George
Birch



GEORGE BIRCH was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 10, 1905. His father apparently died or abandoned his mother, Katherine Halligan, an Irish immigrant who could neither read nor write. When he was 10 or 11 years old he suffered a blow to the head which caused him to be deaf. It was not then medically correctable. He subsequently attended the Trenton School for the Deaf.

The 1920 Census shows George Birch living with his mother on Cook's Lane in Brick Township, New Jersey. His mother was working as a domestic at the school George attended.

George Birch came to Camden afterwards, and found employ as a varnisher. The 1924 Camden City Directory shows him living at 305 Warren Avenue, the home of a Mr. Boileau. George Birch and his mother lodged here as late as April of 1930. Soon afterward George Birch went to work as a furniture refinisher for the J.B. Van Sciver Company in Camden. He would remain with Van Sciver's for 29 years. During this time George Birch met a woman who was also deaf, Mary Beatrice Hannigan.

On August 27, 1930 George Birch married Mary Beatrice Hannigan at St. Edmond's Church 21st St. Philadelphia, PA. George and Mary Birch rented on Trenton Avenue in Camden, where there were several other deaf tenants, until 1932, when they moved to Woodlynne. They rented a row home on Cedar Avenue and started a family. The three Birch children did not have difficulty with their hearing. In 1937 the Birch family bought a house at 111 Linden Avenue. 

George Birch's mother passed away in Philadelphia in 1934. During the 1930s and 1940s, George Birch also would work as a bartender at the club rooms of The Silent Club, a social organization for the deaf that was quartered above Skulnick's Jewelry at the corner of Broadway and Washington Street.

After Van Sciver's closed down their refinishing department in 1960, George Birch went to work at the Tiedeken Brothers Body Works. He retired at the age of 65 in 1970. In June of 1975, Mrs. Birch passed away. George Birch was still living at the Linden Avenue address when he died of a massive heart attack at West Jersey Hospital in October of 1975. They are buried at New St. Mary's Cemetery in Bellmawr NJ.


George Birch tending bar at The Silent Club - 1930s-1940s
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George Birch tending bar at The Silent Club - 1930s-1940s
Click on Image to Enlarge


1960s - Tiedeken employees taking a break out front
George Birch, seated, wearing cap.

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