STEPHEN L. THOMAS was appointed to the Camden Fire Department on April 19, 1871 replace John J. Brown as an extra man with the Engine Company 1. He had previously worked as a "catcher" and as a laborer.

Stephen L. Thomas was born in New Jersey about 1842 to Jacob and Elizabeth "Eliza" Thomas. The family was living in Medford, New Jersey at the time of the 1850 Census. When the Census was again taken, in 1860, they were living in Camden's Middle Ward.

Unlike a number of his neighbors Stephen L. Thomas did not enlist in April of 1861. He did go to war the following year. Stephen L. Thomas enlisted as a Private on September 2, 1862, and was assigned to Company G, 25th Infantry Regiment New Jersey on September 26, 1862.

The Twenty-fifth Infantry was commanded by Colonel Andrew Derrom; with Lieutenant Colonel Enoch J. Ayres and Major John K. Brown as staff officers. Among the 9-months regiments sent to the field from New Jersey, few performed more signal service or made a finer record than the 25th. The
regiment, composed about equally of citizens of the northern and southern sections of the state, was fortunate in securing as its commander a man of thorough soldierly qualifications, combined with great energy and force of character, whose heart was in the work in which he was engaged, and who, enjoying the entire confidence of his command, was able to make it, in the 
highest degree, useful and efficient. Moreover, the men composing the regiment were of the best class, whether as to intelligence or personal physique, and adapted themselves readily and cheerfully to all the requirements of the service. 

The regiment left its camp at Beverly on Oct. 10, 1862, and arrived at Washington on the following day. Going into camp at Capitol hill, it was assigned to the 2nd brigade of Casey's division, consisting of the 27th N. J., 12th and 13th Vt. and 12th Mass. battery, Col. Derrom being placed in temporary command of the brigade. Acquia creek was reached on Dec. 8, the regiment crossing the Potomac in transports from Liverpool Point, and on the following day proceeding directly to Falmouth, where it was assigned to the 1st brigade, 3d division, 9th army corps. It took a conspicuous part in the battle of Fredericksburg and met with a loss in the conflict of 9 killed, 58 wounded and 18 missing. It also participated in an engagement near Suffolk in May, 1863, in which the behavior of the men was most admirable, the loss of the regiment being 2 killed and 9 wounded. That was the last fight in which the 25th was engaged. On June 4 it was ordered to proceed to Portsmouth and take transportation for New Jersey, and four days later reached Camp Cadwallader at Beverly, where on June 20 it was mustered out of the service. The total strength of the regiment was 1,019, and it lost during its term of service, by resignation 11, by discharge 92, by promotion 13, by transfer 3, by death 57, by desertion 18, by dismissal 1, not accounted for 5, mustered out, 819.

Stephen L. Thomas was among those mustered out with Company G, 25th Infantry Regiment New Jersey on June 20, 1863 at Beverly, NJ. He returned to Camden, and very probably became involved with one of the volunteer fire companies in the city. 

Stephen L. Thomas was making his home at 1110 Locust Street when he was appointed to the Fire Department. He had previously worked as a "catcher" and as a laborer. He married Martha Olive Chadwick on May 16, 1867. When the Census was taken he was living with his wife and his widowed mother. There were no children as of then. Just 5 doors away, at 1118 Locust Street, lived another Camden Fire Department member, William Deith. At 1108 Locust Street lived Stephen Thomas' in-laws, George and Martha Chadwick.

Stephen L. Thomas was removed from service with the Fire Department on May 7, 1874. He was still living at 1110 Locust Street at that time. Stephen L. Thomas is not listed in the 1878-1879 Camden City Directory, but it is more likely that was due to omission rather than he having left the city. The 1880 Census shows him at 1102 South 2nd Street with wife Martha and children Martha, George, and Mary, another son, James, had not survived. He was working as a laborer. The 1882-1883 Directory has the family at 701 Oak Street. He subsequently moved to 225 Pine Street, where he lived through 1891. By the end of 1892 he had moved to 643 Locust Street, and by the end of 1894 had again relocated, this time to 707 Berkley Street, where he stayed through 1895. The 1896 Directory shows Stephen L. and Martha Thomas at 704 Carman Street, occupation fireman, most likely not in the firefighter sense of the word, but rather that of one who worked around steam engines and boilers. 1897 has Stephen and Martha at 717 Berkley Street, with the same occupation. The 1898 Directory shows another move, to 516 Edmunds Street, and he is again working as a laborer. Stephen and Martha Thomas are at 529 Newton Avenue in 1899.

The 1900 Census shows the Thomas family at 428 South 3rd Street. There had been seven children, six of whom were still alive in 1900. Living with Stephen and Martha are son George, 27, a brass finisher; daughters Ida 16, and Florence, 11; daughter Mary, 27 and her husband Clarence Smith; a grand- daughter, Harriet Smith; and Stephen Thomas' mother-in-law, Martha Kelley Chadwick. Stephen Thomas and Clarence Smith worked as day laborers.

Stephen L. Thomas is not listed in the 1906 City Directory. Martha Olive Thomas died on May 1, 1903. The obituary published in the Philadelphia Inquirer indicates that Stephen L. Thomas was then staying at the Soldier's Home in Vineland, New Jersey. This would indicate that Stephen and Martha Thomas had left Camden prior to the compilation of the 1906 Directory.

Stephen L. Thomas is to be found in the 1910 Census. At that time he was living at 750 Cherry Street, living with his daughter Ida, 25 and her husband Howard Dewey, a shipyard worker. 

There is a Stephen L. Thomas listed in the 1910-1911 City Directory. This person was working as a fireman and living at 723 North 9th Street. As Howard and Martha Dewey were still at 750 Cherry Street, it would appear that the person living on North 9th Street is not the Stephen L. Thomas who is the subject of this sketch. 

There is no listing in the 1914 Camden City Directory for Stephen L. Thomas. He may have by this time passed away.

Philadelphia Inquirer - April 20, 1871
Click on Image for Complete Article
George B. Glover - Charles Evans
Charles Daubman - George B. Hart
Stephen L. Thomas

Philadelphia Inquirer - August 17, 1871
Howard Lee - Thomas Allibone - Charles Evans - Benjamin H. Connelly
Charles Daubman - Stephen L. Thomas

Philadelphia Inquirer - May 3, 1908
Stephen L. Thomas - South 9th Street
George J. Thomas