J. Wagner first appears in City Directories in 1897, working as
a blacksmith and living at 843 Bridge
Avenue. He married the former Sue G. Smith in Camden on
August 23, 1897. She had been married to a man named Kinsey, and
had bore a daughter, Ethel Kinsey, in 1892. On March 2, 1898 a
son was born, Phillip Beale Wagner. Sue's father William H.
Smith, had died in 1886 and her mother, Mrs. Harriet Smith, and
enterprising woman with nine mouth to feed and only one adult
son to help, became one of the leading "policy"
writers in Camden's Ninth Ward, "policy" being the
term which is better known in our times as "numbers",
i.e., she conducted an illegal lottery. Mrs. smith served a
short term in state prison in 1895 before being pardoned. She
and at least three of her sons were arrested in 1898 on similar
charges, but nothing appears to have come of that. The future
Mrs. Wagner had also been arrested in the 1890s on
"policy" charges but was never convicted.
1899 City Directory shows Harry J. Wagner living at 767 Carman Street.
When the Census was taken in 1900, the Wagners were living at
Avenue, next door to Mathias and M. Caroline Hess at 815
Bridge Avenue. The two families would live
side by side for over 30 years. Mathias Hess and family had previously
lived at 719 Carman Street
as far back as 1890, this worth noting in that the Wagner family lived out most of
their lives before 1950 on that block.
J. Wagner was appointed to the Camden Fire Department on November 23,
1899. With his wife almost seven months pregnant at the time of his
appointment and two other children already home, he appears to have decided that firefighting was not for
him, and he resigned on January 18, 1900. He stayed active politically
and eventually got a job with
the Water Department, where he and Mathias Hess worked side by side for
February 1, 1900 Sue Smith Wagner gave birth to a son, Harry
Jacobs Wagner Jr.
Harry J. Wagner worked for a time as a shoemaker, then as an
ironworker. City Directories over the years also list him as a
boilermaker, an electrician, an engineer and a pump operator.
the time the 1903 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
Sr.'s brother-in-law Howard
Smith was appointed to the Camden Police Department in 1906.
During the 1910s brother-in-law Walter
Smith became policemen, and brother-in-law Roy A. Smith
joined the Camden Fire Department. Brother-in-law Crawford
Smith was in and out of the newspapers for one thing or
another until his passing in 1941. Of the other two
Smith was killed in an industrial accident in 1907, and
William H. "Harry" Smith worked in Camden and
Philadelphia as a bartender.
the 1910 census was taken, the Harry Wagner family then was still renting a
home at 745 Carman Street.
At that time the family included step-daughter Ethel Kinsey, 17, and
sons Philip B. Wagner, 12; Harry
J. Jr., 10; Roy A.
Wagner, 8 and George
C. Wagner, and Harry Wagner Sr.'s divorced half-brother, Robert B.
Tomlinson, who later took the name Robert Wagner. Next door at 747 Carman Street,
lived Mathias and M. Caroline Hess. Robert B. Tomlinson Jr. boarded with
the Hess family, as did Harry Wagner Sr.'s brother George Wagner. Within
a year the Wagners had moved to 729 Carman Street,
where they stayed into the 1940s.
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,
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 and 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. Harry Wagner Jr.
joined the Camden Fire Department on August 1, 1924. He was
assigned to Engine Company 1, at 409 Pine
Street. He married Ella Jane "Jane" Lehman around
the same time as he began work with the Fire Department.
The 1929 City Directory also shows
that Harry Wagner Jr. 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
Sr. The 1930 Census shows the
Harry Wagner Jr. family at 723
their two children, Harry J. Wagner III and Jane, where they
stayed into the 1960s.
ended in 1933 and seeing the opportunity, Roy A.
Wagner got licensed to operate a bar at 920 Federal
Street in 1934. By 1936 he owned and operated a bar at
Street, which he renamed, appropriately enough, Roy's
Cafe. Having grown up around the corner in the 700 block of Carman Street,
he was well-known in the immediate neighborhood. Brothers
Phillip B. and George
C. Wagner worked there as bartenders. Roy A.
had previously operated a cigar store at 35 Haddon
Avenue. In April of 1954 he was granted place-to-place
transfer of his liquor license and moved the bar to 733 Federal
Street, where it remained in business
into the early 1970s. Youngest brother
Mathias Wagner worked at and eventually managed the Woolworth's store at Broadway and
The 1940 City Directory shows Harry Wagner Sr., still employed by the Camden Water
Department, at 729 Carman Street
worked as a pump operator. Harry Wagner Jr.
and family were still at 723 Carman Street.
G. Smith Wagner died on July 23, 1944 after a lengthy illness,
survived by her husband, sons, and brothers Howard
Smith and Walter
J. Wagner Sr.
appears to have passed way within a few years of his wife's
death. The exact date, as of this writing, is uncertain.
the 1960s and 1970s one "urban renewal" project after another
tore through downtown Camden. Bridge Avenue disappeared entirely. the 700 block of Carman Street
also literally disappeared, the present Police Administration Building, its
parking and impound lots occupying the land where much of Carman Street
once was, and nothing that stood in the 700 and 800 Blocks of
Federal Street in the Wagner's time was left standing.