ELMER C. JOHNSON JR. was born in New Jersey on
August 21, 1924 to Elmer and Helen Johnson. His father, a veteran of World
War I, worked as a carpenter. The family lived at 566 Walnut Street when
the census was taken in April of 1930. Elmer's parents had married prior
to his father's entrance into the United States Army in 1918. Upon his
return they rented lodgings at 1015 Kaighn Avenue in January of 1920,
before their move to Walnut Street. By 1947 the Johnson family had moved
to 548 York Street in North Camden. Elmer Johnson Sr. by then had a wharf
building business based in Philadelphia. He passed in January of 1952 and
was buried at Beverly National Cemetery, Mrs. Johnson joining him in 1964.
Johnson Jr. served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II,
reaching the rank of Corporal before his term of service ended. He
returned to Camden and in February of 1951 was appointed to the Camden Fire
On Tuesday morning, December 16, 1952, Second District units of
Camden were dispatched to a dwelling fire. Shortly thereafter, another
alarm was received for the Grace Baptist Church at 27th and
Streets, just ore block from the quarters of Engine 9 and
Ladder 3, which was vacated by
the previous alarm. First District units from center city and North
Camden, normally assigned on the second alarm, were now responding first due to
the church. Off duty Fire Dispatcher Rex Hurlock, who resided a few doors
down from the church, saw the heavy smoke and was able to rescue an infirm 76 year-old woman from an adjoining building. First arriving units transmitted the second alarm, and Chief
Pfefferle shortly there after, a third alarm. South
Camden units from the 3rd District responded on the second alarm, while the origins units from
East Camden that were becoming available from the dwelling
fire responded on the third. The blaze originated in the basement and extends upward through interior walls, venting out the roof. In the early stages of
the fire, an inside odor of illuminating gas was detected and companies
were withdrawn from the interior as the gas company was summoned to shut off the gas service at the street. At the height of the blaze, huge pieces of razor
sharp roof slate rained down, endangering firemen. The fire destroyed most of
the building including a six thousand dollar pipe organ. Estimated damage was $75,000. The church had over 600 members. The original church erected
in 1890, was destroyed by fire in 1904. A new edifice completed in 1906
was also destroyed by yet another blaze in 1913. Firemen Elmer Johnson and
John McKay were injured at the latest incident.
Elmer Johnson Jr.
to Concetta M. Giorgione. The Johnsons had three children. The Johnsons
lived at 216 Pearl Street in October of 1956. By 1959 they had moved to
108 North 34th
Street in East Camden.
The 1970 New Jersey bell telephone Directory shows Elmer Johnson Jr. at
Avenue, then known as the Ferry Station Apartments.
served for over 23 years, Elmer Johnson retired from the Camden Fire
Department on July 1, 1974.
By 1977 Elmer and
Concetta Johnson had moved to Gloucester Township. Elmer C. Johnson Jr.
passed away on October 4, 2007.