STEPHEN PARSONS came to Camden in 1844. He operated a hotel at Federal Street and Front Street, near the Federal Street Ferry with partner Richard Cake which was known as Woolston's Hotel. During the time the partners operated the establishment, the Camden Mutual Fire Insurance Company held its Director's meetings had been held until 1853 at Parson's Hotel; at the Federal Street Ferry. Stephen Parsons bought out Richard Cake around 1854, and the establishment came to be known as Parson's Hotel. The Camden Insurance Safe Deposit & Trust Company, which was chartered in April of 1873, opened its subscription book at Parsons Hotel on May 31, 1873.
Stephen Parsons operated successfully there until 1882, when the building was demolished. After engaging briefly in a similar venture in Atlantic City, he returned to Camden and by 1884 had leased the West Jersey Hotel, at Market and Delaware Avenues, near the Market Street Ferry.
Stephen Parsons was still operating the West Jersey Hotel when the 1890-1891 Camden City Directory was compiled. He passed away on August 29, 1890 at the age of 69, and was buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Camden. His widow, Emma Parsons passed away in May of 1899, as reported in the May 23rd edition of the Trenton Times.
Stephen Parson had been active as a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
West Jersey Hotel
In 1909 the hotel was renamed the Camden Hotel. It was later renamed the Ridgeway Hotel and after that The New Ridgeway Hotel, this building remained open as late as 1947. By 1956 it was closed and gone.
of Camden County New Jersey
George Reeser Prowell - 1886
Minor editing by Phillip Cohen, July 2004
STEPHEN PARSONS is descended from English ancestors., his grandfather, Stephen Parsons, a native of England, being the first member of the family to emigrate to America. The children of the latter are Stephen, William, Joseph, Thomas, Rebecca (Mrs. Reeves Metcalf) and Ellen (Mrs. James Anderson). Thomas, of this number, was born in 1797 in Reading PA, and spent his life principally in Cumberland, Atlantic and Burlington counties in New Jersey, where he was for many years a manufacturer of iron. In politics he was first an old-line Whig, later a Republican, and filled the office of lay judge of Atlantic County and justice of the peace. Mr. Parson married a Miss Champion of Gloucester (now Atlantic) County, whose children are Harriet (Mrs. Elmer Smith, Joseph, and one who died in infancy. All are now (1886) deceased. He married a second time, to Hannah Taylor of Burlington County, to whom were born children, Stephen, Martha (Mrs. Jeremiah Zane, Elizabeth Ann (Mrs. Richard Vannaman), Ellen (Mrs. Godfrey Hancock), Mary (Mrs. Daniel Erdman), John T. (who was lost on the steamer New Jersey plying between Philadelphia and Camden), Thomas (deceased by 1886), Rebecca (Mrs. Eli Braddock), Arabella, James A., Sarah (Mrs. Benjamin T. Bright), and Henry C. (deceased by 1886).
Stephen Parsons, the eldest of these children, was born on the 24th of June 1821, in Burlington County NJ, and removed at an early age to Cumberland County, where his early youth was spent. Later, becoming a resident of Gloucester County, he received his education at private schools, frequently being obliged to walk a long distance for that purpose. Mr. Parsons for many years assisted his father in lumbering and farming, but, desiring a wider and more independent field than was opened to him, he, in 1844, removed to Camden and embarked in hotel-keeping with Richard C. Cake. Here he remained ten years, ultimately becoming sole partner of the house known as Parson’s Hotel. This hotel was built in 1764, and was devoted to the uses of a public-house until 1882, when it was demolished. Mr. Parsons then sought another field, and became the popular landlord of the Fulton House, in Atlantic City. In 1883* he leased the West Jersey Hotel, which is at present (1886) under his successful management.
The West Jersey Hotel was built by the West Jersey Ferry Company in 1849, and was leased to Israel English until 1866. James Bodine then became the proprietor and remained as such for three years, or until 1869, and since that time it has been conducted by a Mr. Kirkbride, George Campbell, George Cake, James Titus, and Captain John Mount. In 1883* it was leased to Stephen Parsons, the present proprietor (1886). When built it was close by the bank of the Delaware River, the ferry slips being on the opposite side of Delaware Avenue. At the slips nearest Market Street the steamboats Billy Penn (as then called) and Southwark made connections with Philadelphia by way of Callowhill Street wharf, and at the adjoining slips the “Mariner” and “Merchant” steamers made regular trips, from Market Street, to Philadelphia. The main slip has been extended from the hotel into the river 500 feet, and the wharves 900 feet.
Mr. Parsons was, in 1848, married to Sarah, daughter of Nathaniel Steelman, of Atlantic County, who died in 1849. He was a second time married, October 31, 1863, to Mrs. Emma A. Rice, daughter of Sylvester Senseman, of Philadelphia. The larger part of Mr. Parsons’ life has been devoted to the duties of a landlord, though other interests have engaged his attention. A Republican in politics, he has never engaged in the strife for office, nor been the recipient of political honors. He is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and connected with the Senatus Lodge, No. 76, of that order.
* Prowell states the date of Stephen Parson's leasing of the West Jersey Hotel as 1883 and 1884 in two different paragraphs on the same page.
|Historical and Industrial Review of Camden, N.J. - 1890|
A WELL conducted hotel does much for a town's prosperity and it is pleasant to be able to bestow unstinted praise upon the leading house in this line in Camden, The West Jersey Hotel.
A large four story structure on the corner of Delaware Avenue and Market street, which has a frontage of 50 feet and a depth of 120 feet, containing 50 well kept sleeping apartments, while the cuisine is in charge of a competent chef who prepares daily the various del-icases of the table for the delectation of guests. The service and other accomodations being on a par with that of leading New York and Philadelphia houses.
Originally established by Israel English in 1850, it is one of the best known hotels in New Jersey. In 1884 the present proprietor, Mr. Stephen Parsons, succeeded to its proprietorship.
A native of New Jersey, and a hotel man for nearly half a century. Mr. Parsons was well equipped both by associations and experience to conduct this magnificent establishment and his success has been fully commensurate with his merit.
The bar is well stocked with the choicest brands of champagnes, wines, liquors, and cigars. Nearly 23 employees are required to manage this mammoth enterprise and the successful prosecution of the business reflects just credit on all concerned..
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