CHARLES ELFRETH was born in Camden in May of 1849 at 109 North 2nd Street in Camden NJ. He was the third son of Samuel D. and Martha Elfreth, coming after older brothers Jeremiah and Samuel Elfreth. His father was a prosperous blacksmith in Camden. Samuel D. Elfreth had become a volunteer with the old Perseverance Fire Company upon moving to Camden in the 1820s.

Older brother Samuel S. Elfreth joined the Camden Fire Department in 1865, when it was still an all-volunteer force, and served until the volunteers were disbanded in 1869. Before his career ended, he would served as Chief of the Camden Fire Department on three different occasions, from 1879 to 1882, from 1885 to 1888, and from 1891 until his retirement in 1912.

When the census was taken in 1870, Charles and Samuel S. Elfreth were living with their mother and father. Both sons were working as sash and blind makers. In 1871 Samuel S. Elfreth was appointed a member of the paid fire department, serving as an extra hoseman in Engine Company No. 2

Charles Elfreth married Mary A. Bruden in Camden County on March 6, 1872.

On January 17, 1872 Charles Elfreth was appointed driver of the Hook & Ladder Company, known today as Ladder Company 1. H replaced William B. Gordon Jr., who had been dismissed from that position the previous day. Charles Elfreth was discharged from his duties on May 8, 1872.

On March 26, 1877 Charles Elfreth again followed his brother into Camden's professional fire service. He did not, however, make a career of firefighting as his older brother had, and by the latter half of 1878 had returned to other pursuits. The 1878-1879 City Directory shows him working as a carpenter and living at 103 South 5th Street. He had moved to 222 Bridge Avenue by 1881, according to the City Directory for that year, and remained at that address through the beginning of 1892. 

Charles Elfreth began working for the Pennsylvania Railroad by the end of 1882. He remained a P.R.R. employee for the rest of his working days. 

Charles Elfreth had moved to Burlington County by the time the 1893-1894 City Directory was compiled. The 1900 Census shows Charles Elfreth, wife Mary and son Benjamin living on Main Street in Chester Township (present-day Maple Shade), New Jersey. The family had moved back to Camden by 1906, when they wee then living at 431 South 5th Street. The 1910 Census lists the Elfreth family at 933 Cooper Street. The family at that time consisted of Charles and Mary Elfreth, their divorced daughter Martha, son Benjamin, and his wife Anna. By 1914 they had moved to 819 Cooper Street, where Charles Elfreth would live out his days, passing away on January 23, 1922. 

Philadelphia Inquirer - July 26, 1873
John Gray Jr. - Thomas Grapewine - Henry Frost
Bernard Dennis - Elwood Cline -  William Osler  - Joseph Nece
David B. Sparks - Charles Elfreth - Isaac Randolph

Philadelphia Inquirer * March 26, 1877

Philadelphia Inquirer - May 16, 1906
Click on Image to Enlarge

Charles H. Ellis - Samuel Hufty - Levi Farnham
Charles Elfreth - J.F. Newton - Frank Heisler
William Osler - John McCabe -
William Steinmetz Harry Francis

Philadelphia Inquirer - July 31, 1909

Charles Elfreth

Philadelphia Inquirer * January 25, 1922