RAYMOND T. AMOS was born in Frankford, Delaware on December 28, 1905 to Albert and Catherine Amos. His father was a minister. The family had moved to Camden by the summer of 1910 and taken up residence at 1004 Central Avenue.
The family had moved to 825 Walnut Street in South Camden by January of 1920. Sadly, by this time, Albert Amos had passed away. Catherine Amos worked as a domestic to support her family, which then also included daughter Mildred and a grandchild, Elva.
Raymond T. Amos was appointed to the Camden Fire Department on May 14, 1937 and reported for duty with Engine Company 1 at 409 Pine Street on May 16. On April 1, 1948 Fireman Raymond Amos was the first black member promoted to the rank of Captain, followed some years later in 1954 by Captain Jesse Jones. Both members remained officers at Engine 1. Captain Amos would later request a transfer to Engine Company 8, South Camden but his Battalion Chief would not approve the transfer because of his high regard for the Captain’s management skills and the efficient standing of the company.
Captain Amos retired on a service connected disability pension on February 1, 1961. Fireman Hadley Pike was promoted to replace him as a Captain with Engine Company 1. In a 1994 interview with Captain Raymond Amos, then at age 90 the oldest surviving black member of the Department, Captain Amos clearly recalled the early years before the advent of Civil Service when politics was the sole basis for meaningful employment and in particular the principal means for entrance into the Department.
Captain Amos vividly recalled his role as the acting Company Officer of Engine 1 responding second due to the great Hollingshead Fire. Also during the week before Christmas 1959 while Engine Company 1 was operating at a Second Alarm for row frame buildings in the 400 block of Mechanic Street South Camden, a major collapse trapped Captain Amos and Fireman George Dixon under tons of debris. The Captain’s right leg was somehow wedged against his chest in a contortionist position. The Captain and Fireman Dixon were trapped for over two hours while Amos suffered a collapsed lung and cracked vertebrae. Fireman Gus Johnson also of Engine 1 suffered severe back injuries while attempting to lift and shore debris to free his Officer and brother member. Shortly before his retirement, Captain Amos also recalled his number one position on the promotional list for Battalion Chief and the City’s failure to appoint him.
The 1947 Camden City Directory shows that Raymond T. Amos was married. he and his wife Esther were living at the 825 Walnut Street home. Raymond T. Amos was still living at 825 Walnut Street when he retired from the Fire Department in 1961. By 1970 he had moved to 109 Thompson Avenue in Chesilhurst NJ. He passed away on November 4, 1995. Captain Amos was survived by his wife Esther Q. Amos, daughters Frieda Bentley of Chesilhurst, Catherine Shepherd of Albany GA, and Nellie Davis of Williamstown; and sons Raymond S. Amos of New Haven CT, John and Charles Amos of Chesilhurst.
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