Title: Carpenter, home builder, pastor
Birthdate: May 17, 1860
Death Date: March 29, 1940
Plot Location: Section 42, Lot 36, southwest part

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Joseph Campbell developed condensed tomato soup when he was 78. Harland Sanders opened his first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant at age 62. Sometimes people find their greatest purpose late in life or, more accurately, they are re-purposed for something bigger than before.

That was the case with Thaddeus. Some purposes never change, like being a good sibling, husband, father, and grandfather. His occupation, on the other hand, would change over the years. He would say the best was his last, and it began at age 60.

He was the first of 11 children who were all born and raised and worked on their southern Maryland farm. Their father was also a really good carpenter, and that’s what he did for the few years before he died at age 51 of unknown causes. 

Thaddeus practiced both his agricultural and building skills until his father died in 1885. Sometime after that he left the farm to his siblings and moved to Wilmington, Delaware. He made his living as a carpenter and met his future bride, Jennie Willey. They were united in marriage in 1891. Together they had 11 children, raising eight to adulthood. 

The successful carpenter found his skill led to homebuilding jobs in Philadelphia. By 1900 they settled in the Frankford section of the city. He became a contractor in nearby Wissinoming where they moved a few years later, as the size of their family grew.

Sometime before the turn of the century his brother, Ambrose, came north, married, and joined him in the homebuilding business. By the time of the Great War in 1917, Thaddeus left his business to his brother, followed his heart, and entered full-time Christian ministry. Perhaps he took some formal training but, most likely, he just deepened his own personal study of the Bible. 

The 1920 census shows the family was still in the same home, but Thaddeus listed his job as a minister. His obituary says he was affiliated with the Christian Welfare Institute at 7th and Race Streets for a time, then moved to Stockton, New Jersey, on the Delaware River north of Washington’s Crossing. He accepted the invitation of a small congregation to be their pastor at Stockton Baptist Church. 

They couldn’t pay him very much, but Thaddeus didn’t want that much, working more for a cause than for compensation. He knew he wasn’t a seminary grad, nor was he young. Plus, he supplemented his income by working for his two sons. They were both home builders and both single, living with their parents in Stockton.

Sometime during the Depression he surrendered the pulpit to a younger man. In 1936 Jennie died of a heart blockage at age 72 and was buried at Mount Moriah. During this same decade, Thaddeus hung up his hammer for good, but kept busy by presiding over the Ministerial Association of the Church of God in Camden.

For most of 1939 he was in poor health. He died at home but was blessed to have his two sons and a daughter with him in Stockton, and four more daughters in Philly. However, none of the seven children that laid their father to rest with their mother chose to be buried at Mount Moriah.

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

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