Title: Women’s lace & trimmings, president of Mount Moriah Cemetery
Birthdate: 1820
Death Date: March 6, 1902
Plot Location: Section 37, Lot 9

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Joel’s parents had Pennsylvania roots according to census listings, but his childhood years are a mystery. He married a New Jersey girl, Margaret Hetzel, on January 29, 1846. He was 25 and she was 20. The first of their two boys, Worthington Baldwin, was born on October 20th of that year, followed by Joel Howard on September 27, 1848. A daughter, Mary was born in 1850 but didn’t survive.

The census in both 1850 and 1860 lists his occupation as a lace manufacturer, and the family had a domestic servant, a luxury they enjoyed for the rest of their lives. City directories in the 1860s say he manufactured ruches, which can be defined as gathered ruffles or pleats of fabric used for trimming or decorating women’s garments. After the Civil War Joel operated a store at 707 Filbert Street, expanding to 709 Filbert by 1880. Throughout his career his business was variously listed as either lace merchandise, trimmings, ruches, or millinery goods. 

Both sons lived with their parents at 2042 Arch Street at the time of the 1870 census. They both got married in the early 70s, and both made the career decision to work for their father for the rest of their lives, either in bookkeeping or sales. After their weddings, Joel Howard and wife Mary lived apart from his parents but Worthington and wife Elizabeth made their home with Joel and Margaret. Living with extended family was how Worthington grew up; the previous three census listings included at least one of his father’s sisters living with them.

The family’s address changed slightly, to 2044 Arch in 1883. The following year Joel Howard died of kidney disease and was buried in his wife’s family plot at Laurel Hill. It was about this time that his father was elected president of the Mount Moriah Cemetery Association. Joel was one of the first customers to buy a lot when the cemetery opened in 1855, long before he would have a need for it. By 1874 he was on the Board of Managers. As chair of the Finance Committee he made sure the receipts and disbursements were allocated properly.

The time to use that plot came in 1895 when his beloved Margaret died of heart disease. Worthington and Elizabeth continued to live with Joel along with their baby girl, Eleanor. He  must have enjoyed having his only grandchild in his home. Worthington worked by his father’s side until Joel died from uremia (kidney failure).

The store and the home passed to Worthington, an estate valued at $69,500, or more than $2.5 million in 21st century dollars. Worthington retired while in his 50s to a comfortable life in Haddon Township, New Jersey with his wife and daughter. 

He enjoyed it for a dozen years or so, until 1917 when he was laid to rest, reunited with his parents, on the hill near St. John’s Circle. Where his wife and daughter were buried is unknown, as is who succeeded Joel as president of Mount Moriah Cemetery.

Japanese maple tree in front of a monument at Mount Moriah Cemetery

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