Cavanaugh was born in Canada in March of 1843 to Matthew and Elizabeth
Cavanaugh. The 1850 Census indicates that the Cavanaughs had relocated
to Pennsylvania, where siblings John
and Sarah were born, before coming
over to New Jersey. Sister Mary Cavanaugh was born in 1849. The census
shows the family living in Camden's South Ward. Young Benjamin Cavanaugh
would start an apprenticeship as a bootmaker during the 1850s
1860 Census shows the family still living in Camden's South Ward, Two
more children had been born, sons and Matthew Jr. and Joseph
the Civil War came, Benjamin Cavanaugh answered his nation's call. On
April 25, 1861 Benjamin Cavanaugh enlisted in the Union Army as a
Corporal. He was assigned to Company G, Fourth Infantry Regiment New
Jersey on April 27, 1861.
Fourth Regiment--Militia, was commanded by Colonel Matthew Miller, Jr.,
serving under him were Lieutenant Colonel Simpson R. Stroud and Major
Robert C. Johnson. This regiment was mustered into the U. S. service at
Trenton, April 27, 1861, to serve for three months, and left the
state for Washington, D. C., on May 3, with 37 commissioned
officers and 743 non-commissioned officers and privates, a total of 777.
On the evening of May 5 it reached the capital, and on the 9th it was
ordered to go into camp at Meridian hill, where, within a few days the
entire brigade was encamped, and where, on the 12th, it was honored
by a visit from the president, who warmly complimented the
appearance of the troops. On the evening of May 23 it joined the
2nd and 3d regiments and about midnight took up the line of march
in silence for the bridge that spanned the Potomac. This bridge was
crossed at 2 o'clock on the morning of the 24th, the 2nd was posted
at Roach's spring, and the 3d and 4th about half a mile beyond on the
road. On July 16, a guard was detailed from the 4th for a section
of the Orange & Alexandria railroad, which it was important to
hold; one company from the regiment guarded the Long bridge; still
another was on duty at Arlington mills; and the remainder of the
regiment, together with the 2nd, was ordered to proceed to
Alexandria. On July 24, the term of service having expired, the 4th
returned to New Jersey and was mustered out at Trenton, July 31, 1861.
The total strength of the regiment was 783, and it lost by
discharge 6, by promotion 2, by death 2 and by desertion 7,
mustered out, 766.
Benjamin Cavanaugh was among those who mustered out with Company G,
Fourth Infantry Regiment New Jersey on July 31, 1861 at Trenton,
men who served with Company G became members of the Camden Fire
Department after it was founded in 1869, including William
W. Mines, J.
Kelly Brown, Henry F.
Surault, Edward Mead, William
M. Lane, and William
Gleason. Other Fourth Infantry men who served
A. Zimmerman, Charles
G. Zimmerman, William
C. Lee, George B.
H.H. Clark, Cornelius
M. Brown, John
J. Brown, Benjamin
Connelly, and G.
Rudolph Tenner. Several other Fourth Infantry veterans played
significant roles in Camden in the ensuing years.
they hadn't already been involved before going into the Army, Benjamin
Cavanaugh and several of his
companions became involved in volunteer firefighting in Camden after
the census was taken in 1870, Matthew Cavanaugh Sr. had passed away.
Mary Cavanaugh had married Christopher Mines
Jr., who would go on to a
long and distinguished career in Camden politics and government. Mines'
Mines, was an Assistant Fire Marshal with the Camden Fire
Department, and had served with Benjamin Cavanaugh during the Civil War.
He may well have been instrumental in securing Cavanaugh's appointment
to the Fore Department. Cavanaugh's widowed mother, Mary Cavanaugh, with
her sons John
and Matthew, lived with Christopher
and Mary Mines, and
their 10-month old son, Marcus
K. Mines, according to the census sheet, which was taken by J.
Kelly Brown, another Civil War comrade and member of the Camden Fire
Department. (Note: As of February 3, 2011 Benjamin Cavanaugh's 1870
census record has not been located- PMC).
Fire Department records show that from
the time he was appointed to the Camden Fire Department in 1871 through at least
the spring of 1874, Benjamin Cavanaugh lived at 53 South 4th
May 4, 1875 he had moved to 324 Hamilton
Street. Hamilton Street was
later renamed Berkley
Street. The 1878 City Directory has Benjamin Cavanaugh living at 311
Street, and he was still living at 311 Division
Street when rejoined the Camden Fire Department in 1879.
the 1880 Census Benjamin Cavanaugh was counted twice, three days apart,
by the same census enumerator, George Bundick. Benjamin Cavanaugh was listed
on June 18, 1870 at
Street, as a member of the fire department, with wife his
wife Sarah and sister Fannie. He had been listed on June 15, 1873 as living at 265
Pine Street, the home of
his brother-in-law Christopher Mines
Jr. Also listed at 265 Pine
Street is his brother,
Joseph Cavanaugh, then laid up with a broken leg, and their mother.
Benjamin Cavanaugh is listed in the 1881-1882 City Directory, compiled
after he had left the Fire Department for the last time, as a moulder,
living at 311 Division
1883-1884, and 1885-1888 Directories list Benjamin Cavanaugh at 279 Liberty
Street, working as a moulder. In the 1881-1882 edition, he is
working at the Camden Iron Works. His employer in the 1885-1888
Directory is Wood & Company. He stayed at 279 Liberty
into 1888. The 1890-1891 Directories show the Cavanaugh brothers at 1012
The 1891-1892 Directory states that
both Benjamin and Joseph
Cavanaugh had "removed to
Philadelphia". The 1892-1893 Directory, however, gives an address
of 815 South
6th Street, Camden. He had gone back to work for the Camden Iron
Works. Benjamin Cavanugh is listed in City Directories though the
1894-1895 edition at 815 South
6th Street. The 1895-1896 Directory gives
an address of 812 Cammer's Court, which ran south from 512 Pine
Street next to Turner's Hall.
November 1896 news article has Benjamin Cavanaugh at 811 Clare
1897 and 1898 City Directories show Benjamin Cavanaugh at 433 Division
Street, and state that he was living with a woman, presumably his
wife, named Emma. They were at 405 Division
Street in the 1899 City Directory. The
1900 Census has Benjamin Cavanaugh boarding at 230 Division
home of Emma Clare. It is likely that he had been living with Emma for
at least 3 years prior to the Census, i.e., the Emma in the City
Directory and the Emma in the Census were one and the same person. The
census made no allowances for unmarried couples, a member of the
opposite sex who was living with whomever was the head of household was
considered a "boarder" and was assumed to be renting a room
there. The 1900 Census states that Benjamin Cavanaugh was still working as a
moulder, and single. His brother
Joseph Cavanaugh, who was working as a
compositor, was also also boarding there.
Joseph Cavanaugh are listed in the 1906 Camden City
Directory. Things did not go well for Benjamin Cavanaugh in the 1900s.
The 1910 Census shows Benjamin Cavanaugh as an inmate at the Camden County
Almshouse in Gloucester Township.
Cavanaugh did not, however, end his days in the Almshouse. He was making
his home at 234 Clinton
Street in South Camden when he died in November of 1911 from
"paralysis", most likely a stroke. He was buried on November
7, 1911 in the Soldiers Plot at New Camden Cemetery.