Harry
Jacobs
Wagner


HARRY  JACOBS WAGNER JR. served as a Camden Fire Fighter for many years, rising to the rank of Acting Chief of Department in 1958. 

Harry Jacobs Wagner Jr. was born February 1, 1900 in New Jersey to Harry J. and Sue Wagner. Harry Jacobs Wagner worked as an ironworker, a boilermaker, and as an engineer. He appears also to have briefly served as a member of the Camden Fire Department. 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 Harry J. Wagner Jr. 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 Sr.'s brother (his name is sometimes given as George K. Wagner). Both George and Harry Sr. 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; Roy A. Wagner, 8 and George C. 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. 

Harry Wagner Sr. and his family 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 their four sons- Harry Jr., 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. Another family had moved to 733 Carman Street in the 1910s, that of Abijah and Flora Barker. Their son Albert Barker would many years later follow Harry Wagner Jr. onto the Camden Fire Department.

The 1924 City Directory indicates that Harry Wagner Jr. was single, still living at 729 Carman Street, working as a clerk at the Newton Coal Company. He had previously worked for the Camden Iron Works. He was still living at 729 Carman Street when the 1927 City Directory was compiled. No longer working as a clerk, Harry Wagner Jr. had joined the Camden Fire Department on August 1, 1924. He was assigned to Engine Company 1, at 409 Pine Street.

On January 1, 1928, Harry J. Wagner and other Camden fire fighters organized the Box 315 Association. This organization was chartered for the mutual benefit of Camden Firemen, its principal purpose being to fund a commemorative badge for all members of the Department retiring at twenty or more years of service. In the event that an active member died before achieving retirement status, a death benefit in the sum of $20.00 would be paid to the member's estate. Its title, 315, was arbitrarily chosen as the number of the first Box transmitted over the circuits, following the organization's formation. A cabinet of Officers; a By-Laws Committee; Auditing Committee; and a Board of Trustees comprised of one representative from each fire company in the City, were designated by election and appointment.

This automobile ornament remains the only artifact from the long gone association. Box 315 was located at Ninth Street and Ferry Avenue.

All active members of the Department were expected to join the organization. An initiation fee of $1.00 and regular dues assessed at ten cents per month, funded operations. Any member of the Department that failed to join the organization within three months after completing his probationary period in the Uniformed Force, was required to pay an initiation fee of $5.00, plus the average of all dues and assessments incurred from the time he was eligible to join. The association met on the first Wednesday of each month.

Charter members of the By-Laws Committee were Chester Andrus, Chairman; Harry Wagner, Henry Zook, Harrison Pike, William Spencer and Nelson Andrews. The association is believed to have actively functioned until sometime during the 1940s.

The 1929 City Directory also shows that Harry Wagner Jr. had joined the Camden Fire Department and was living at 723 Carman Street with his wife, Ella "Jane" Wagner. Apparently the young couple moved into the former Hess house when Mathias Hess went to live with Harry Jr.'s parents. The 1930 Census shows the Harry Wagner Jr. family at 723 Carman Street with their two children, Harry J. Wagner III and Jane. Mr. and Mrs. Wagner would reside at the Carman Street address into the 1960s. Fire Department records from 1931 show an address of 322 Warren Avenue. This appears to have been a temporary and short term move. The 1940 City Directory shows Harry Wagner Jr. at 723 Carman Street , and his father, then a pump operator with the Camden Water Department, at 729 Carman Street .

On April 16, 1930 Harry Wagner Jr. was promoted to Junior Captain. He remained at Engine Company 1, and stayed on when he was again promoted, to acting Captain, on February 25, 1943. He continued to rise through the ranks, as acting Battalion Chief in November of 1945, and Battalion Chief in December of 1949. This title was renamed District Chief in 1951. Early in 1958, upon the retirement of Chief of Department William Van Pfefferle,  Harry J. Wagner Jr. was appointed as Acting Chief of Department, pending the confirmation of Edward McDowell by the City Commission. Chief Wagner resumed his post as District Chief. He was named Administrative District Chief in 1961. He retired in April of 1964 due to heart trouble and moved with his wife to Cape May Courthouse NJ. During the 1960s and 1970s one "urban renewal" project after another tore through downtown Camden. The 700 block of Carman Street literally disappeared, the present Police Administration Building, its parking and impound lots occupying the land where much of Carman Street once was.

The 1947 Camden City Directory also shows that his son Harry J. Wagner III, was also serving as a fire fighter with the Fire Department in Camden. Brother Roy A.  Wagner was then the owner of Roy's Tavern, at 800 Federal Street, where brothers Phillip and George C. Wagner worked as bartenders. Roy's Tavern moved a few years later to 733 Federal Street, where it remained open into the early 1970s. Youngest brother Mathias Wagner managed the Woolworth's store at Broadway and Federal Street.

Harry J. Wagner Jr. was last a resident of Cape May NJ, where he passed away in January of 1980.


World War I Draft Card
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Camden Courier-Post * February 17, 1938
WONSETLER HAILED AS NEXT PRESIDENT OF STATE
Dinner Speakers Predict Camden Man Will Get Association Post
N. J. OFFICERS ATTEND

Robert Wonsetler, of the Camden Fire Department, was hailed as the next state president of the Firemen's Mutual Benevolent Association at the 41st anniversary dinner of Camden Local, No. 5, last night. It was held in Kenney's Cafe, with 150 members and their women folks attending.

The Camden man is now first vice president of the state association and state representative of the local. James Delaney, of Elizabeth, state president, and other state officers who were among the speakers predicted that when the local has its 42nd anniversary next year, it will have occasion to celebrate the election of Wonsetler as 1939 state president.

Other speakers were Mayor George E. Bruner, City Commissioners Mary W. Kobus and Frank J. Hartmann, Assemblyman Rocco Palese, Fire Chief John H. Lennox, Carlton W. Rowand, Bruce A. Wallace and Freeholder Edward J. Quinlan.

State officers attending, besides Delaney and Wonsetler, were Fred Bailey, Weehawken, second vice president; George Steele, Union City, recording secretary; Joseph Burke, Newark, financial secretary, and Jack Reed, Kearny, treasurer.

Surrogate Frank B. Hanna, who was toastmaster, referred to the three city commissioners present as "candidates for re-election without opposition."

Commissioner Kobus, head of the city fire department, was applauded when she announced wash-stands and showers are being installed in local firehouses and that windbreakers and new fire nets have been ordered.

"The firehouses in Camden are in better condition than ever before,"
Commissioner Hartmann said.

Officers of the Camden Local are Chester Andrus, president; W. Samuel Mountney, vice president; Nelson Andrews, recording secretary; Harrison Pike, financial secretary; Henry Zook, treasurer; Ralph Bingemann, sergeant-at-arms; William H. Harrison, chaplain, and Wonsetler, state representative.

Russell J. Anderson was chairman of the dinner committee, which included Harry Wagner, Arthur Batten, Harry Wilkers, David Humphries and Pike.



 

 

 

Camden Courier-Post
April 24, 1948

William Earl Toy
William Harring Sr.
Harry Wagner Jr.
Frank Oberman
Morris Odell
Ervin Brennan
Christopher Moll
William Van Pfefferle
Lemuel Toy
Margaret Voll Toy
William Earl Toy Jr.
West Street
Federal Street
South 17th Street

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For Enlarged View

 



Camden Courier-Post * December 2, 1957

Harry Wagner - Austin Marks - Delaware Avenue - Penn Street
J. Wilson & Co., J. Eavenson & Sons Division soap factory 

 1959- At Engine 6 with Mayor Alfred Pierce and 
Acting Chief Engineer
Edward MacDowell


In the staff office at Fire Headquarters (kneeling from left) Fireman Ernest Tartaglia, Fireman Howard Lewis, Fireman Harrison MacNeir; (standing from left) Captain Allen Hess, Fireman Dominic Dalanni, Fireman Henry Keubler, Chief Harry Wagner, Fireman James Troutman, Chief Edward Michalak, Fireman James Smith, Chief Edward MacDowell, Fireman John Yates, and Fireman George Wade. - 1961


Director of Public Safety Edward Garrity presents
Chief of Department
Edward MacDowell with a municipal proclamation
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Witnessing, from left: Fireman George Wade, Fireman Harrison MacNeir,
Fireman John Gaffney Sr., Fireman James Troutman, Fireman Ernest Tartaglia, Captain Allen Hess, Fireman John Yates, District Chief Harry Wagner (obscured), District Chief Edward Michalak, Fireman Dominick Dalanni, Fireman
Howard Lewis, Fireman Henry Keubler


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





Thanks to Robin Lee Hambleton, great-niece of Harry J. Wagner Jr., and Bonnie Wagner DeAngelo, his  neice for their help in creating this page.


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