. M. Vaughan, who served until his resignation in 1943. The name was changed in 1948. Flournoy has been executive secretary since 1921. William R. Knighten is boys work secretary.

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