Lee was born in Pennsylvania around 1844, the son of Thomas McKane Lee
and his wife Eliza. The family had moved to Camden's Middle Ward by the
spring of 1850.
is unclear as to where Howard Lee was when the Census was taken in 1860.
However, when the Civil War broke out in April of 1861, four of his
brothers, Richard H. Lee, Thomas
McKane Lee Jr., Joseph Lee, and William C. Lee
soon answered their
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
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.
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
the 1st District. On October 29, 1869 City Council authorized
construction of a two-story brick building on the northwest corner of Fifth and
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.
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.
is the earliest known photo of fire headquarters on the northwest
corner of Fifth and
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
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.
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.
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
new members of the paid force were:
Lee were brothers. Robert
Lower and Assistant
Chief Engineer William H. Shearman
were brother-in-law, Charles
and his brother Theodore A.
Zimmerman, also a charter member of the Camden Fire Department, were
brothers-in-law of Chief William
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).
Board of Fire Commissioners consisted of Rudolphus Bingham, Chairman and
Samuel C. Harbert, Richard Perks, Jonathon Kirkbride and Jacob Daubman.
helmet of natural grain believed to have been worn by Fireman
Charles Baldwin, Hook
& Ladder Company 1 when paid force was organized in
1869. Number 21 at bottom of frontpiece indicates member's badge
number. (Courtesy of the Camden County Historical Society
salaries for the members of the paid force were: Chief Marshal, $800;
Assistant Marshal, $200; Engineer, $600; Driver, $450; Stoker, $450;
Tillerman, $450; Extra Men, $50. All but Extra Men were paid monthly.
stated above Howard Lee was one of the original members of the Camden Fire Department,
entering service on September 2, 1869 as as extra man of the
& Ladder Company, the original designation of what is now
He had worked as a letter carrier in Camden in the late 1860s, a job
secured through the offices of his older brother Richard H. Lee, who was
postmaster in Camden for sixteen years.
Howard Lee was living
at the northwest corner of North 3rd Street and
Plum Street when he joined the
department in the fall of 1869. Plum Street was later re-named
Arch Street. This was the home of his brother Richard H. Lee.
When the Census was taken in 1870 the household consisted of Richard
H. Lee and his wife Ann, their children Thomas, Samuel, Harry, Matilda,
and Ulysses Grant "Ulie" Lee, and brothers Howard Lee and
Joseph C. Lee. Howard was working as a letter carrier, Joseph C. Lee as
Lee was removed from service with the Camden Fire Department on
September 5, 1871. He married in the mid-1870s and moved to 406 Federal
Street, where he opened up a stationary shop called Lee &
Company. He also later established a house furnishings store at 336 Federal
Street. When the 1880 Census was taken, Howard Lee was living with
his wife Martha, 23, and their children Walter, Emma, and Lewis
Lee. They stayed at 406 Federal
Street into 1884. The 1885 Camden City Directory shows the family at
413 South 3rd
Street. The 1887-1888 and 1888-1889 City Directories show that the family resided at 596 Carman
Street. Howard Lee and family returned to 406 Federal
Street by 1890 and stayed there into 1897. By 1898 they had moved to 447 Benson
Street, where they still made there home as late as 1910.
January of 1920 Howard and Martha Lee had moved to 520 Haddon Avenue
where they lived with their son Walter and daughter Emma. The family
stationary business had closed during the 1910s and Walter Lee had gone
into the construction business. Walter Lee later worked as an
investigator for the New Jersey Bureau of Taxation.
stated above, Howard Lee and
his brother William C. Lee
were both charter members of the Camden Fire Department. Howard Lee's
brother Richard H. Lee had been a Colonel during the Civil War, served
as Camden's postmaster for sixteen years, and commanded the Sixth
Regiment, New Jersey National Guard for a time. Brother Joseph C. Lee
had also been a Colonel in the Civil War and had worked as court clerk
in Camden. The Thomas M.K. Lee
Post No. 5 of the G.A.R. in Camden was named after another brother, Thomas
M.K. Lee. Howard Lee's son Lewis
A. Lee worked for forty years in the Camden Board of
Health office, after being sponsored in the job by Dr. Henry
H. Davis, for whom the Henry
Davis Elementary School, and Dr.
Marcus K. Mines.