Clarence
Bunker


 

CLARENCE BUNKER was born in Pennsylvania on November 22, 1892 to Josephine and  Lawrence Bunkowski. His given name was Julian Clement Bunkowski. In time he Americanized his name to Clarence Bunker, however, over the ears both names turn up in government documents. Lawrence Bunkowski brought his family moved to Camden a few years later.

In 1914 a son, Lawrence Bunkowski, was born to "Clarence" Bunkowski and his wife Bella, and was named after his paternal grandfather. When his Clarence Bunkowski registered for the draft in June of 1917, the family lived at 1264 Everett Street, and he does not appear to have been using the Bunker surname. A daughter, Henrietta, had been born not long after the arrival of the first child. 

When the Census was taken in 1920 Clarence Bunkowski was working as a caulker at one of Camden's shipyards. 

By 1924 Clarence Bunkowski had adopted the name of Clarence Bunker and was working as a Camden police officer. By January of 1928 he had been promoted to detective. Clarence Bunker's brother Joseph J. Bunkowski lived at 1268 Everett and also served with the Camden Police Department. Clarence Bunker and family were still at the Everett Street address in April of 1930; they maintained a presence at that address as late as the fall of 1969.

Clarence Bunker was still working for the Camden Police Department in the spring of 1942. His son, Lawrence Bunkowski, was appointed to the Camden Fire Department on April 12, 1942 and reported for duty four days later. Lawrence Bunkowski and his wife Tillie then lived at 1107 Kaighn Avenue, a few doors away from Engine Company 7. They later moved to 1402 Park Boulevard in Parkside. 

By 1949 Clarence Bunker had left the Camden Police Department. He died in January of 1967. Clarence Bunker was survived by his wife Bella, who died in 1975, and his son Lawrence.

Lawrence Bunkowski had served the City of Camden for over 24 years when he retired from the Fire Department on October 4, 1968. He passed away in November of 1974. His wife later lived in Woodbury, New Jersey. She joined her husband on June 25, 1988.


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Camden Courier-Post * January 14, 1928

GANGSTER SHOT
DURING MELEE
IN SIXTH WARD

Joseph Deven Held On Murder Charge After Death
Boxer’s Brother; ‘Mose’ Flannery
and 4 Others Held as Witnesses;
Was Craps Game Says County Police
HOLDUP ATTEMPTED CITY COPS DECLARE

Victim of a shot fired in a melee, the exact cause of which remain undetermined, Joseph Cimini, 31 years old, was killed in the Sixth Ward Republican Club, 908 Broadway.

Cimini, declared by police to be a Philadelphia
gangster, was killed before the eyes of two district

 detectives, Clarence Arthur and Clarence Bunker, who had been summoned to the club by warning that a fight was in progress.

Joseph Deven, 28 years old, known to his associates as “Polack Joe’” and a colorful figure in 

Third Ward politics, fired the shot that killed Cimini.

Declaring that he had fired in self-defense, after Cimini struck him with the butt of a revolver, Deven was locked up without bail on a charge of murder.

Joseph 'Mose’ Flannery, 26 years old, picturesque Eighth ward political worker, was held as a material witness. Detectives had seized Flannery who was to have precipitated the battle by brandishing a revolver just before Cimini was shot. The officers say that Flannery fled –after the shooting and was captured afterward at Broadway and Federal Street.

The name of the dead man was given as Joseph Gannon, but shortly before one o’clock this afternoon, he was identified as Joseph Cimini, 1301 Ellsworth Street, Philadelphia. The identification was made by a brother, William Cimini, a pugilist who has boxed in this city several times under the name of “Billy” Gannon.

Six Others Quizzed

Six other men who were present at the time of the shooting, or when the argument began, were questioned by city and county detectives.

They are Newton Blanchard, 30, 923 St. John Street, former Camden boxing referee and declared by some of the witnesses as the man who conducted the crap game at the club; Michael Dandrea, 26, 1067 Norris Street; Russell Sage, 26 years old, of 1102 Marion Street a taxicab driver who is said to have driven Gannon and Flannery to the club in his car; Maurice O’Brien, 27 years old, of 1429 Bradley Avenue, a former New Jersey State Trooper, Harry 

Headquarters of the Sixth Ward Republican Club on Broadway below Spruce Street is shown in the picture. The entrance is to the left, the first floor front being occupied by a barber shop. The arrow indicates the room where the shooting occurred

Slayer and Slain

Top: Joseph Deven - Bottom: Joseph Cimini

Harry Waterhouse, 28 years old, whose address was given as the same as Sage’s; and Charles “Chick” Hunt, 27 years old, of 1218 Broadway, a former Camden boxer.

Blanchard and Dandrea were released after questioning and after each had made a statement to Chief of County Detective Lawrence T. Doran. The others were held with Flannery as material witness.

Differences of opinion between county and city detectives investigating the shooting were heightened during the afternoon.  The county sleuths insisted upon the theory that the shooting had resulted from a feud between Flannery and Hunt, with Cimini taking the former's side and Deven the latter and said that the heat of the argument had possibly been heightened by disagreement over a crap came.

The city police, on the other hand, declared that the entire affair was the result of an attempt by Flannery to hold up the other men. Deven’s statement to Chief Doran made no mention of a hold-up.

Building up a case against Flannery, the officers this afternoon lodged charges of attempted hold-up, carrying concealed deadly weapons, atrocious assault and battery and assault to kill against him. The two latter charges were made as the result of identification of Flannery as a participant in two recent robbery attempts. J.E. Feinstein, café proprietor of 508 Kaighn Avenue, declared that Flannery, Cimini, and Sage were thereof four men who held him up on New Year’s Day. He defied them and they left when he said, “Go ahead and shoot,” he asserted. Flannery was also identified, according to police, as the man who had beaten and attempted to rob Henry Mehrer, an Audubon policeman, and his two companions outside the Ringside Inn, on the Black Horse Pike, a fortnight ago. Mehrer and Feinstein were taken to police headquarters by County Detective Howard Smith, who is authority for the statement that they identified Flannery.

Cimini was shot shortly after 3:00 this morning and died almost instantly. Doctors at Cooper Hospital pronounced him dead on arrival. He had been shot just above the heart by a bullet from Deven’s gun.

Events preceding the shooting remain, to some extent clouded today. Chief Doran said he learned of an enmity existing between Flannery and Hunt. Deven appeared to have attempted to quiet “Mose”, the county detectives said. Cimini struck Deven and Deven fired.

Chief John Golden of the Camden city detective bureau stated, on the other hand, that the shooting had apparently followed an attempt to hold up the other men in the room. Golden based his view on the statements of Clarence Arthur, a city sleuth. According to Arthur, when he and Bunker appeared at the door of the room, Flannery and Cimini held revolvers and the other men in the room were standing with their hands upraised.

According to the story pieced together by county detectives from the statements of witnesses, a group of men had apparently gathered at the club for a crap game. Blanchard, it was stated, acts as the “stick man,” the term used in gambling parlance to designate the man who conducts a crap game.

City and County agree that Flannery and Cimini arrived together in Sage’s taxicab. Whether there was an argument, the result of an enmity between Flannery and Hunt, or whether the attempted hold-up theory is correct, remains to be learned by additional official investigation.

Chief Doran stated the witnesses had told him that words passed between Flannery and Hunt and that the former had gone downstairs. Returning he brandished a revolver.

Two Flee Place

It was at this point that Blanchard and Dandrea left the room and fled down the stairs. On the street, they encountered Detectives Arthur and Bunker, who were patrolling Broadway in a police automobile.

In describing the subsequent events today, Arthur declared that Blanchard had informed him that “two Philadelphia gunmen are up in the Sixth Ward Club holding up a bunch of fellows”.

The detectives did not immediately go to the club, but found Patrolman Frank Del Rossi and followed him up the stairs of the building.

“There were about fifteen men in the room,” Arthur asserted. “When we got to the door Flannery and Cimini had their guns out and apparently were about to search the others. The other men had their hands in the air.

“When they saw us Flannery and Cimini threw their guns down and the others lowered their hands. I went up to Flannery and started to frisk him. Bunker went to another man, whom I don’t know, and started to frisk him”.

It was then he said that he heard the shot. Believing that it was Bunker who was shot, he released his hold on Flannery and swung around. As he did Flannery turned and fled downstairs, Arthur declared.

Bunker said he believed that it was Arthur who had been shot and he too released his grasp on the man he had been searching. The detectives turned in time to see Cimini fall.

“I did it! I shot him!” Deven is declared to have shouted, throwing his revolver on the table.

According to the story told by witnesses to the county detectives, however, Deven had stepped up to Flannery just before the shot was fired and had said” “Mose, you can’t get away with this here.”

Flannery is said to have had a gun in his hand at the time.

As Deven spoke, the witnesses say, Cimini stepped behind him and struck him with the butt of a revolver. Just then detectives entered. Devin whirled and, drawing his gun, fired.

Cimini was placed in a police ambulance and taken to the hospital. After he had been pronounced dead his body was taken to the morgue, where it was awaiting identification today. Neatly dressed, Cimini is of Italian extraction. He has coal-black hair, brown eyes and a dark complexion. Coroner Charles T. Murray will perform a post-mortem examination, he said.

Flannery Captured

When he fled from the club, according to Arthur, Flannery jumped on a Public Service bus driven by David Smith, of 423 Haddon Avenue, which was passing at the time.

“Faster! Faster” he is declared to have urged Smith as the latter drove along Broadway in the direction of Federal Street.

At Federal Street and Broadway, Arthur and Bunker caught up to the bus and arrested Flannery as he descended from the vehicle.

“Why don’t you give me a chance to get to Philadelphia?” Arthur declares Flannery asked him. “I can get bail over there.”

Seek Written Statement

Chief Doran stated this afternoon that he was attempting to obtain a written statement from Flannery and would also seek to have Deven sign a statement regarding the shooting. During the morning, Flannery refused to talk while Devin, although admitting that he fired the shot, declared that he shot in self-defense. He made no reference to the hold-up attempt, according to the county detectives.

Cimini has a Philadelphia police record but, according to his pugilist brother, “was not bad but just wild.” He was recently arrested in Philadelphia after a fight with policemen.

“But he never held up or robbed anybody,” his brother declared this afternoon after identifying the body. “He got into a jam now and then. Yes, I know that he knew 'Mose' Flannery, but I never mixed with that crowd.”

It was reported at City Hall this afternoon that Samuel Orlando had been retained as attorney for Flannery and that Walter Keown, Camden county solicitor, would represent all the other men. The presence of Keown at detective headquarters, during which he had a conference with Captain Golden, seemed to lend credence to the latter report but neither rumor could be confirmed.

Flannery for years has figured in police cases and in political warfare in the Eighth Ward, where he was sometimes a lieutenant and sometimes an opponent of “Mikey” Brown, the Republican leader of the ward. Last March he was arrested and indicted on charges of atrocious assault and battery on is wife and her mother. At one time he was held as a suspect is a Philadelphia shooting but later was released.

The accused man, Deven, is a short, slim little man with an air of meek complaisance. He has been a taxicab driver and was last arrested on a charge of drunken driving. In May of 1926 he attempted suicide by shooting himself after he had failed to effect a reconciliation with his estranged wife. At that time, he shot himself but the bullet only grazed his chest.

Joe Deven, long a political power in the Third Ward, first flashed into citywide prominence in 1925, when he was employed by federal authorities as a deputy U.S. Marshal to guard the padlocked Poth brewery at Bulson Street, just off Broadway. At the time Deven was thus maintaining the sanctity of the Eighteenth Amendment, he was also operating a bootlegging establishment downtown and had been arrested once or twice for violating the Volstead Act.

The Courtier at that time exposed this paradoxical situation, with the result that the U.S. Marshal summarily dismissed Deven. He keenly resented the political chicanery that had been used to put Deven in office. In explaining how Deven was appointed, the Marshal said that he had been recommended by “prominent Republican leaders” in Camden, chief among whom was William D. Sayrs, no a city commissioner but then a field agent in the office of the Internal Revenue Department.

Sought City Job

Not long after Deven’s dismissal as brewery guard, Sayrs and other Republican leaders made strenuous efforts to secure a city job for him under the Non-Partisan administration. They sought to exact a promise from The Courier that this newspaper would remain silent in the event Deven was appointed to a city position. No such promise was made and Deven remained jobless, politically at least.

Then came a humorous twist to the situation. Sayrs disagreed with some of the Organization leaders and, for a time, walked his own political footpath. Some of the leaders, fearful of what Sayrs might attempt politically, killed two birds with one stone by hiring Joe Deven to shadow Sayrs and to report to them the number of times he conferred with Non-Partisans. Thus, Joe had a job and Billy was watched.

Sayrs knew he was being shadowed by his old friend, and apparently he knew who had hired Deven to do the work, but he refused to take the situation seriously and chortled, frequently, when he would see his “Shadow” trailing about town.

In the last year, however, Deven has again been the particular political protégé of Commissioner Sayrs and also has won the friendship of many other political leaders. Nevertheless, he has not been, so far as can be determined, the recipient of any particular political patronage, though his political influence in the Third and Fifth Wards is said to have expanded rapidly under the new administration.


Camden Evening Courier - January 16, 1928

MURDER MOTIVE AT G.O.P. CLUB SPLITS SLEUTHS 
County Detectives Contend Philadelphia Gangster
Was Slain in Quarrel Over Woman
POLICE CLAIM HOLD-UP ATTEMPT CAUSED FIGHT
Deven Charged With Crime, Flannery and Taxi Driver Held Without Bail

With city and county authorities definitely divided on the motive and circumstance if the Sixth Ward Republican Club slaying, Joseph "Polack Joe" Deven was arraigned in Camden police court today and held without bail on a murder charge.

Through County Solicitor Walter Keown, retained as his attorney, Deven waived a police court hearing and was held to await grand jury action in the slaying of Joseph Cimini, Philadelphia gangster, at the political club early Saturday morning.

At the same time County Prosecutor Ethan P. Wescott announced his operatives had abandoned the theory Cimini was killed as the aftermath of an attempted hold-up, and were concentrating their investigation in the case on an effort to "find the woman'.

Statements of witnesses to the fatal shooting, the prosecutor added, made no mention of a hold-up, but contained the declaration that Cimini had been shot as a result of a feud with Charles "Chick" Hunt, former South Camden pugilist, concerning the affection of "Chick's girl". 

Police Claim Holdup

On the other hand, Captain John Golden, chief of the city detective bureau, declared he was unable to recall any mention of a girl in the statements obtained from witnesses, and added emphatically that his department still held the shooting had followed an attempted holdup of the club by Cimini and Joseph 'Mose’ Flannery.

Flannery and Hunt were both witnesses to the shooting by Deven, picturesque figure in Third Ward politics, which occurred at the Sixth Ward Club's headquarters, 908 Broadway..

After Deven had appeared in Police Court today, Flannery was arraigned as a material witness and as an accessory to the crime, with an additional charge accusing him of carrying concealed deadly weapons. Similar charges were made against Russell Sage, a taxicab driver, who arrived at the club with Flannery and Cimini early Saturday morning. These two were committed to the county jail without any bail by Judge Bernard Bertman

Hunt, however, was released under $1,000 bail as was Martin O'Brien, 27 years old, a former New Jersey State Trooper, and Harry Waterhouse, 28 years old, 1102 Marion street.

Three Others Arrested

During the day the police continued to build up their case against Flannery by arraigning him on the charges made by Milton Feinstein and Henry Mehrer. The also arrested Joseph Genther, 29 years old, 414 Atlantic Avenue; Robert Wolfe, 21 years old, 1106 Mechanic Street, and Eli Conaghy, 27 years old, 814 South 6th Street. Wolfe, who is Flannery's brother-in-law, and Genther were held "on suspicion" of having been with "Mose" at the time the latter is declared to have attacked and attempted to rob Mehrer, an Audubon policeman, outside the Ringside Inn, on the Black Horse Pike.

Conaghy, Flannery and Sage were arraigned and held without bail on charges of threatening to kill Feinstein and of carrying concealed deadly weapons. Feinstein declares these three with Cimini, the slain man, entered his cafe on January 2 and attempted to hold him up, threatening to kill him if he refused to “come across”. When he defied them by telling them to “go ahead and shoot”, Feinstein says, they departed.

Wolfe, Genther, and Conaghy were arrested by City Detectives George Ward and Thomas Cheeseman. It was Cheeseman who lodged the formal complaint of murder against Deven.

Two Others Released

Two other men who were questioned in connection with the murder case were in court this man but neither was held. They are Newton Blanchard, 923 St. John Street, a former boxing referee and alleged “stick man” at the crap game declared to have been in progress at the club before the shooting, and Michael Dandrea, 26 years old, of 1657 Norris Street. Both men had been released after questioning on Saturday. Police say they are the men who told police that trouble was imminent at the club and that “Flannery and another fellow are trying to stick up a bunch of other fellows.”

The city police hold-up theory was further attacked today by Francis J. McCarthy, a Philadelphian, who arrived before noon at the county prosecutor’s office and said he would co-operate with the authorities. He wishes to clear the dead man, he said, of the stigma of suspicion that he was slain while engaged in an attempted robbery.

Hearing in Police Court was brief. There was no testimony and Keown merely announced Deven would waive a hearing. Appearing also as attorney for Hunt, O’Brien, and Waterhouse, he said the other three men were “present at the unfortunate shooting” and thus should be held as material witnesses. He added the prosecutor’s office had permitted the release of the three under $1,000 bail each and requested Judge Bertman follow suit. The court acceded to this request but stipulated that new bail must be provided. The three men were freed shortly afterward when the bond was furnished by James Louis, 603 Kaighn Avenue, who had provided the bail yesterday in the prosecutor’s office.

Despite the declaration by two Camden district detectives who were present at the time and who said there was no evidence that gambling was in progress at the club, county detectives disclosed today that statements of the shooting contained the assertion that the men had gathered for a crap game.

These witnesses also declared the fatal shooting resulted from an argument over a woman for whose attention Cimini and Hunt were rivals.

In circles where the leading figures in the shooting move, it was freely predicted things would be fixed up for Deven and that Flannery, political worker and supposed gangster, was to be "made the goat".

Flannery is blamed by the city police for precipitating the battle. he has also been identified, according to County Detective Howard Smith, as one of the men who beat and robbed Henry Mehrer, an Audubon policeman, outside the Ringside Inn on the Black Horse Pike a fortnight ago. In addition, he is charges with attempting to hold up Milton Feinstein, cafe proprietor, 508 Kaighn Avenue. Cimini and Sage were also identified by Feinstein, according to Detective Smith.

According to the version of Cimini's death given in statements by witnesses to county detectives, "Chick" Hunt might have been the victim of the slaying had it not been for Deven's interference.

Gamble Over Affections

Like actors in a carefully-rehearsed drama, the various witnesses to the shooting made their statements nearly twelve hours after the shooting and, both city and county detectives say they agreed in all important aspects. Prosecutor Wescott declared, however, that no mention of an attempted hold-up was made despite the fact that City Detectives Clarence Arthur and Clarence Bunker- before whose eyes Cimini was shot down- stated Flannery and Cimini were holding the other men at bay when the detectives entered the room.

Instead, the statements of the witnesses described the scene as a dramatic gamble, with death as the stake, over the affections of a woman beloved by both Cimini and Hunt. This woman, who is married and estranged from her husband, is being sought today, Prosecutor Wescott said. According to detectives, Hunt was severely beaten last Wednesday night in a downtown gambling place by members of Cimini’s gang. Cimini, known also as Joseph Gannon, was a brother of William Cimini, a pugilist known in the ring as Billy Gannon.

The stories told by the witnesses place Hunt as one of the players in the crap game which was in progress at the club on Saturday morning. Deven was at the window, looking out, according to the witnesses, when he saw a taxicab draw up in front of the building. Flannery, Cimini and Sage descended and entered the club, it was declared.

“Here comes Mose, Chick, with that guy what’s gunnin’ for you” Deven is declared to have shouted.

A dozen gamesters fled from the room. “Chick” and a few of his friends held their ground and were waiting when the trio entered. Cimini, it is stated, walked over to Hunt.

“I told you,” he said with a sneer, “to stay away from that dame. She’s my girl. You were warned and sow you gotta take your medicine..”

Hunt said nothing.

Flannery drew from his pockets two automatics and flung them on the green-topped table, the stories go.

“C’mon, Chick,” he said. Don’t be yella. He toldja about the broad and he toldja what he’d do. Take your gun and shoot it out.”

“Chick” demurred.

“I don’t want none of that stuff, Mose,” he pleaded. He eyed Cimini carefully as the latter held one hand on the butt of a pistol which protruded from his belt.

Deven Interferes

Hunt made no careless movements toward the pistols on the table. Then Deven is declared to have interfered.

“None of that stuff, Mose” he said warningly. “Who’s this guy to come here making trouble? He’s no member, is he?”

Cimini moved quickly, the witnesses say. With an upward flip of his hand he brought the barrel of the automatic sharply against Deven’s chin. The latter lurched forward snatching one of the pistol from the table.

The weapon was discharged, the bullet tearing through Cimini’s heart. He died instantly.

The next moment, Arthur and Bunker, district detectives summoned by one of the players who had fled, burst through the door and lined up the men against the wall.

A short time later police arrested Blanchard and Dandrea. Blanchard, police say, was the man who gave them warning of the impending battle. Both men were released after questioning.

Released from Lakeland

The detectives found Deven cringing with fear under the table, the weapon still in his hand. Four other pistols were picked up in different parts of the room.

Deven was identified as a lovesick husband who appeared in the prosecutor’s office several month’s ago and asked to be “put away”. His wife had left him, he said, and he was afraid he might harm someone.

He was committed to the asylum at Lakeland. When or how he was released is a mystery. Lakeland officials said they had no record of him. Deven once shot himself in a suicide attempt police say, in grief over estrangement from his wife.

Gangdom’s prevailing opinion is that Flannery is “in” for it. Attempts and threats against the blond gangster’s life have furnished many lurid tales for the habitués of downtown hangouts.

Further, Flannery has made many bitter enemies through his political activities. In the last election he worked as a Democrat against “Mikey” Brown in the Eighth Ward. His overbearing tactics and bravado among the other downtown characters has increased the feeling against him, it is said.

Thus far, he has succeeded in keeping out of the toils for any length of time. His police record includes arrests for rum-sunning, carrying concealed weapons, alleged ballot frauds and attempted murder. His most recent arrest came in Philadelphia when he figured in a pistol battle in which a man was slain.


Camden Evening Courier - September 19, 1928

...continued...

...continued...

...continued...

John Kowal - Lewis Stehr 
John Skolski - John W. Golden James Hollis - Clarence Arthur 
Frank Moll -
Clarence Bunker Thomas Cheeseman
Sylvester McGrath
Lawrence T. Doran
Dr. David S. Rhone
William D. McDonaldson
Frank Leonard
Father McCorriston
Joseph "Mose" Flannery"  Joseph Moll - James Bonner  William Bonner  - Rita Leslie  James L. Hawkins - Hotel Royal
Walter Novak - Joseph Novak
Garfield Del Duca - 
Eugene Murphy - Russell Sage
Joseph "Cuzzy" Scarduzio
Patrick Driscoll

Front Street - Kaighn Avenue - Fairview Street - South 3rd Street
Camden High School - West Jersey Hospital - Sacred Heart Church


Camden Evening Courier - December 6, 1930

 
 

Dr. David S. Rhone - Charles V. Dickinson - Theodore Guthrie - James Paradise
Clarence Bunker - Howard Smith - Clarence Arthur - Henry Lutz - Clarence Thorn
John Kowal - Lewis H. Stehr  


Camden Evening Courier - December 10, 1930



Garfield S. Pancoast - Howard Smith - Theodore Guthrie - Clarence Bunker
Raymond Gondolf -
Peter Gondolf - Monitor Road - George Fingerhut - Hugh Fingerhut

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