If you were to visit the Village of Maple Shade in the late 1800s into the early 1900s you would meet business owners who were for the most part German immigrants. Most of these were related to the Fahr family, through Christian Frech’s wife Louisa.
How the idea about the village of Maple Shade being a “German Town” came about was because of two things- the predominately German business owners forming a business district of houses, stores and a wagon works between Maple and Spruce Avenues, and a street in town named “Germantown Avenue.”
Horace Roberts, a successful orchard grower who owned over 20 farms, was born in Fellowship and later moved to Moorestown in 1916. He got involved in real estate development with Barlow & Company building bungalows on many of the farms that he purchased in Maple Shade and Lenola.
On his subdivision plan of the Henry Van Vane farm on North Forklanding Road called “Maple Croft,” submitted to the County Clerk’s Office in 1914, he named a street “Germantown Avenue.” One can imagine his familiarity with Maple Shade over the years and the image which would be in anyone’s mind coming through here and hearing the accent among the German merchants.
The photo was taken after the "Chris Frech Builder" building was moved to Spruce Ave., and before the store addition was added to the right side of "Mennel's house."
Christian Frech's wagon shop was on Main Street. Mennel's store and post office were not there yet. The back of the Fahr's and Klinger's houses can be seen here. They had the first two stores in town. Henry Fahr had a general store and Adolf Klinger had a shoe store.
John Winter bought his land in 1867 and 1871. He was a wheelwright and perhaps a house builder. John Winter left without telling I.W. Heulings and Sons Lumber and Planing Mill at Forklanding, Cinnaminson where he was going, and he owed them money! John Winter’s land was divided up for auction sales.
Christian Frech was a blacksmith and wagon builder. Wagons called "truck shelvings" or "market wagons" were used by farmers to take their produce in baskets to market. The Frech Wagon Co. was continued by his son William and John Parker.
In 1870 Christian Freck, then of the city of Camden, bought a two story house and blacksmith shop, situated on the south side of the Moorestown and Camden Turnpike just below the toll gate near the Fellowship Turnpike and the old Benjamin J. Stiles farmhouse, and next to John Winter, a wheel wright, who had been there for several years working beside Edward Vandegrift, a blacksmith.
Christian Freck moved in with his wife Louisa and his children. He had formerly lived there at the time of the 1860 census with his first wife. From 1862 to 1870 the blacksmith shop and two-story house beside it was owned by other blacksmiths. In 1863 Christian Freck bought a blacksmith shop in Fellowship and ran it.
Fellowship was a larger village than Stiles Corners (later Maple Shade) but not in the best location. You didn’t get to Philadelphia by the Fellowship Turnpike directly but by the Moorestown and Camden Turnpike. Also at “Stiles Corners” the train was now there and the station at Forklanding Road called “Stiles Station” (Soon “Maple Shade Station”). This was an ideal spot to be and to stay!
Christian or (Chris as he was called) changed the spelling of his last name from Freck to Frech to sound more American. When John Winter’s land was divided up for auction sales, Christian Frech bought some of the land which was adjacent to his own.
Christian Freck was not living anywhere in New Jersey. Why the “Established in 1847” on Frech Wagon advertisements? Perhaps the blacksmith shop, then owned by Benjamin J. Stiles was started there in 1847 with the onset of the Turnpike. Another theory could be that Christian, a boy still, began learning the trade at this point at about 12 years old or so. Still another idea is perhaps that was the year he emigrated from Germany.
Two story house and Blacksmith Shop to let
Two story house and Blacksmith shop to let. They are situated on the South Side of the Turnpike Road between Moorestown and Camden, about 3 miles below Moorestown and 6 miles from Camden. Possession given on March 26, 1855. Benjamin Stiles.
He purchased the western side of the old John Winter land. He wasn’t of German descent. His house would later become William and Mary Myer’s home and barber shop at Main Street and Maple Avenue. (102 East Main Street)
William J. Broadwater was the railroad station agent. He was Maple Shade’s first Post Master from April 28, 1887 to December 1, 1895, the mail being delivered to the station. He lived at what is now 106 East Main Street. Saint John’s Episcopal Church began by meeting at his house.
Henry F. Fahr and his wife Caroline moved to town in 1884 and opened the first store, a general store in their home at 108 East Main Street. Henry F. Fahr was Mrs. Louisa Frech’s brother.
In 1887 Charles Shuster bought the “Benjamin J. Stiles farm” and made Maple Shade’s first subdivision. The Fahrs bought several lots across the street and built a larger home at “Main Street” and North Polar Avenue and moved there. They also sold part of this land to Caroline’s parents, the Klingers.
Their store was moved to their new home and Henry F. Fahr became Post Master from December 1, 1895 to October 31, 1904, with the Post Office being located at the Fahr’s store.
The quote below is from Arthur N. Cutler’s book draft about Maple Shade. Arthur N. Cutler married Mary L. Fahr, Henry and Caroline’s daughter.-
Naturally, there are still a few people who remember the Blizzard of 1888. It was during this blizzard that Henry Fahr, who lived at 108 East Main Street, moved to his new home and store at the northwest corner of Main Street and Poplar Avenue. The family operated the general store until 1925 when it was purchased by Leonard Greenblatt, who, after a few years, tore it down and built the present two stores and three apartments at 121 and 123 East Main Street.
The Fahr’s children were Charles A., Mary L.F. Cutler, William M, and Margaret A. It is interesting to see the Fahr children as well as Nathan Perkins’ children, etc… in some old photos of the Little Red School house, then the “Maple Shade School.”
The Benjamin J. Stiles farm passed through several owners until Hannah B. Gibson sold it to Charles F. Shuster in August of 1887.
Charles F. Shuster began the development of Maple Shade with the "Shuster Tract." It is mostly the farm land of Benjamin J. Stiles. A portion from Spruce Avenue to South Forklanding Road, excluding Christian Frech's land, was bought from Levi Lippincott.
Here is Arthur N. Cutler’s account from his book draft on Maple Shade-
Charles F. Shuster purchased most of the land running from the southerly side of the railroad to a little south of Center Avenue and from Forklanding Road to Fellowship Road. He laid it out in building lots, and erected two single houses and three double houses. The double house that was on South Poplar Avenue and single house that was at 35 North Poplar Avenue were destroyed by fire, but the rest are still standing.
|C.F. Shuster||Map 706 Filed on Sept. 13, 1887|
Advantages of living at "Maple Shade"|
Fourteen Trains each way daily.
High and Rolling Ground.
Pure water at 16 feet.
Economy in Living.
The Properties are absolutely sure of increase in value. Sold for Cash or on Installments. No rent Days. Landlords unknown.
Charles F. Shuster's 1887 "Shuster Tract" didn't have Spruce Avenue going up to Main Street.
Note that the house where a bank now is was there at this time. It was razed by the Township in the late 60s after being vacant.
Below is the revised plan submitted to the County Clerk’s Office in 1889 with Spruce going up to Main Street. Charles Shuster had to buy the land for the street from Christian Frech first.-
This is the Benjamin J. Stiles house, altered in appearance, moved to South Poplar Avenue from where OLPH Church and School are now. Also about this time Charles Shuster would have also taken the large barn to make it into the large double house that was on South Poplar. The reason the OLPH Catholic Church land is a large lot on the Shuster Tract plan was because for a few years, from 1887 to 1889 it was left as a “farm lot" containing Benjamin J. Stiles' house and large barn on it.
Before you go thinking of Charles F. Shuster as a big time suburban developer, it might have just been one of his business ventures, and you would have probably found him working for Christian Frech as a blacksmith.
Shortly after Henry and Caroline Fahr moved into their new house at Main Street and North Poplar Avenue, during the blizzard of 1888, they sold part of their land next door to Caroline’s parents, the Klingers.
Adolf Klinger was a cobbler and had a shoe store in his brick home which stood where two brick apartment buildings are now, the one being Dr. Stephen Paul’s office. In March of 1924 their land was sold to the Maple Shade National Bank under deed book 631, page 330. The two story brick house was razed but the bank was never built due to the Depression.
Charles Zane’s farm was on the northeastern corner of Main Street and North Fellowship Road. Levi French submitted a subdivision plan for this farm, maybe for Charles Zane, or perhaps because Levi French was thinking of buying the farm if the subdivision was approved. On the 1907 Camden and the Environs Atlas map it is called the “Plan of Charles E. Zane.”
A barn from the Zane farm was moved and converted into a house at what is today 22 Stiles Avenue. Saint John’s Episcopal Church was once located on the Zane property but was destroyed by a fire. Alexander Mecray then donated land for it to be built on Linwood Avenue.
Charles Zane didn’t do well in his finances and all the farm’s unsold lots were sold to Edward Shuster. Charles E. Zane and his family still lived at a house there, as can be seen on the 1910 census, etc…
|Maple Shade||Map 705 Filed on October 18, 1888|
Plan of lots at Maple Shade|
Maple Shade, 6 miles from Camden
On the line of the Camden and Burlington County Railroad, and Moorestown Turnpike.
Lots for sale.
These sites are situated on the highest ground at Maple Shade, affording the finest views of any point within 15 miles of Camden.
Fine water at 18 feet.
14 trains each way daily; also Post Office and Adams Express Office at Station.
Lots sold for cash or on installments.
(Note- Located from Fellowship to Stiles, and from the Camden Moorestown Turnpike (Main St.) to the Camden & Burlington County Rail Road. Later called the Plan of Charles E. Zane.)
William Frech was the son of Christian and Louisa Frech. William was only about 21 years old when his father Christian Frech died in June of 1897, William inherited his father’s house and business. Various properties were sold to William or others (I didn’t check them all out) by the Executive of Christian Frech’s will, his brother-in-law William Myers in 1902.
The business would then go under the name of the William Frech Wagon Company, and William moved all the wagon works to along Spruce Avenue. In 1915 he became business partners with John Parker.
William inherited the house Christian Frech had built for himself, which was vacant in 1966 and the Township of Maple Shade tore it down. Now a bank stands on the spot. This house was in the family for a while but William moved to a mansion on Mecray Lane as the Frech wagon business prospered.
William was married to Margaret (second wife) and their children were William C., Margaret, and Cornelius.
Mary Myers was the sister of Christian Frech’s wife Louisa and of Henry J. Fahr. She married William Myers. William Myers moved to town in the spring of 1900, according to Arthur N. Cutler.
William Myers out front of his Barber Shop at Main Street and South Maple Avenue
Notice the striped barber pole. This is an old photo in postcard format courtesy of Barbara Stevens.
A brick store front addition was added to the “Myer’s house” by builder Fred Fister for Amos Ferro, and was called the "Ferro Building." Over the years it housed the Burlington County Trust Company bank, the Arthur Cutler Real Estate office, Radford Jewelers, the real estate appraisal office of Harry Renwick, and currently it is used as an addition to Marista’s restaurant.
William M. Myers owned a barber shop in Maple Shade many years ago. My name is Barbara Stevens and I am his great- granddaughter. I live in Indiana. My mother was Mary Helen Myers, his granddaughter. He died before she was born and her parents died when she was very young. My mother grew up at the Masonic Home in Burlington. My mother did know her grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Fahr Myers.
My mother was 9 years old in 1930 when her grandmother, who was blind, died in a kitchen fire while trying to make dinner. As I mentioned, I have a very poor copy of a newspaper clipping regarding the death of Mary Elizabeth Fahr Myers in the fire but the date and byline are not legible and I do not know the name of the newspaper. In the article, the family name is misspelled as Meyers.
My mother's parents, William M. and Helen Myers, and her grandparents, William M. and Mary Fahr Myers, are buried in a family plot at Colestown Cemetery.
Just to help clear up some of the confusion about all the people in this family named William and Mary and Charles, my Mary Elizabeth Fahr Myers (Mrs. William M. Myers Sr.) was Henry F.'s sister. His other sister was Louise Fahr Frech (Mrs. Christian Frech). When these sisters were widowed they lived together in the Myers house until 1930 when Mary Elizabeth died in the kitchen fire.
Is there any information around town about the parents of Henry F., Mary Elizabeth and Louise? (There were also a couple of other brothers who moved to Pa.) I believe the parents were Matthew and Rose Fahr and they came from around Ulm, Germany
From The Moorestown News, March 26, 1930, page 3-
Mrs. Mary Meyers Burns to Death Preparing Lunch in Kitchen
Trapped by fire in the kitchen of her home as she prepared the noon-day meal for herself and two other aged women with whom she made her home, Mrs. Mary Meyers, 77, was burned to death at Maple Shade Wednesday of last week.
Summoned to the scene of the blaze located on the southeast corner of Maple avenue and Main street, Fire Chief William Frech found the victim was his aunt.
Just how the fire started is a mystery. It is believed Mrs. Meyers was making coffee and that her dress was ignited by the flame of the gas stove. Mrs. Meyers, it was said, was almost blind.
Two other women who lived on the premises, Mrs. Louisa Meyers, 80 a sister of the dead woman, and Mrs. Caroline Bosin narrowly escaped when hearing Mrs. Mary Meyers’ screams. They sought to extinguish her flaming dress.
Firemen extinguished the blaze in the kitchen with slight loss.
Mrs. Meyers was unconscious when carried from the house. Two doctors, who were passing, stopped their cars to see if they could be of assistance. They were Drs. Theodore Gallop and Sidney Corpening. Dr. Corpening pronounced Mrs. Meyers dead and a coroner was called.
The dead woman was the widow of William Meyers. Mrs. Louisa Meyers is the mother of Chief Frech and the widow of Herman Meyers, whom she married following the death of her first husband. William and Herman Meyers were brothers.
John and Laura Mennel-
Laura Mennel was the daughter of Christian and Louisa Frech. Below is a summary of her marriage announcement to John Mennel from the New Jersey Mirror, March 2, page 2, column 8-In Camden, March 2, 1896, by Rev. Clarence A. Adams, John Mennel, of Merchantville, and Laura Frech, of Burlington County were married.
John and Laura Mennel lived in the hamlet of Sorrel Horse, across the street from the Sorrel Horse Hotel. Sorrel Horse was located where Haddonfield Road and Route 130 meet.
John and Laura Mennel and family moved to the village of Maple Shade about 1904 and first lived in the northern half of the large double house on South Poplar Avenue. In 1905 due to her efforts and the community’s, Maple Shade again had a post office which was at the Mennel’s store.
In 1909 William Frech bought back from the Larzelere family the old (circa. 1850) blacksmith house, his father and mother once lived in, for his sister Laura Mennel. The Mennels then moved their store to there, “Mennel’s Dry Goods store and Maple Shade Post Office.” Within a few years a right side addition was put on it.
The Maple Shade Post Office would be at their store until 1926 when it was moved to 16 South Forklanding Road. John and Laura Mennel had a son Harry B. (Sr.), and a daughter Louisa. Harry later changed the store to a bar called Mennel’s Inn. Later it was bought and made the Red Carpet Lounge, and today it is a Charlie Brown’s Restaurant.
The Maple Shade Post Office-
From April 28, 1887 to December 1, 1895 William Broadwater was Post Master, (r.r. station)
From December 1, 1895 to October 31, 1904 Henry Fahr had the Post Office at his general store
From October 31, 1904 to March 17, 1905- there was No Maple Shade Post Office.
From March 17, 1905- Mrs. Laura Mennel was Post Mistress followed by her daughter Louisa.
Mennel's Dry Goods Store and Post Office-
Mennel's Dry Goods Store and P.O. was at first on South Poplar Avenue in half of the "Joseph B. Stiles double house," then it was at Main Street and Spruce Avenue.
From a 1907 Chronicle Directory-
Mennell, John, storekeeper, Poplar Ave.
Mennell, Harry, wheelwright, Poplar Ave.
Mennell, Laura, postmistress, Poplar Ave.
Mennell, Louisa, Poplar Ave.
Mennel's Chain of Title-
took title on April 20, 1909
sold by William Frech
house and land southwest of the Moorestown and Camden Turnpike and Spruce Ave. 63 feet in front of said turnpike rd, and a distance of 128 feet in depth on said Spruce Ave. for the sum of 2000 dollars.
Being a part of the same land and premises which Sarah Larzelere, Feb. 5, 1909, and intended to be recorded in the office of the Clerk in the county of Burlington..., conveyed unto the said William Frech in fee.
took title on February 5, 1909
under deed book 446 page 254
sold by Sarah Ida Larzelere
for the sum of 3000 dollars
No. 1- Beginning at a point in the middle of the Camden and Moorestown Turnpike Road on the westerly side of Spruce Avenue and running along the line of Spruce Ave. 302 84/100 feet to a point in Spruce Ave.
Bounded by the lands of William Frech, lands formerly of William J. Broadwater, Fahr's land.
(William J Broadwater bought two lots from Christian Frech and lost them later on to the sheriff selling them to the Merchantville Building and Loan. The lots are measured inward for coordinates from Maple Ave.)
took title on August 31, 1904
under deed book 387 page 495
sold by William Frech
Beginning at a point in the middle of the Camden and Moorestown Turnpike Road on the westerly side of Spruce Avenue and running along the line of Spruce Ave. 302 84/100 feet to a point in Spruce Ave.
Bounded by the lands of William Frech, and lot formerly of William J. Broadwater, to Henry Fahr's land, and the Merchantville Building and Loan.
Mennel's Dry Goods Store and Maple Shade Post Office
Today the downstairs of the house and store is a Charlie Brown's Restaurant. Photo is courtesy of the Mennel family to the Maple Shade Historical Society.
Houses on the south side of Main Street between Spruce Ave. and South Maple Ave.