Laurence
W.
Newton


 

LAURENCE W. NEWTON was born in what was then Stockton Township, New Jersey during the month of April, 1896 to Charles B. and Emma Newton. Stockton Township, which comprised present-day East Camden and Cramer Hill, was united with Camden in 1899, and the street on which the Newton family lived, Sherman Avenue lay in Cramer Hill. Charles Newton  had been living in Stockton Township as far back as 1870, had been living in the neighborhood as far back as 1887, and in the home, 2833 Sherman Avenue, as early as 1890. When the census was taken in 1900 the Newton family, which then included older brother Harry Newton and sisters Gertrude and Mary Newton, made their home at 2833 Sherman Avenue in Cramer Hill. Charles B. Newton had worked as a carpenter, then worked as a car builder, and would later be employed as a teamster. There was another Newton sibling then not living at home.

Laurence W. Newton does not appear in the 1914 Camden City Directory, however, by 1917, when he registered for the draft, he had found work as a teamster at the Gately & Hurley Department Store at Broadway and Pine Streets. He was then married and residing with his wife Edith at 2816 Howell Street in East Camden, just across the tracks from his parents home on Sherman Avenue.

By 1924 Laurence and Edith Newton had moved to 2833 Sherman Avenue, the home of his parents. By this time he was working as a member of the Camden Fire Department. The 1929 Camden City Directory shows that they had moved to 927 Beideman Avenue in Cramer Hill, and that Edith Newton was also working as a clerk at the Stockton Coal Company at North 27th and Pleasant Streets in East Camden. The 1930 Census shows that this was still the case in April of that year, and that their son, Joseph, then 14, was still living at home.

Laurence Newton rose through the ranks of the Camden Fire Department and by the early 1940s was serving as a Battalion Chief, based out of the Engine Company 3 firehouse at 1813 Broadway. By 1942 the family had moved back to 2833 Sherman Avenue in Cramer Hill. 

On Saturday, November 22nd, an elderly woman burned to death in a hot, vicious fire at Front and Danenhower Streets, North Camden; and on Thanksgiving Day, November 25th, a spectacular third alarm destroyed the Adams Furniture Warehouse at Locust Street and Kaighn Avenue, South Camden. At 3:45 A.M. a milkman discovered the fire and flagged down a passing police car who sounded the alarm. 3rd Battalion Chief Laurence Newton as the first arriving unit, found heavy fire gaining headway in the building and quickly transmitted a second alarm. Chief of Department Lennox would transmit a third alarm and while the warehouse was heavily damaged, firemen prevented the blaze from extending to nearby dwellings.  

Fear of enemy air raids in 1942 spawned a number of Federal Decrees regulating public conduct in the event of air raid warnings. One new Federal Regulation prohibited fire apparatus from using sirens in response to alarms. Under war-time regulations, sirens would be reserved exclusively for air raid warnings.

The use of audible warning devices by fire apparatus was restricted to bells only. The burden to both fire fighters and the public safety was formidable. On March 1, 1942, the inevitable happened. Engine Company 8 while responding to an alarm was involved in a collision with a ten ton truck at Third Street and Kaighn Avenue. Upon impact all of the firemen were thrown into the street. The truck driver declared that he failed to hear the bells of the approaching apparatus. The mishap resulted in injuries to six members and total destruction of the apparatus. Captain Alvin Thompson was listed in critical condition, while Firemen Mitchell Wojtkowiak, Philip Farrow, Leonard Oshushek, Lawrence Boulton and Edwin Robbins were admitted for lesser injuries. Battalion Chief Newton stated that he believed the accident might have been avoided if fire companies were not prohibited from using sirens. 

The headlines of the Courier Post for March 24, 1942, read "Six Flee As Heroic Fire Chief Shuts Gas Off Amid Flames". A second alarm for Constitution and Argus Roads, Fairview, was transmitted for a fire in two dwellings. Chief Lawrence Newton of the 3rd Battalion was credited with preventing a potential "conflagration" when he dashed into a burning building and turned off a leaking gas pipe that was feeding the flames. This action of course, by Department standards was little more than routine, but to the media and citizens at the scene of the fire, Chief Newton was deserving of remarkable praise.

On the morning of February 8th, the dispatcher struck the Box for a reported building at Sixth and Van Hook Streets, South Camden. Arriving first due, 3rd Battalion Chief Lawrence Newton was greeted in the street by a hysterical woman screaming that her baby was trapped on the second floor. The Chief bounded into the building and made his way up the smoke filled stairway. He pushed into a rear bedroom off the stairs and found the child in its crib, the adjoining bed ablaze with fire lapping up the walls. Chief Newton carried the boy to safety just as the first due engine was arriving. 3rd Battalion Aide, Fireman Anthony Valentine, placed the child in the chief s car and rushed him to West Jersey Hospital where he was treated for bums and serious smoke inhalation.  

Laurence and Edith Newton and their son Joseph appear in the 1943 Camden City Directory, still residing at 2833 Sherman Avenue. Laurence Newton passed away on June 18, 1946 and was buried at Bethel Cemetery in Pennsauken, New Jersey.

Older brother Harry Newton had a long career with the Camden Police Department


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Camden Courier-Post - February 9, 1933

COPS AND FIREMEN WILL ELECT TODAY
Herbert Bott Is Unopposed for Presidency of Camden Association

The Camden Police and Firemen's Association will hold election of officers today at its headquarters, 1175 Whitman Avenue, from 1:00 PM to 9:00 PM.

Herbert Bott is unopposed for re-election as president. William Thorn is unopposed to replace Richard Middleton for financial secretary and Walter Vecander is unopposed for the new post of assistant financial secretary. All these are police officers.

The police trustees will be named from the following nine candidates: William Marter, George Ward, William Britner, Joseph Shreeve, William Schriber, Joseph Mardino, Joseph Dunnett, Leon Feltz and Russell Young. Two police sergeant-at-arms will be chosen from among Stanley Wirtz, Harry Cattell, Joseph Schultz and George Clayton.

Three candidates are seeking the post of vice president, which goes to a fireman. They are William Spencer, Charles Edwards and Albert Dukes. Warren Rich, a fireman, is slated to succeed himself as recording secretary and Winfield Leviseur is unopposed for the new post of assistant recording secretary, which goes to a fireman.

Four fireman trustees will be chosen from ten candidates. They are Charles Cook, Henry Baumgartel, Walter Eastlack, Arthur Batten, William Getner, William Toy, Lawrence Newton, James Young, Russell Anderson and William Taylor. Three firemen are seeking two posts as sergeants-at-arms. They are William Judge, John Mulligan and Furman Price.


Camden Courier-Post - February 10, 1933

BOTT CHOSEN HEAD OF POLICEMEN, FIREMEN
Spencer Wins 3-Corner Fight for Vice-President of Association

Lauded by the members for his splendid work in behalf of the club, Herbert Bott, a  patrolman attached to the Third Police District, last night was re-elected president of the Camden Police and Firemen's Association.

The praise was heaped upon the patrolman following announcement that he had received 107 of 110 votes cast in yesterday's balloting. He was unopposed for reelection.

In a three-cornered fight, William P. Spencer, a fireman, was elected vice president of the association. He received 73 votes. His opponents were Charles Edwards, given 12 votes, and Albert Dukes, 18 votes. Both are firemen.

Others unopposed for office were: William Thorn, financial secretary; Walter Vecander, assistant financial secretary; Warren Rich, recording secretary, and Winfield Leviseur, assistant recording secretary. The last two are firemen while the first two are policemen.

Lieutenant George Ward, Patrolman William Marter, and Firemen William Taylor, William Getner, James Young and Lawrence Newton were elected to the board of trustees.

Sergeants-at-arms named were Stanley Wirtz and George Clayton, police, and William Judge and John Mulligan, firemen. All had opposition.

After the ballots had been counted William H. Iszard, former assemblyman, appeared on behalf of the Elks Crippled Kiddies Committee, and asked police to support the wrestling show to be staged by that group February 13..


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