740 Spruce Street

Liberty Public School
 7th Division - circa 1890
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The Liberty School was built by Newton Township at 740 Spruce Street shortly before the 1871 incorporation of Newton Township and the City of Camden. 

In March of 1871 a large part of the what was Newton Township became part of Camden. Two existing schools, the Liberty School at 8th and Spruce Street and the Centerville School came under the administration of the Camden Board of Education. 

In 1872 Professor Horatio Draper came to Camden in 1872. He served as principal at the Liberty School in the early 1870s before taking on other posts. Elected principal of all the schools in the Third District, which was made up of Camden's 5th and 6th Wards, he also continued to teach evening courses. He was placed in charge of Camden's Manual Training School, which became Camden Manual Training and High School at Haddon and Newton Avenues during the administration of Mayor Cooper B. Hatch at the turn of the century. In 1896 he was placed in charge of all of Camden's public schools, and he oversaw the construction of the new high school during the first few years of his tenure, which appears to have lasted until 1906.

George E. Fry taught at the Liberty School from 1874 through 1878, when he was named principal at the E.A. Stevens School.

Agnes Draper, the daughter of Professor Horatio Draper, after graduating from Camden High School and the Camden Normal School in 1897, began teaching second grade at the Bergen School in 1909. She was sent to the Read School in North Camden in 1922, then to Broadway Elementary School in 1923. At the time of the 1930 census, she lived at 210 East Maple Avenue in nearby Merchantville NJ. She later moved back to Camden. In 1940 Miss Draper was again transferred, this time to the Liberty School. She became an auxiliary teacher at the Cooper School, and although ill was hoping to return to the classroom for the 1950-51 school year, when she passed away on July 6, 1950.

Anna Johntra was born in Camden around 1856 to Daniel and Sarah Rogers Johntra, one of at least seven children. Daniel Johntra was moulder my trade, but had worked on the Camden police force around 1870, and later as a turnkey at the Camden County Jail. She became a teacher in 1876, when she taught at the Liberty School in Camden. She remained at the Liberty School through 1890. In 1890 she was appointed principal of the boys' department upon the opening of the newly-constructed Linden School  at 10th and Linden Street, which stood on the site of the present Powell Elementary School in North Camden. In 1905 she was named principal of the entire Linden School. She remained in that position until her retirement in 1916.

Miss Laura Taylor, whose family had moved to Camden in the 1870s, taught at the Liberty School from in the late 1880s and early 1890s before marrying Sr. Walter Lee Jones and moving to Monroe, Louisiana.

Dr. Lettie Allen Ward, prior to embarking on her medical career as one of Camden's earliest female ohysicians, taught at the Liberty School and was principal for a short time in the late 1880s before being transferred to the Jesse W. Starr School. at 821 Pine Street..

Carolina Taylor, who, after graduating from Camden Manual Training & High School in 1901, she attended the Normal School, then included in the old Camden High's course offerings, completing the course in 1902. She subsequently found work in the Camden public school system, retiring after 35 years in February of 1938. All but a few months of her employment at the Liberty School were at the Broadway Elementary School at Broadway and Clinton Street.

At the end of the 1881-1882 school year, the hours of school operation were changed to 9:00 A.M. to noon and 2:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M. Thus, a teacher's day was five hours long when much of the rest of the country was struggling to achieve an eight or ten hour day. In June 1882, the board approved new salaries for its male principals. The raise generally increased their salaries to where they were before the board's enactment of its salary reduction plan, which occurred during the 1870s. The salaries of the male principals at Cooper, Stevens, Mount Vernon Street, and Fetters Schools became $1,000. The Liberty School principal received $1,500, the Mickle School's principal received $1,400, and $900 for Ferry Road School's principal. In October 1883, several female teachers presented the board with a petition relating to an increase in salary, but they summarily referred their petition to the committee on teachers; taking no action for three years.

During World War I, Liberty School led the city with Sales of War Bonds totalling $25,500,

Between 1920 and 1933 space within the Mount Vernon School was allocated to the Continuation School. In January of that year, Superintendent of Schools Dr. James E. Bryan went to Boston to visit Continuation Schools because they were operating there, in old factories, with separate boys' and girls' classes, for about the last four to five years. In Massachusetts, students who worked were required to attend school at least four hours per week. In New Jersey, the Legislature enacted a law requiring at least six hours per week, and whenever a student was unemployed, the state expected the student to attend school every day. This special school, called a Continuation School, had to open by September 1, 1920. According to the New Jersey law, the child attended school in the city in which he worked, and not where he lived, unless the two happen to be the same. (In essence, the state took the financial burden of continuation schools out of the suburbs, and into the cities where the jobs were located.)

Bryan reasoned that the district needed to provide instruction for a maximum of 600 students, and believed that in this type of school, efficiency required 15 pupils per class, covering the sixth through tenth grades. Bryan also recognized that these classes would be in a constant state of flux, and he would have to arrange the classes by ability and personal advancement. The teacher's problem was one of individualized instruction. Bryan assigned four male and four female teachers to shops and domestic-science rooms, with academic classrooms, a principal and an office assistant, and attendance clerk. The Mount Vernon School building and the old church (Wynn Memorial Chapel) next to the Liberty School, became the sites for the district's Continuation School. Bryan also wanted a print shop established in the school, when funds were available, as this was one of the developments of modern industrial education not represented in the curriculum at the time.

The Continuation School salary schedule was the same as the junior high school schedule, and Mr. Ralph H. Parker, Principal of Sewell School, became the Supervisor of the Attendance Department and Principal of the Continuation School, with an 11-month contract during the 1920-21 school year. Parker resigned about eight years later, and the board appointed Mr. C. Paul Ney as Principal of the Continuation School, Supervisor of Exemption Certificates, and Chief Attendance Officer starting July 1929. This was still an 11-month position that paid $3,200. At the same time, they promoted Harold C. Many to the newly created position of Vice-Principal of the Continuation School, with a salary of $3,000.

The Continuation School in its entirety in February of 1933 due to the financial crisis brought on by the Depression. 

Notable individuals who attended the Liberty School included Camden attorney Mair Auerbach.

C. Arthur Dennis was principal at the Liberty School through 1928, when he was transferred to the post of principal at Junior High School No. 1, at Haddon and Newton Avenues.

On 1948 J. Carroll Rooks, who had been principal of the Bergen School, was named principal at the Liberty School.

On October 9, 1973 the Liberty School was destroyed by fire. 

Teacher Assignments & Transfers - June 22, 1933

Philadelphia Inquirer - March 17, 1918

Dr. Daniel Strock - Dr. James Bryan - Mrs. Margaret Thompson - Dorothy Morris - Ralph Parker
Mary Brown - George B. Pine - Emma Summerill - John Koerner - Helen Amelson

Northeast School - Dudley School - Liberty School - Camden Manual Training & High School

Camden Courier-Post - February 1, 1938

Appoints 2 Instructors and Pensions 2 Others; Wilson Enrollment High

The Camden Board Education last night approved transfers of 14 teachers, the appointment of two new instructors and the retirement on pension of two others.

The board then adjourned until 11.45 a. m. today and it was announced the 1938-39 board will be organized at noon when Commissioner Mary W. Kobus is expected to be re-elected president.

When the report of the teachers committee making recommendations for appointments, transfers and retirements was read it was approved by unanimous vote and without comment.

Following the meeting Carlton W. Rowand explained that most of the transfers were made to meet emergencies in teaching classes at Woodrow Wilson High School, where more than 1500 students will be enrolled for the second semester, be ginning today.

Rowand explained that enrollment at the Wilson school is the highest in its history, due to many students taking up English and commercial courses instead of entering Camden senior high school, which will have an enrollment of approximately 1540 students, the smallest in several years.

List of Transfers

Transfers affecting teachers in junior high schools are: Louis E. Feinstein from Hatch Junior High School to commercial business organization, Wilson High School; Frank E. Sias, from Cramer Junior High to physical education, Wilson High; Jessie W. McMurtrie from Cramer Junior High School, to physical education, Wilson High; Wilton D. Greenway, from Cramer Junior High School to mathematics, Camden High; Elizabeth Dickinson, from Bonsall; to English, Cramer Junior High; Mrs. Mildred C. Simmons, from English to mathematics, Cramer Junior High; Miss Celia Boudov, from Hatch Junior High to departmental geography, science, and penmanship, Liberty School; Mrs. Elizabeth R. Myers assigned to English, Hatch Junior High;

Thelma L. Little transferred from, Grade 5 to Cooperative Departmental; Dudley school.

The following elementary school transfers, also effective today, are:

Beatrice W. Beideman from Starr to Sharp school; Mrs. Esther S. Finberg from Cramer to Broadway school; Dorothy M. Lippincott from Parkside to Dudley school; Mrs. Alva T. Corson from Washington to Broadway school, and Mary G. Cathell from Washington to Dudley school.

Teachers whose retirement was approved are Carolina W. Taylor, Grade 2, Broadway school, and William M. Thayer, mathematics [Camden] senior high school. Both teachers had resigned and applied for their pensions, the report read.

Appointments Made

Nathan Enten was appointed as physical education teacher in the Cramer school and Harry S. Manashil was appointed commercial teacher in Hatch school. Each will receive $1400, annually. The board also approved the appointment of Florence M. Dickinson as principal of Lincoln school at a salary of $2200 annually.

The assignment of Miss Grace Hankins as principal of Parkside school to succeed Miss Dickinson also was approved. Ethel Thegen was approved for appointment as assistant librarian at the Camden senior high school at a salary of $5.50 a day. All appointments are effective today.

To relieve overcrowded conditions among pupils the board approved the transfer of 7A and 7B classes from the Washington to the Cramer school.

The board vote to open a library in the Cramer school and Raymond G. Price, supervisor of building was instructed to provide, the necessary equipment.

A resolution of condolence upon the death of Ethel C. Wenderoth, for 19 years a teacher in the Broadway School was passed and secretary Albert Austermuhl was instructed to send a copy to members of the deceased teacher's family.

2 New Faces on Board

The board received and filed a letter from Mayor George E. Brunner in which he stated he had appointed Mrs. George W. Tash, Samuel T. French Jr. as new members and had re-appointed Robert Burk Johnson as a board member.

William B. Sullender, of the Tenth Ward, who was not re-appointed, was commended by the members for his services. E. George Aaron said he regretted the fact that Sullender was leaving as a member and wished him success. Others joined in this tribute.

Sullender in reply thanked the members for their co-operation during his term of office.

Camden Courier-Post - February 11, 1938

41st Anniversary Will Be Observed by Broadcast in Afternoon
4th Annual Child Welfare Institute Being Planned for April

The desire to carry on toward the goal envisioned by founders of the Parent-Teacher Association will be emphasized throughout the country in honor of the 41st anniversary of the National Congress of Parents and Teachers.

A Founders Day broadcast will be heard on the Parent-Teacher Radio Forum next Wednesday from 4.30-5 p. m. over the NBC blue network. 

Mrs. Percy Powell, Mrs. Fred M. Raymond and Miss Mary England are in charge of the program.

One of the vital topics to be considered that day is "What needs to be 
done for children today?"

The celebration of Founders Day started by Mrs. David O. Mears in 1910, thirteen years after the organization of the National Congress of Mothers, and the "birthday gifts" from local units are used for the extension of this service to childhood so that it may be carried to every girl and every boy in the country. 


Mrs. Herbert Schoellkopf, county Americanization chairman, urges every parent-teacher member to display the American flag on three important birthdays being celebrated this month, namely: Lincoln's  Birthday, February 12; Founder's Day, February 17, and Washington's Birthday, February 22.

Word has been received of the cancellation of the "Homemakers Forum" on station WOR. The series of talks on the adolescent which were to have been given on this program, are available in mimeographed form from the office of the home demonstration agent, Miss Mary M. Leaming, room 208, courthouse, Camden. In requesting this information, the name of the particular talk desired and the definite number of copies needed should be specked.

Parent-Teacher members are looking forward to the fourth annual Child Welfare Institute to be held in April. Plans for this institute are being formulated by Albert M. Bean, superintendent of Camden county schools, who is general chairman. The theme this year will be "Guidance" being divided in four classes pertaining to career, character, community and health.

Guest Speaker

MRS. MORRIS FOULK Director of the southern P. T. A. district and second
vice president of the New Jersey Parents and Teachers Congress, who was guest
speaker at the Garfield School, Camden, P. T. A. meeting: last night.


Broadway — Mrs. Ralph Jones, county magazine chairman, was the guest speaker at the meeting Tuesday night. A playlet in commemoration of Founder's Day was presented by a group from the Northeast-Sewell association. Mrs. Thomas Melchore presided. Mrs. George Lee, welfare chairman, has made arrangements for an industrial tour on February 21. Mrs. Walter Gross attended the meeting of the Home Demonstration Extension on Monday. Mrs. C. Fred Becker, parent discussion group  leader, is holding a meeting in the school on Tuesday at 1.30 p. m. A donation of $1.25 was approved to be given the recreation committee toward the New York trip of the winners in the sewing contest held recently.

CassadyMrs. M. Moullette, Summer round up chairman, has appointed a committee to assist her in her work. They are Mrs. E. Hudson, president; Mrs. R. Bowen, vice president; Mrs. H. Mount,  secretary; Mrs. A. Reinhold and G. McGrath Kershaw. The executive committee will hold a meeting next Wednesday at the home of Mrs. K. Hudson at 8 o'clock.

Cooper—Health night was held at the regular meeting Monday. Mrs. G. Kramer, county health chairman, spoke on the importance of correct food for children. A play was presented by the Seventh grade English class, under the direction of Miss E. Hanna. A violin solo was rendered by Miss A. Claypool, accompanied at the piano by Miss V. Merwall. An educational trip has been planned for this afternoon at 1.30.

Cramer — The county president's message echoes from the release were read by Mrs. William Rown-tree, president, at the meeting last week. A gift of $1.25 was sent to the committee on the Doll Dressing Contest. Mrs. Arthur Fichter, membership chairman; Mrs. Fred Creag-er, welfare  chairman, and Mrs. William Rowntree, president, attended the city group meeting last week. The executive committee will meet at the home of Barney Brown, vice president, 2566 Baird boulevard, on Tuesday night at 8 o'clock. The association is sponsoring a three-act comedy, "Here Comes Charlie," to be given by the Queen Esther Society of Asbury M. E. church, on Thursday night, February 17, at 8 o'clock in the school auditorium.

H. H. Davis—Members of the discussion group met in the school yesterday under the leadership of Mrs. William Allen, discussion group chairman, followed by rehearsal for the Founder's Day play arranged by Miss Kathleen Willetts, Founder's Day chairman. A candle lighting ceremony will also be given in observance of Founder's Day, at the meeting Thursday. Calvin Chambers will compile the publicity record book to be displayed at the annual luncheon. A trip to an industrial plant is planned for next Wednesday afternoon. A bus will leave the school at 1 p. m.

Dudley—Mrs. Elizabeth James and Mrs. Sarah Miller who were in charge of purchasing of basketball suits for the school team, reported that donations of $10.65 have been received from business people and friends. The executive committee has approved sending $1.25 to the Recreation Commission toward the New York trip for winners of the Doll Dressing Contest. Mrs. Clara Batten, chairman of the committee in charge of purchasing a new banner, has been authorized to purchase  same as soon as possible. Mrs. Florence Fiedler, newly appointed summer round-up chairman, is making plans for a thorough survey of the school neighborhood in order to enlist the aid of the parents of preschool children. Founders' Day exercises will be held tonight at the meeting.

McKinley—Harry Roye will speak at the meeting next Tuesday night. There will also be a Founders' Day ceremony. Those taking part will rehearse Friday at 3.30 a. m. at the school. Mrs. Rudolph Koerner will hold a study group meeting at her home next Wednesday at 2.00 p. m. Next Thursday a covered dish luncheon will be held by Mrs. R. Koerner and Mrs. Morris Sellers at the home of Mrs. R. Koerner, Fremont and Thirty-fifth street. On Thursday a meeting on character education will be  held at the school at 3.30 p. m. Miss Alice Butler, general secretary of the Y. W. C. A., fill speak.

Liberty & Starr—The meeting of the executive committee will be held ext Thursday night at the home of Mrs. Charles Baden, 954 Pine street. Mrs. Emily S. Hurd, publicity chairman, who served as chairman of the judging committee of the sewing contest sponsored by the Recreation commission, recently acted as judge o f the sewing contest held by the T A. at SS. Peter and Paul school on Tuesday  night.

Parkside—Mrs. Robert Simmington, council chairman, and Mrs. Rocco Palese, city chairman, gave brief talks at the meeting last Thursday night. Corsages were presented to them by Mrs. Sinclair Sondie, program chairman. Proceeds from the sale of a cake will be sent as a Founders' Day gift to he National Congress to be used or extension work.

North-East & Sewell — Mrs. Grace Dill, discussion group leader, attended the meeting in City Hall Monday under the direction of Miss Mary Leaming, home demonstration agent. A meeting of the discussion group was held in the Sewell school on Tuesday afternoon.

Sumner—The ways and means committee met at the home of Mrs. Grace Thomas, president, on Monday. Plans for various entertainments for the months of February, March and April were made. A membership campaign was launched. The topic of discussion at the meeting on Wednesday was "How the School Prepares for Home and Family Life."

H. C. Sharp—The regular meeting was held Friday. Gordon Carrigan presided. The Rev. Eric A. Osterle of Collingswood. discussed "Youth Problems." "Founders' Day" was observed, also the ninth birthday of this unit. A large birthday cake was lighted by the past presidents, and a large candle lighted by Miss Ethel Lee for Founders Day. Miss Lee was congratulated for her wonderful co-operation with all presidents and P.T.A. work; and was presented with a corsage of red roses. Each president in turn was presented with a red rose bud boutonniere by Miss Esther Bauer, who had charge of the program, assisted by Miss Maier and Mrs. Barton. Each president gave a "Reminiscent" of his service. They were as follows: Chester Knaub, Harry Krattenmaker, Herman Neissner, Gordon Carriean, Howard Stewart, Raymond Price.

Washington — Rev. E1wood A. Harrar spoke Tuesday at the Founders Day meeting Tuesday. Mrs. Howard Weeden, city juvenile probation chairman, was guest speaker. Miss Charlotte V. Dover, former principal of the school, was also a guest. A brief history of the association were called upon to speak. John White was the first president. He was followed by Jacob Grosmick, Mrs. Wilbur Cassedy, and the present president, Mrs. Richard Baker. Mrs. F. Kau ff man reports the cake sale a success. Mrs. William Mitchell reported plans to form a First Aid class that will be given a course by the Red Cross.

H. B. Wilson—Plans were made for the Founders Day program at the executive committee meeting Thursday afternoon in the school. Mrs. Lawrence Miller was named chairman. Miss Harriet Reiners will speak on character education at the next meeting. The basketball team was furnished with suits by the unit.

Yorkship—After a short business session with Mrs. James L. Ferris presiding, the monthly meeting was turned over to Mrs. J. P. McMillion, county chairman of alcohol and narcotics. Rev. H. S. Lepperd, of Fairview M. E. Church, spoke. Mrs David Pyper, chairman of ways and means, announced plans for a care party to be held on February 18. Proceeds will be used for expenses to carry on the monthly dances and Annual Field Day. The discussion group met today in teachers lunch  room. Mrs. Malcolm Steck, leader, will use as a topic "What Interests Adolescence." As a special feature for the monthly dances the organization has arranged to have a half hour of dancing instructions before the regular dancing begins. Attending the city group meeting at City Hall were Mrs. James L. Ferris, president; Mrs David Pyper, Mrs. M. Johnson, Mrs. Eleanor Wynn, Mrs. W. Clemmens Mrs. George Mehaffey and Mrs. Harold Turner attended.

Lincoln—Dr. Helen Schrak gave a talk on health and a report on health conditions of the children of this school at the last meeting. A Founders Day sketch was presented by Mrs. M. Beaumont, Mrs. G. Welmrich, Mrs. E. Schelpat and Mrs. K Conlin.

740 Spruce Street

Liberty Public School

October 9, 1973

Click on Image to Enlarge

740 Spruce Street

Liberty Public School

October 9, 1973

Click on Image to Enlarge

Engine Company 8
Ladder Company 2
on scene in front of school

Fire Fighter William Hopkins
at the Tiller
Ladder Company 1

740 Spruce Street

Liberty Public School

October 9, 1973

Click on Image to Enlarge

Engine Company 8
Ladder Company 2
on scene in front of school

Fire Fighter William Hopkins
at the Tiller
Ladder Company 1

Liberty Public School

Liberty School Memories

I also have a memory of an interesting street (Bella Place). It was only a half block long when I went to Liberty School........ It was like walking through an alley from Division to Spruce, can't remember how many houses were on it.

Jim Bessing
May 2004

For most of the kids attending Liberty School the highlight of the day was a stop at Troutman's store, at Spruce and Bella Place. A magical place to us with many scrumptious penny candies (or four for a penny), strips of long red liquorices, long strips of candy dots on white paper backing, 'Soft Pretzels' a treat that many of us had never saw before. Bottles of cold soda on ICE or  should say in ice water, so cold it could give you a splitting headache. The memory of that soda stayed with me for thirty years or so. So strongly that I setup coolers at my gas stations and sold Ice Colds to my gas customers, they were quite a hit, I had seen Ice coolers many other times but the Troutman store was the best memory. Many kids stopped in before and after school in addition to lunch time as all students went home for lunch.

 Liberty School was a really neat place , all entrances lead to hard wood floors that went through out the school, two main entrances led to wide hard wood steps to an intermediate level were we hung our coats  then another wide stair way to the second floor and the class rooms located on either side of the stairway landing, massive hand rails curved around to follow the stairs. Secondary entrances were similar but a smaller scale.  I remember being sent on errands to the basement or to fetch the custodian, it was quite scary going down there. Dimly lit creaky stairs, hot and smelly from the furnaces you could see the orange flames thru the vents in the cast iron doors. Had to yell loud for the custodian, some times you would find him napping with a bottle of hooch sitting near by. I would give him the message and high tail up the steps fast as my legs would go.

We spent many great days in the asphalt yard playing softball or a made up version of kickball baseball, girls would be playing hopscotch or jumping rope or other kids games, mostly made up to fit the confines of space available in yard. This was the time of air raid drills, the height of the cold war, penny candy, Vet Stadium being built, it's odd to look back now but during 1956-57 I recall sitting at my desk just wondering if I would see the new Century and how slowly many years would pass until it came. Now  it seems like I blinked my eyes and it was here. Year 2000. Seemed such an impossible time for a young kid to ponder. To the students of Liberty School nothing much mattered except the little candy store. Let's see? Ponder year 2000, Heck no.  I have a dime for the little store after school.

Facts are to the best of my recall, hope all are correct.

Eli E. Conaghy
September 15, 2010

Thanks to Fred Reiss, Ed.D. , for writing the defining book on public education in Camden prior to 1948, PUBLIC EDUCATION IN CAMDEN, N.J.- From Inception to Integration, from which much of the above history of the Kaighn School is derived.