George
C.
Wagner


GEORGE C. WAGNER was somewhat well known in Camden, as he tended bar for his brother, Roy A. Wagner, at two locations, both named Roy's Cafe, near Eighth Street and Federal Street for many years.

George C. Wagner was born May 18, 1904 in New Jersey to Harry J. and Sue Wagner. Harry Jacobs Wagner worked as an ironworker, a boilermaker, and later as an engineer. Susan Wagner had been previously married, to man named Sharp, and had a daughter from the earlier marriage when the census was taken in 1900. The Wagners lived in a rented home at 815 Bridge Avenue, next door the Mathias and M. Caroline Hess. The two families would live side by side for over 30 years. Mathias Hess and family lived at 719 Carman Street in 1890, this worth noting as George C. Wagner would live most of his life before 1950 on that block.

By the time the 1906 Camden City directory was compiled, the Wagner family had rented a house at 745 Carman Street, while at 747 Carman lived Mr. and Mrs. Mathias Hess, and a boarder named George C. Wagner, Harry's brother (his name is sometimes given as George K. Wagner). Both George and Harry had their occupations listed as ironworker.

When the 1910 census was taken, the Harry Wagner family then were renting a home at 745 Carman Street. Besides George and his parents, both 36 at the time, the family included step-sister Ethel Kinsey, 17, and brothers Philip B. Wagner, 12; Harry J. Jr., 10; and Roy A. Wagner, 8. A divorced uncle, Robert B. Tomlinson, lived with the family. Interestingly enough, next door at 747 Carman Street, lived Mathias and M. Caroline Hess. Robert B. Tomlinson Jr. boarded with the Hess family, as did uncle George C. Wagner. 

Young George C. Wagner attended Camden public schools. Like the majority of young men of his time, he did not go on to Camden High School. He worked at different jobs in the early 1920s. 

George C. Wagner lived at 729 Carman Street in the 1910s through the 1930s. The 1914 City Directory shows the Wagners at 729 Carman, while the Hess family was at 723 Carman Street. The 1920 Census shows Harry And Susan Wagner at 729 Carman Street with four sons- Harry, 19, Roy, 17, George, 15, and Mathias, 9, obviously named after Mathias Hess. The Hess family, Robert Tomlinson Jr., and uncle George Wagner, were still at 723 Carman Street. Mrs. Hess passed away in February of 1927. Mathias Hess would subsequently go to live with Harry & Susan Wagner. 

The 1924 City Directory indicates that George C. Wagner had gone to work as an ironworker, Camden then having several foundries. The 1929 directory gives his occupation as 'spindleworker', which probably meant that he worked at one of the textile firms that were in Camden at that time. The 1929 City Directory also shows that brother Harry J. Wagner Jr. had joined the Camden fire department and was living at 723 Carman Street. Harry J. Wagner Jr. would rise to the rank of Acting Chief of Department in 1958. His son, also named harry J. Wagner, also served with the Fire Department in Camden.

The April 1930 Census shows George Wagner still living at 729 Carman Street with his brother Mathias, 19, and his parents. Mathias Hess, then a widower, also lived there. George Wagner's occupation is given as "operator" at a "cloak factory"- there were a number of coat manufacturing firm in Camden at that time. George C. Wagner was still single at that time. 

During the 1930s George C. Wagner married a woman named Mildred. By 1942 they were separated. He remarried after returning home from the war. His second wife Lillian, had three children, Joan, Carol and Richard, from a previous marriage. George and Lillian would go on to have eight of their own. Altogether the Wagners had ten children. Besides Joan, Carol and Richard the family included Leroy (Lee), Kenneth, Bonnie,  fraternal twins Larry and Louise, Karen, and George Wagner Jr.  

On August 26, 1942 George C. Wagner, then separated from his wife Mildred, was inducted into the United States Army. George C. Wagner had divorced and remarried by 1947. The 1947 City Directory shows he and his brother Phillip Wagner were both tending bar at Roy's Cafe at 800 Federal Street. Roy's Cafe was owned and operated by another brother, Roy A. Wagner. George C. and Lillian Wagner were then living at 611 Carman Street. The family had moved to 337 Warren Avenue by 1956, and remained there through at least the fall of 1959. Roy's Cafe had also moved, to 733 Federal Street. The tavern remained open into the early 1970s. Oldest brother, Harry J. Wagner Jr., would become a fire fighter in Camden. Youngest brother Mathias Wagner managed the Woolworth's store at Broadway and Federal Street.

During the 1960s and 1970s one "urban renewal" project after another tore through downtown Camden. Carman Street literally disappeared, and the 300 block of Warren Avenue, which ran from Mickle Street to Wright Avenue just east of Carteret Street, now lies below under the southbound access ramp to Interstate Route 676, just east of Haddon Avenue.

At some point in the 1960s George C. Wagner and family moved to 832 Market Street, directly across the street from the Towne Park Motel. By the 1980s this was the only building still standing in the triangle-shaped lot at the intersection of Federal and Market Streets. The building is best remembered as the home of a check cashing business, and was razed in the early 2000s to make way for a medical facility. Things then were not so good, Roy's Cafe was gone, and George C. Wagner was living his daughter and other family members in a small apartment above the check cashing business. The family left Camden around 1971. 

Last a resident of Woodbury NJ, George C. Wagner died in February of 1974.


Roy's Cafe

George C. Wagner is behind the bar. The couple at the far end of the bar are Roy A. Wagner, who owned the establishment, and his wife Jennie.  The dark-haired man seated next to Mrs. Wagner is identified as Al Bott. The father and son in the foreground at right are Joseph and Sonny Leaming.


Downtown Camden - 1957

The lower end of Carman Street is Indicated by the red dot on the roof of 565 Carman Street, just east of Broadway, behind the Broadway (later known as the Midway) Theater. To the left you can see where the tavern and Carman Street lay in relationship to City Hall, the old Camden County courthouse, and Camden Catholic High School. All but City Hall were gone by the end of 1961. The Parkade Building had not yet been built.


Carman Street - 1961

This aerial photo, cropped from a larger photograph showing the dismantlement of the railroad that had run from the old ferry terminal through the heart of Camden, shows Carman Street from "top to bottom", beginning at Broadway to its end, a few doors past the intersection of Warren Street, at the bottom of the picture. City Hall and what was then Lit Brothers (today the County welfare building) are at upper right, and Haddon Avenue can be seen bisecting Carman Street diagonally. Also easily discerned is the Broadway Theater, at the head of Carman Street the " Munger & Long building" (then J.C. Penney's), the YMCA building and the still standing New Jersey Bell Telephone building along Federal Street

Click on Image to Enlarge


Warren Street - 1961

Another aerial photo, cropped from a larger photograph showing the dismantlement of the railroad tracks.

Warren Street is at the very bottom of the photo. Carman Street lies to the north, on the other side of the tracks. Camden Convention Hall (the old armory) is at mid-left. Cooper Hospital can be seen at the upper left.

Click on Image to Enlarge


The Towne Park Motel stood in the 800 block of Market Street in Camden NJ. Built after World War II, its business declined as Camden's economy fell off. By the early 1990s it had devolved into a rooming house, inhabited mostly by junkies. prostitutes, and other undesirables. It was razed early in the decade. 


Thanks to Robin Lee Hambleton, granddaughter of George C. Wagner and his daughter Bonnie Wagner DeAngelo for their help in creating this page.


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