More or less the equivalent of the modern golf course and country club, The Stockton Rifle Range Association was organized by Samuel H. French and a group of Civil War veteran officers including General William Joyce Sewell in1866. When first established it was laid out on 43 and one half acres in the Wrightsville section of old Stockton Township, more or less in the vicinity of the present-day John F. Kennedy Towers senior citizen apartment building at South 20th Street and Watson Street in East Camden.
In 1885 George Reeder Prowell wrote in his History of Camden County, New Jersey the following:
The range proper is provided with the best improved batteries and firing grounds in the United States. as originally built, it contained ranges up to one thousand yards; but as this was seldom used, it was deemed advisable to reduce it to six hundred yards. The New Jersey and Pennsylvania Rifle Clubs and teams, the Pennsylvania National Guards, and other national military companies meet at this place, and the range is provided with magazines and closets for the exclusive use of the different State organizations.
Soon after the rifle range was started an additional forty six and one-half acres of ground was laid out in connection with the grounds of the range, as a park and pleasure resort, making the park ninety acres in extent.
The park was known as Stockton Park, and in time the entire ninety acre complex was known by that name. It fell into disuse after Stockton Township merged with the City of Camden. Old Stockton Park's last recreational use was by Camden naturalist Warren E. Buck. Raised at 1902 Stockton Park, he operated a zoo on the grounds during the late 1920s and on into the 1930s before relocating his operation to a site along Marlton Pike (State Highway 70), east of the rail line that cross that thoroughfare, in what was then Delaware Township (present day Cherry Hill) NJ. The site was also used during the depression by local gardeners to grow vegetables, and most likely also was used for that purpose during World War II.
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