Harry
G.
Layton


HARRY GARRISON LAYTON was born in Pennsgrove, New Jersey on April 18, 1889 to Harry and Anna Layton. His father was a carpenter and by 1900 had brought the family to Camden. When the census was taken in 1900, Harry G. Layton was living with his parents and siblings at 578 Auburn Street in South Camden. Harry Layton was the second oldest of the seven Layton children at home at the time of the Census, the others being older sister Ray and younger siblings Florence, William, Robert, Swain, and Homer. Another son, Warren, was born around 1904.

When he registered for the draft on June 5, 1917 Harry G. Layton was working as a washer at Thomas Walker's establishment, located at South 4th and Washington Streets. 

The 1920 Census shows Harry Layton still working as a washer in a commercial laundry. He lived with his widowed mother, sister Florence and brothers William, Swain, Homer and Warren at 713 Carman Street. By 1924 he had been appointed to the Camden Fire Department. He was then living with his mother, sister Florence, and brothers Swain and Warren at 713 Carman Street. 

Shortly before 8 A.M. on July 11, 1929, a twelve year old boy walking along Front Street near Elm saw smoke coming from the West Jersey Paper Company. The factory building, a large structure, was heavily fortified with reinforced doors and steel mesh window screens. The Box at Point and Pearl Streets was transmitted and Engines 6, 4 and 2 with Ladder 1 and Battalion 1 turned out. As the alarm was received shortly before Roll Call, several units responded with the manpower of double strength companies. The building's fortifications posed serious forcible entry and ventilation problems for arriving fire fighters. By the time companies got water on the blaze, the entire paper and lime stock was ruined. The factory erupted into huge clouds of dense, acrid smoke as the fire extended to roll after roll of paper stock. Armed with pike poles and axes, Truckies wore themselves out forcing entry to countless windows and doors along the perimeter of the building.

As handlines were advanced to the interior of the structure, Hosemen Harry Layton and George Kirby became lost inside the factory under worsening smoke conditions. Fortunately, Kirby located a doorway and guided Layton to the outside where both men collapsed in the street. The new mascot of Engine Company 2, Jack the Airedale, belonged to Fireman Artie Batten. This blaze was the dog's first major fire and he caused considerable comment among the men. Dashing into the heavily charged building, accompanying Fireman Batten and braving the dense smoke for twenty minutes at a time, the mascot would only return to the street when Engine 2 would withdraw for a blow of fresh air. For many years to come, Jack would attend hundreds of fires with Engine Company 2, and would later be killed in the line of duty. In all, seven fire fighters were overcome in the dense smoke of the paper factory. The blaze resulted in a $65,000 property loss and was the third serious fire to occur at that location in twenty-five years.

Harry Layton was still unmarried when the Census was enumerated in April of 1930. He was still living with his mother, sister Florence and brother Warren at 713 Carman Street. The 1940 City Directory indicates that he was living at 619 North 4th Street and was still working for the Camden Fire Department. His mother, sister Florence, and brother Warren were still living at 713 Carman Street when the City Directory was compiled.

Harry Layton had married a widow, Katherine Quigley VanSciver, and had retired from the fire department by the spring of 1942. He lived with his wife Katherine in Wildwood, New Jersey. He last lived in Cape May Courthouse, New Jersey. Harry G. Layton died in August of 1978.

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