RICHARD FETTERS SMITH was born in Camden on November 22, 1843. He was the son of Jesse Smith Jr. and Elizabeth Fetters, daughter of Richard Fetters. Jesse Smith Jr. and his maternal grandfather Richard Fetters, were prominent Camden businessmen, both active in real estate, particularly Mr. Fetters, for whom the Fettersville section of Camden in the area near South 3rd and Spruce Streets is named.

After completing his education he obtained work as a bookkeeper and cashier in a dry goods store in Philadelphia. He became interested in telegraphy, and after learning Morse code was hired by the Camden & Amboy Railroad and placed in charge of a large office at the Walnut Street Wharf. He took several more positions with various large businesses in Philadelphia, each with greater responsibilities than the last. He gained further attention when he was the only telegraph operator to save his instruments and messages when the Philadelphia Commercial Exchange went up in flames. 

In 1864 Richard F. Smith married Jennie Frazee, the daughter of Captain Andrew Blair Frazee of Camden, superintendent of the Camden & Philadelphia Ferry and a long time employee of the Camden & Amboy Railroad. Richard F. and Jennie Smith were blessed with six children, Susan, Andrew B.F., Elizabeth,  Jessie, Jennie, and Riche F. Smith. Andrew B.F. Smith was prominent in Camden business and civic affairs, and a founder of the Smith-Austermuhl Insurance Company, which served Camden and South Jersey into the 1970s.  

Richard F. Smith went into the grocery business in 1869, and enjoyed great success. He sold his firm in 1880. The following year he was elected City Treasurer of Camden, and after finishing his three-year term, was elected Sheriff of Camden County, also for a three year period. What should be of great note is that while Richard F. Smith was a Democrat, he was so well respected in his day that he won the tow elections in which he stood in the then heavily Republican Camden City and County. 

In 1889 Richard F. Smith went into the lumber business with George E. Pfeiffer Jr., establishing a lumber yard at the Cooper's Creek (Cooper River) Bridge and Federal Streets, on what today would be called the East Camden side of the Cooper. He bought Mr. Pfeiffer out in 1893, and from then on the business was known as Richard F. Smith & Son, the son being Andrew B.F. Smith. During these years the Smith family lived at 538 Penn Street, near adverting magnate F. Wayland Ayer, and across the street from coffee wholesaler and lawyer Frederick A. Rex.

By the 1890s his other business interests included sitting on the Board of Directors of the Masonic Temple Association, which erected and operated the Temple Theater at 415 Market Street, the Central Trust Company, the Camden Fire Insurance Association, and the Camden Gas Light Company. He also was on the Board of Directors of the Stockton Building & Loan Association, which played a vital role in the development of Stockton Township, which became East Camden and Cramer Hill in 1899.

Richard F. Smith was also involved with several fraternal and social organizations in Camden including the Camden Lodge No. 15 and the Siloam Lodge No. 19, A.F. & A.M., the Lulu Temple of the Shriners, the Odd Fellows, and was at one time the Grand Master Workman of the Ancient Order of United Workmen. He also sat on the Board of Governors of the Carteret Club.

Jennie Frazee Smith died November 22, 1906 at 538 Penn Street, Camden, from a cerebral embolus, according to her death certificate. Richard F. Smith died February 25, 1907 at his home on 538 Penn St., Camden. His death certificate gives his age at death as 63 years, 3 months, 3 days. His occupation was listed as "Merchant". The cause of death appears to be "asthenia". The undertaker was F.S. Simmons of Camden, and burial took place at Evergreen Cemetery.

Richard Smith died intestate. His estate was administered by Andrew B.F. Smith. There was an extensive and very valuable inventory. His personal estate (without real estate) was valued at $150,840.51.

Historical and Industrial Review of Camden, N.J. - 1890


THE lumber industry is one which is specially well represented in Camden, and among the many large firms engaged in this most essential and staple branch of trade, the house of Messrs. Smith & Pfeiffer stands in the first rank in all respects. The firm was started in January, 1889, and they are the successors to the lumber department of the old-established house of Messrs. George Pfeiffer & Son, so long and favorably known in the commercial circles of this city, which latter firm now confines their operations exclusively to the branch of coal, brick and stone. The premises of the two firms adjoin each other, occupying a large space of ground between Federal street on the southern side, the Pennsylvania Railroad and Cooper's Creek. The lumber yard of Smith & Pfeiffer is of the extent of 300 feet by 200, with ample shedding for keeping the lumber under cover, and i s at all times kept fully stocked with a supply of dressed and undressed lumber, averaging between three and four million feet. All the usual sorts of building lumber are kept on hand, such as flooring, fencing, sidings, planks, joists, wainscoting, etc., with many special kinds, and also a general stock of mill work—mouldings, doors, sash, brackets, etc.—in short, all the material of this character usually found in first-class establishments, the splendid facilities of the firm and their perfect knowledge of the trade, enabling them to offer customers lowest prices, and superior inducements They carry all classes of woods, both hard and soft, but the specialties are hemlock and white and yellow pine. The conveniences for shipment and handling goods are unsurpassed—the wharf on Cooper's Creels providing for water transportation, and the railroad side-tracks for that by rail.

The members of the firm are Mr. Richard F. Smith and Mr. George Pfeiffer, Jr., the latter being also the present proprietor of the business of George Pfeiffer & Son, the trade of which is of the same complete and extensive character in its department as that of lumber in its line. Their products are coal, hard brick, as as well as that known as "salmon'' and "stretchers,'' and foundation stone, in all of which they are the representative establishment in this city, conducting a business probably unsurpassed in this section.

Both Mr. Smith and Mr. Pfeiffer are prominent citizens of Camden, and business men of high ability and enterprise. They have also held prominent political positions—Mr. Pfeiffer now being State Senator, while Mr. Smith has held the offices of City Treasurer and Sheriff of Camden..


Philadelphia Inquirer - October 6, 1884

Elmer Barr
John W. Wescott
- Richard F. Smith - John J. Welsh

Philadelphia Inquirer - February 14, 1887

Camden Opera House Compnay -  John H. Fort - Dr. Henry F. Hunt - John Evans
Richard F. Smith - Timothy F. Middleton - Marmaduke Taylor - Alfred Hugg - Joseph F. H. Reed

Philadelphia Inquirer - January 16, 1888

W.H. Baker - Edward D. Eyre - Frank L. Vinton - Market Street - Richard F. Smith

Richard F. Smith & Son

15th & Federal Streets
Stockton Township


1906 Officers & Directors
From an 1906 City Directory Ad

A. McCRACKEN, President
C. T. SHARPLESS, Vice-President
T. S. NEKERVIS, Treasurer
C. CHESTER CRAIG, Trust Officer
WILLIAM C. JONES, Solicitor.

====== D I RECTORS ======

A. J. FULLMER     


Camden Democrat, Camden, NJ, Saturday, March 2, 1907


Grief over the death of his wife, together with an attack of the grip, resulted in the passing away of former Sheriff Richard F. Smith at his home at 538 Penn street, this city, Tuesday. He was 64 years old and is survived by six children. Mrs. Smith's death occurred last November and being a devoted couple the husband never recovered from his loss.

Mr. Smith was born in Camden, November 22, 1843, and was graduated from the New Grammar School and Crittenden's College in Philadelphia. He learned telegraphy and was employed by the old Camden & Amboy Railroad Company, and later became chief operator of the Bankers and Brokers line in Philadelphia. He left the telegraph instruments to enter into the grocery business which he successfully conducted for eleven years, when he was elected City Treasurer in 1881, serving three years, and at the close of his term he was elected Sheriff of the county. He then entered into the lumber business which he conducted up to the time of his death.

He was a past master of Camden Lodge, No. 15, F. and A.M.; a member of Siloam Chapter, No. 19, Cyrene Commandery, Knights Templar, No. 7; Lulu Temple, Senatus Lodge, No. 76, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and was a past master workman in the Ancient Order of United Workmen.

Camden Democrat, Camden, NJ
Friday, March 1, 1907


The funeral of former Sheriff and former City Treasurer Richard F. Smith, who died last Monday, took place this afternoon from his late residence, 538 Penn Street. The body looked as natural as in life, and reposed in a red cedar casket covered with black cloth. It was silk lined with ebony trimmings. The name plate bore this inscription: Richard F. Smith, born 1843; died February 25, 1907.

The services, which were held at the house, were conducted by the Rev. R. E. Brestell, rector of St. Paul's PE Church, and were largely attended by many prominent citizens from all walls of life. The floral offering were numerous and of handsome design. The pall-bearers, all intimate associates of the deceased, were Dr. H. H. Grace, J. Clarence Coxey, B. Frank Browning, Frank L. Vinton, Herbert C. Felton, Geoffrey Buckwalter, William Dressler, and Alpheus McCracken. The interment was made in Evergreen Cemetery.

Camden Daily Courier
January 21, 1909

William E. Albert - Thomas Adams - Frank Stones - William Godfreys - Richard F. Smith
Charles E. Scheffer - Frank Adams - Espin Ashton - J.M. Pennock
Frederick Spuhler - James Shaw - Jersey Devil

Thanks to Annie Kerr for all of her help in building this page. She is a 2nd cousin, twice removed of Richard F. Smith.