ANTONIO MECCA was born in Italy on November 26, 1873. The son of an itinerant fruit dealer, he had come to America in 1888. Antonio Mecca arrived in Camden in 1890 after picking berries in nearby Hammonton for a year, , and married his wife Isabella Gargano around 1894.
Antonio Mecca began in business by selling fruit from a pushcart in Camden, and by 1902 owned a liquor store. In 1906 he opened a funeral business at South 4th and Division Streets. He was an organizer of the Camden Italian American Building Association, serving as president beginning in 1907.
Besides the funeral parlor and the Building Association, Antonio Mecca was involved in real estate and fire insurance. He arranged steamship tickets to and from Europe, was a notary public, and ran a substation of the Camden Post Office from the building he had erected in 1908, which due both to its appearance and its importance to the Italian-American community came to be known as "The White House".
The White House, at 819 South 4th Street, is a two story building designed in the style of a Mediterranean Villa. It was and still is situated in close proximity to two Roman Catholic churches, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, 832 South 4th Street, and the church of St. Peter and St. Paul at Spruce and St. John Streets, just east of Broadway, and from these two churches Antonio Mecca initially drew much of his clientele. As his reputation grew and the Italian-American community spread throughout Camden, his business grew also.
From the White House, Antonio Mecca became a navigator for those many immigrants who spoke no English. The post office sub-station he ran was to assist residents in sending money to family back in Italy. Besides his duties as a notary public, when needed, he interpreted for fellow Italians in Camden courts, helped neighbors get citizenship papers and waived fees for funerals if families did not have sufficient funds. "Tony Mec" as he was known in the neighborhood, also instituted a pre-paid funeral plan for working class families at fifty cents a week. He also operated a limousine rental service.
The 1910 Census shows that Antonio Mecca, his wife Isabella, and his widowed mother Angiolina were living at 819 South 4th Street. Antonio and Isabella Mecca became American citizens in 1913. Mr. and Mrs. Mecca remained at 819 South 4th Street through the 1930 Census, and Antonia Mecca appears in the 1947 Camden City Directory.
In 1919, Antonio Mecca, along with Joseph LaMaina, and Frank Viggiano founded the First Italian Building & Loan Association.
The Mecca's next door neighbors from the 1910s through the 1940s were his relatives, the Fiore Troncone family. Fiore Troncone served for many years as a Detective with the Camden Police Department. Other neighbors included the Lario family on Pine Street, sons Frank M. Lario Sr. and Anthony M. Lario would become prominent Attorneys in Camden.
Involved with many civic organizations, Antonio Mecca was also a member of the Camden Chiselers Club, which was organized in 1930 and included many members of Camden's political and business community.
Antonio Mecca was still living and in the funeral business at 819 South 4th Street as late as 1947. He passed away in 1952. 819 South 4th Street was operated by long-time employee Richard Troncone as the Troncone Funeral Home for a few years after his death.
Antonio and Isabella Mecca rest at Calvary Cemetery in what is now Cherry Hill NJ.
The White House at 819 South 4th Street still stands today. As the neighborhood changed, the building had deteriorated, and by the early 1990s it was totally unusable. Due to the efforts of Sal Scuderi the building was restored. In May of 2001, it opened again to the delight of some hundred current and past residents who turned out for its dedication.
Philadelphia Inquirer - December 12, 1906
First Italian Republican League - Antonio
Philadelphia Inquirer - September 18, 1908
South Jersey: A History 1624-1924
ANTONIO MECCA, widely known and respected throughout Camden, and especially in the Italian section of the city where his business interests have been located for years, is a man who wholly by his own efforts and energy has won his way and found goals of success. One of the leading undertakers in the city and very well known in New Jersey for his painstaking methods and the personal kindly interest he takes in the practice of his profession, Mr. Mecca has exemplified through a life of continuous activity and usefulness the great value of the quality of perseverance. His courage and his talents have been the means of bringing him to the fore in business, political and social matters: and as one of the results of his indomitable good nature and his deep interest in the social progress of the people of his own nationality, he fraternizes generously with many associations, and holds office in many. The story of his career is that of one who has toiled hard and with merited success for the results attained. He is a son of Vitio Mecca, who was engaged in the grocery business, and who died July 16, 1896, and of Angelina Marie (Rinelde) Mecca, who makes her home with her son.
Antonio Mecca was born November 26, 1873, in Italy, and though he attended the schools of his native place, the facilities were poor, and early in life he went to work on his father's farm, prior to his removal to the United States. He well recalls the brave efforts he made to establish himself here and to make a living: In 1888-1889, for example, he took the first Job that was offered him, and he spent his time profitably in picking berries in Hammonton, and then he went to Camden to try to make his way into more promising business. As a result he worked in a Federal Street fruit store one year, after which he bought a pushcart, and sold merchandise on the streets. Thereby, he was enabled to earn enough money to open an oyster saloon on Market Street, in 1891, turning that into a liquor saloon after the first year, and he so continued, and in the same location, until 1905. It was while engaged in the saloon business that he found many opportunities for association with real estate and fire insurance matters; and he accepted such opportunities. And it was at this time that he made his first start in the undertaking business, serving an apprenticeship of five years with George Taylor, of Camden, a prominent funeral director, and that apprenticeship being served while Mr. Mecca was able to give spare time from other work. He was therefore able to take out his undertaker's and embalmer's license in December, 1906, and he started his funeral directing establishment at No. 330 Spruce Street. With the requirements for the increase of his varied interests, and particularly those attending the modernizing of his undertaking business, he built his residence and office at Division and Fourth streets in 1908, and began to occupy the premises in 1909. Since that date, also, he has had charge of a sub-post office at his residence and office, and he also is a notary public. Mr. Mecca disposed of his saloon in 1905, and gives all of his attention to his present business. He was made vice-president of the Victory Trust Company, of Camden, December 1, 1923. Since 1907 he has been president of the Camden Italian Building and Loan Association; and he is a member of the board of directors of the Italian and American Building and Loan Association, of which he was one of the organizers. He was court interpreter in the Camden criminal court for six years, 1900-1906; and by appointment of Judge Lyon of the Municipal Court he was interpreter for that court from 1906 to 1912.
Mr. Mecca has many fraternal interests, and he is well-esteemed and popular in all. He is a member of the Improved Order of Red Men; has been president of the Italian Republican League since its organization; member of the Italian Beneficial Association of Philadelphia, the Italian Beneficial Columbus Society; and a member of at least ten other Italian societies. His business interests also prominently associate him with the National and State Associations of Funeral Directors. He is a communicant of the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Roman Catholic Church.
Mr. Mecca married, September 22, 1892, at the Italian Roman Catholic Church in Philadelphia, Isabella Gargano, a daughter of John Batisto Gargano, who died January 18, 1914, and of Teresa (Penelle) Gargano. Mr. and Mrs. Gargano came to the United States from Italy in 1888, settling in Philadelphia. They were the parents of ten children.
Camden Courier-Post - October 20, 1931
Italian Women Republicans Stage Second Annual Ball
Prominent Republicans gathered last night at the First Italian Republican League hall, 813 South Fourth Street, for the second annual ball of the Camden County Italian Women's Republican Club.
The grand march was led by Mr. and Mrs. Antonio Mecca, followed by Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Laviano, Mr. and Mrs. Cascini, Mrs. Mamie Piraine, president of the club, with Anthony Di Marino, and Mrs. Anna Larusso with Harry Larusso.
Mrs. Mecca was chairman of the ball, assisted by Mrs. Laviano, secretary; Mrs. John Gargano, treasurer; Mrs. Frank Valeriano and Miss Mary Lario.
Among the guests were Walter S. Keown, chairman of the Republican county committee; Assemblymen Frank M. Traveline, Jr., and George D. Rothermel, Postmaster Charles H. Ellis, County Detective Fiore Troncone, Miss Marie Doyle and Mrs. Pauline Caperoon, of Republican headquarters, and Walter Sekula, candidate for freeholder from the Eighth Ward.
Camden Courier-Post - October 31, 1931
Gloucester Republicans concluded their final Baird rally of the campaign last night at their headquarters, 101 North King Street.
Polls throughout the slate will open for the general election Tuesday at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. All voters in the polling place at 8 p.m. or in the room "'here the election is taking place, or in line, shall be permitted to vote, under the law. Election officers have been instructed to place a police officer at the end of the line at 8 p.m.
Black Horse pike Republican factions have united in a combined front to further the candidacy of David Baird, Jr., for governor. There are no local fights in the party during the current campaign. There were intense local primary battles, principally in Runnemede and Gloucester Township, but all factions in those municipalities are now working for Baird.
A bitter contest for justice of the peace in the Eighth Ward will be waged at the election on Tuesday. William Lane, of 1634 Broadway, is one of the seven seeking one of three vacancies. Lane is the nephew of James M. Lane, who was prominent politically several years ago. He is a captain in the Moose Lodge bugle corps. He is also secretary and treasurer of the Regular Eighth Ward Republican Club. Of the seven men running for justice of the peace, four are Democrats.
Mrs. Emma E. Hyland, Democratic state committee woman, and Assemblyman George D. Rothermel are wagering each other a hat on the outcome of the gubernatorial race between Baird and Moore. Rothermel, however, will have to pay more for a hat for Mrs. Hyland, should Baird pay for a fedora for Rothermel, should Moore be defeated.
A revival of the old-time political parade was staged last night by the First Italian Republican League when more than 200 automobiles and several hundred marchers passed through Camden streets to the accompaniment of stirring music.
Led by former Coroner Antonio Mecca and County Detective Fiore Troncone, the parade passed from the league's clubhouse, 813 South Fourth Street, to West Street, to Benson Street, to Broadway, past the Republican headquarters, to Mickle Street, to Third to Chestnut and back to the clubhouse. Meetings held on various floors of the clubhouse drew several thousand voters..
Camden Courier-Post -February 1, 1933
G.O.P. GROUPS UNITE FOR DANCE AND FAIR
Four Republican groups will join in staging their thirty-seventh annual ball and fair March 17 at the headquarters of the First Italian Republican League, 813 South FourthStreet. The units under whose auspices the program will be presented include the league, the Fifth Ward unit of the Young Republicans of Camden County, the Camden County Women's Italian Republican Club, and the Young Ladies' Italian Republican Club.
Camden Courier-Post - February 9, 1933
MONTANA WED TO MISS PALLADINO
Camden Courier-Post - August 26, 1941
Magin Laid to Rest By War Veteran Buddies
Funeral services for City Commissioner Henry Magin were held today with his colleagues in official and veterans circles participating.
were conducted in city commission chambers on the second floor of city
hall, in charge of Rev. Dr. W.W. Ridgeway, rector of St. Wilfrid's Episcopal
The casket was carried by war veteran associates of the public works director, who died from a heart attack Friday. A color guard from the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion preceded the casket, followed by the four remaining members of the city commission, Mayor George Brunner and commissioners E. George Aaron, Mrs. Mary W. Kobus and Dr. David S. Rhone.
A guard of honor lined both sides of' city hall steps, 22 policemen on one side and 22 firemen on the other, representing Magin's age, 44 years.
Hundreds of men and women waited
outside the building to pay their respects as the solemn procession
filed by. Mayor Brunner had declared this morning a holiday for city
employees. The casket was borne by Thomas Jackson and Samuel Magill,
both past Legion commanders; Leon McCarty, past commander of August
Walter Chapter, Disabled American Veterans; Richard Jermyn, past
commander of Post 1270, Veterans of Foreign Wars; Benjamin P.
Thomas, past captain of Sparrow Ship No. 1269. V. F. W.; and William
Miller, past State commander, D. A. V.
Three trucks were required to carry
the floral pieces from the scene of the services to the National
Cemetery at Beverly, where burial took place.
An estimated 8000 persons from all walks of life paid their respects to the late official by viewing the body as it lay in state in the commission chambers.
The throng of mourners of Camden city and county was the largest to converge on a public building since the funeral of Fire Chief Charles Worthington, who was killed while fighting a fire almost 20 years ago. His body was placed on public view in the rotunda of the old county courthouse.
File Past Bier
A continuous progression of people filed past the flag draped bier for more than three and one-half hours. Scores of Republicans and hundreds of Democrats joined in the tribute.
Services were conducted by Camden
lodges of Elks and Moose. Military rites were conducted by the
Fairview Post, American Legion, of which Magin was a founder and past
commander. The tribute was led by Mitchell Halin, post commander, and C.
Richard Allen, past department commander.
James W. Conner, chief clerk of the
city water bureau and past State Commander of the V.F.W., conducted
rites at the grave.
Mayor Brunner and Commissioners
Kobus, Aaron, and
came early and remained throughout the hours of
viewing. Mrs. Helen Magin, the widow, and daughter Helen, attired in
deep mourning, arrived shortly after 7:00 PM.
Embraces Widow, Daughter
Commissioner Kobus, who knelt in
prayer before the bier, arose and went over to Mrs. Magin and her
daughter. Mrs. Kobus
embraced and kissed the widow and daughter of the late commissioner.
They were in tears.
American Legion and V. F. W. members
in uniform alternated as members of the military guard of honor. A
detail of 50 policemen was under command of Acting Lieutenant John
Garrity. Fifty firemen, under supervision of Deputy Chief Walter
assisted the patrolmen in handling the crowd, which at times choked the
stairways leading to the
Albert H. Molt, director of the Board of Freeholders and
John J. Tull, Oscar Moore, Ventorino
and Emil J. McCall arrived shortly after 7:00 PM. Moore and Tull wore American
Legion overseas caps. Albert S. Marvel, clerk of the board, accompanied
of the various bureaus in the department of public works, headed by
Commissioner Magin, came in delegations with the highway bureau having
150, the largest number.
A. Abbott, acting director of the department, accompanied by James P.
Carr, superintendent of Streets;
highway bureau employees.
Abbott is deputy director of revenue and finance and first
assistant to Mayor Brunner. He was named by Brunner as
director until the City Commission elects Mr.
Clerk Frank J. Suttill, City
Clerk Clay W.
Fire Chief John H. Lennox and
James A. Howell, chief of
city electrical bureau, attended, as did Albert
Austermuhl, secretary of
the board of education. Every city department sent a floral piece.
Outstanding Floral Tribute
floral chair was sent by the Camden Police and Firemen’s Association.
The word “Rest” was made up of flowers. The offering of the Veterans League
an organization formed by Commissioner Magin and of which
was the first president, was a large floral pillow.
The freeholders and county officials
gave a large floral basket. Floral tributes came from the employees of
the board of education, the RCA Manufacturing Company, the police and
fire bureaus, Pyne Point Athletic Association, the Elks, Moose and
several Democratic clubs.
The floral tributes came in such
numbers yesterday afternoon that Funeral Director Harry Leonard and his
assistants could not find room for them in the commission chamber
proper. They were banked on both sides, in the rear and over the casket.
Among prominent officials and
citizens who came to pay their respects were Congressman Charles A.
Wolverton and his son, Donnell, Assemblymen Joseph W. Cowgill and J. Frank Crawford, Sidney P.
comptroller, Thomas C. Schneider, president of Camden County Council No.
10, New Jersey Civil Service Association.
Others at Bier
Others were Sue Devinney, secretary
to Mrs. Kobus; Fred S. Caperoon; Henry Aitken, city sealer of weights
and measures, Horace R. Dixon, executive director of the Camden Housing
Authority; George I. Shaw, vice president of the board of education.
Smith, chairman of the Elks
Crippled Children Committee and commander of East Camden Post, V.F.W.; Albert
Becker, commander of Camden County Post 126, Jewish War Veterans; Dr.
Howard E. Primas and Wilbur F. Dobbins, members of the Camden Housing
Authority; Postmaster Emma E.
Hyland; Samuel E. Fulton, member of the
Camden local assistance board.
former Assemblyman Rocco Palese, former Freeholder Maurice Bart and
wife, County Detective James Mulligan, Deputy City Clerk William D.
Sayrs, Mary King, secretary to City Clerk Reesman, Charles W. Anderson
and John W. Diehl Jr., former members of the housing authority, Walter
P. Wolverton, chief clerk of the public works department; Thomas J.
Kenney, Maurice Hertz, Isadore Hermann, chief of the city tax title
bureau; S. Raymond Dobbs; acting chief of city property, John Oziekanski,
building inspector, Harry Langebein, city assessor.
Oliver H. Bond,
housing manager of
Clement T. Branch Village; former Judge Joseph
Varbalow, acting city
counsel John J. Crean, assistant City Counsel Edward V. Martino, Paul
Day, secretary of city board of assessors, former Assemblyman William T.
Iszard, Harry Roye, district director of NYA; Victor J. Scharle and
Martin Segal, Democratic and Republican registrars, respectively, of the
Camden County permanent registration bureau.
Mrs. Marian Garrity and Mrs. Mary F. Hendricks, vice chairman and secretary respectively, of the Republican City Committee; Dr, Ethan A. Lang and Dr. Richard P. Bowman, members of the board of education; Edward J. Borden, Carl Kisselman, Harry A. Kelleher, Samuel T. French Sr., former Freeholder Walter Budniak, Coroner Paul R. Rilatt, County Treasurer Edward J. Kelleher, William Shepp, of the city legal bureau, Marie Carr, stenographer, mayor's office; Samuel T. French Jr., member, board of education.
Also John C. Trainor, member of the
Camden County Board of Elections; Antonio
Mecca, funeral director;
Alexander Feinberg, solicitor of the housing authority, former
Freeholder John T. Hanson, Sterling Parker and Paul Reihman, member of
the county park commission.
James O’Brien, commander of the
Camden Disabled American Veterans, was in charge of services by veterans
at the cemetery. Former Freeholder Edward J. Quinlan, county
vice-commander of the American Legion, directed last night memorial
services and was in charge of the firing squad at the grave.
819 South 4th Street
July 10, 2004
The two-story building at the far left is where Antonio Mecca did his embalming. The garage building to the left of the two-story building is where he kept his hearse and limousines.
Click on Image to Enlarge
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