Audubon Home Page Audubon, NJ
History of Audubon, NJ

The police protection began with the hiring of a part-time officer named Charles "Zip" Zuppert- Audubon's first policeman. In 1931 the borough's first full-time uniformed police department was formed and Frank Kelly was named the town's first Police Chief.

Police History Pictures

Nestled between the Black Horse Pike and the White Horse Pike and bounded by Audubon Park, West Collingswood Heights, Mt. Ephraim, Haddon Heights, Oaklyn and Haddon Township is a small tree lined community called the Borough of Audubon. Statistically, it has an area of 1.5 square miles or about 960 acres. It is 57 degrees above sea level and boasts a population of 9200 plus. When Audubon was originally incorporated in 1905, the population was about 800. It is hard to believe that at the time the town was still over one half farmland. During World War II, a housing development was built to provide for workers and their families. In 1947, this area, which contained .2 square miles, was cut off from Audubon proper. Today, they operate independently as Audubon Park. By 1816, Gloucester County Freeholders had established Cuthbert Road between White Horse Pike and Camden-Haddonfield (Haddon Ave.) to serve Dobb's brickyard on the North side near Newton Creek and Webster's Grist Mill on the other side of the road. Camden County decided in 1857 to build Nicholson Road from White Horse Pike extending into Gloucester, which was a shipping port.

Since all of the main arteries created during the formative years ran through the area today known as "Audubon", one can see what an integral part our community plays in the overall make up of the pathways to Philadelphia, New York, points South, and on Eastward to the Atlantic Ocean coastline.
Before the turn of the century, real estate developers had started building on the land that was to be Audubon in future years. The first area was called Orston, after the town of Orston, Nottingham, England, from where the first families of the Nicholsons migrated. The second development was called Audubon. Another parcel of land, which was owned and surveyed by Ephraim T. Gill, contained about 15 acres and was known as "The Cedarcroft Tract".

In 1905, the year of our incorporation, Harry D. LeCato, who was an agent for the Audubon Land Improvement Association, purchased 160 acres from the estate of Willam Bettle and began to build. It was in 1904 at the Logan Memorial Presbyterian Church that the residents of all these separate communities voted to become one town, Audubon. Until the incorporation became official all the small communities were considered part of Haddon Township. Since Charles Schnitzler had been serving as chairman of the township committee, it seemed only fitting and proper that he be named the first Mayor of Audubon. The councilmatic form of government continued until April 26,1921 when the commission form of government was instituted. The latter has been in force to the present time.

The land, which has become our community today, is so rich in history. We date back to 1664, when Caleb Sprague and Simeon Breech bought entire parcels of land encompassing acres stretching from Haddonfield, Haddon Heights, across Kings Highway and through what is now Audubon proper. Each of these great men of the past built a home on their particular tract of land. The third son of Breech built the old "Mansion House" in approximately 1774. Most of this area was known as and surveyed as the Cedarcroft Tract. Samuel Nicholson Rhodes, who was a naturalist, purchased the acreage around the Mansion House in 1899. It is thought that his wife was the one who suggested the choice of "Audubon" as the name for the town in honor of the world renowned ornithologist , James J. Audubon.

In 1875, William Cooper Nicholson, son of Joseph, brought his bride to the house and farm located on Nicholson Road, thus the Nicholson house. Robert Marshall, who was managing the acreage, bought the property after the death of William Cooper in 1896. His daughter, Miss Mary Marshall, sold the bulk of it to the Audubon Shopping Center, Inc of Philadelphia. The 50 acres, more of less, owned by William Cooper Nicholson were passed to several other owners. In May 1911, Ernst and Anna Biederman became the new buyers reclaiming ownership that Ernst possessed in January 1903. A few acres of this land lie on the Oaklyn side of Peters Creek. Formerly they served as meadowlands for William Nicholson's farm but now are utilized by the Oaklyn Sewage disposal Plant. About 30 acres of this farm had been set aside for the use of West jersey and Seashore Railroad Company. In November 1963, the owner sold 20 acres, more or less, to Public Service Electric and Gas Company as a site for one of its five-district distribution centers. There was a plot of ground reserved around the homestead. The sale of this ground marked the end of unoccupied tracts of land in Audubon.
In 1954, Mrs. Biederman sold about 15 acres of the land along West Nicholson Road as a site for the Church of the Holy Maternity, which is a chapel of the sacred Heart Church Parish of Mount Ephraim.
Joseph Nicholson, who was born in 1818 in the Nicholson home on West Merchant Street, died in 1894. Ninety-nine (99) acres of his property were sold to Walter Ward and another parcel to George Ward. after Walter ward's death, his daughter inherited his farm. In November 1952 she sold the land to Thomas Edward, Inc. It was this company who built the development known as Audubon Manor. The original house still stands at 528 west Merchant Street.

There were names like Sutvan, Hampshire, Elias Davis, and James Glover: all of these early landowners sold, traded, willed and developed so much of our heritage. These are the names that spell our history.

William Sutvan was involved in the purchase and ownership/development of all the tracts of land surrounding Audubon High School, along with Willits, Davis and many other early families of our community.

The undeveloped ground along the boundary of Lake Drive and the lake proper became borough property during the years of 1937 to 1939. The County Park Commission, formed between 1925 and 1928, acquired land along this area at a cost of over $66,000 to the commission. The Hampshire plot at the corner of Lake Drive and Kings Highway was actually set aside or dedicated for park purposes as early as 1929. It was here that the county swimming pool was built. In 1937 and 1938 fill was put in Haddon Lake in an attempt to make a beach area. The lake was declared unclean by health authorities and the project was abandoned. Between 1950 and 1952 most of this ground reverted back to the Borough of Audubon. most of the area has been sold off to individual homeowners and four acres of the Elias Davis plot is now an athletic field adjacent to Audubon High School.
Audubon Sewage Plant was taken from a corner of Nicholson farm along the stream that feeds into Haddon Lake at the end of West Merchant Street. It was built in 1918, updated in 1929, and today is considered obsolete and has been closed. The ground has sionce become one of our many recreational fields.

We are a proud community and boast many fine volunteer organizations. We have come a long way. We take great pride in our fine police department, volunteer fire company, and ambulance corps. Our Free Public Library of Audubon offers our residents the finest in reading and public programs. We have a fine school system composed of Audubon High School, Haviland Avenue, and Mansion Avenue Elementary Schools. Our residents take an active interest in numerous community projects. When all is said and done, it makes one proud to be a resident of a town for all seasons, the Borough of Audubon.

Audubon Police Honor Roll

Back to Top of Page


Police History Pictures

Click for larger view
Click for larger view

Back to Top of Page