Walter
A.
Mertz


WALTER ALVIN MERTZ was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 30, 1877. He appears to been either the son or nephew of Jonas Mertz, a barber, who was living in Lambertville, New Jersey when the 1880 Census was enumerated, and who relocated to Camden shortly thereafter. Jonas Mertz lived at 530 Cedar Street in 1881, and from 1884 through 1888 was at 278 Sycamore Street. 

Walter Mertz first appears in Camden's City Directories in the 1890-1891 edition. He was working as a mill hand and living at 267 Kaighn Avenue, the same address as Jonas Mertz. Walter Merttz lived with Jonas Mertz at this address through 1892. It appears that Jonas Mertz moved to Philadelphia shortly after the 1892-1893 City Directory was published. By 1894 Walter Mertz had begun boarding at 1134 South 2nd Street and had begun working as a carpenter. Walter Mertz was still living at 1134 South 2nd Street and was working as a carpenter when the 1906 City Directory was compiled.

Walter Mertz married Sarah Stineford around 1905. She bore a daughter, Helen L. Mertz, in 1907. Around this time, Sarah's brother, George Henry Stineford Jr., was appointed to the Camden Fire Department.

When the Census was taken in April of 1910, the Mertz family was living at 272 Chestnut Street. Walter Mertz was then employed as a frame maker and as a windows sash maker. He was appointed to the Camden Fire Department on October 1, 1911. Soon proving his mettle and ability, Walter Mertz was promoted to Lieutenant in July of 1915 and to Captain in March of 1918. 

When he registered for the draft in September of 1918, Walter Mertz was still living in the rented home at 272  Chestnut Street in South Camden with his wife Sarah and daughter Helen. The family was still at that address when the Census was taken in January of 1920. By the time the 1924 Camden City Directory was compiled, they had moved to 3016 North Constitution Road in the then new Yorkship Square neighborhood.

Walter Mertz commanded Engine Company 1 at 409 Pine Street during the 1920s and into the early 1930s. On September 14, 1932 he was promoted to Battalion Chief. Two years later he was again raised in rank, this time to Deputy Chief of the Camden Fire Department.

At 9:30 P.M. on Monday, March 25, 1937, a second alarm
was transmitted for Box 34 at Broadway and Kaighn Avenue, South Camden for a basement fire in a shoe store that extended to the loft above. Deputy Chief Mertz was seriously injured in a twenty foot fall from a roof of an exposure under heavy smoke conditions. He sustained a broken back with some partial paralysis, but was able in time to return to duty.

On March 2, 1941 at 9:30 P.M., Deputy Chief Mertz transmitted a second alarm for a heavily involved frame dwelling at Clinton and Henry Streets, South Camden, when fire communicated to the roof of the adjoining Camden Chemical Company. This extension was quickly extinguished.  

On January 12, 1943 the Camden Fire Department answered twenty alarms in a twenty-four hour period. Deputy Chief Mertz stated that it was the busiest 24 hour period in recent history. There were one hundred alarms in the City during the first ten days of the new' year while the monthly average was usually 112 alarms. The following day on January 13th, another second alarm at the Cooper School, Third and Linden Streets, would heavily damage the 71 year-old structure and leave 500 students without classrooms. The building was erected in 1871 and condemned as a fire trap in 1940. The property was subsequently modernized in 1942 under W.P.A. Yet another second alarm for a school occurred on January 22nd at the Stevens Public School, Fourth and Berkley Streets, South Camden. The blaze broke out in a basement storage room shortly after 9 A.M. The building erected in 1867 sustained moderate damage. 

In February of 1947, Chief of Department John H. Lennox passed away at the age of 66 following a long illness. As the last Chief Engineer from the horse drawn era, the death of Chappie Lennox would close a glorious chapter in the history of the Department. Deputy Chief Walter Mertz would be appointed interim chief, a position he would hold in an acting capacity until 1950. A similar situation happened in the Camden Police Department, where Samuel E. Johnson served as an interim Chief for two years before a permanent chief, Gustav Koerner, took over in December of 1949.

On March 30, 1947 eight people were burned to death at the home of Andrew W. Johnson, 217 Sycamore Street. Four other homes were damaged in this fire.

In his budget address before City Council on January 9, 1948, Commissioner David S. Rhone testified that "the Department is so undermanned that when a member reports off duty on sick leave, some fire companies do not have sufficient manpower to operate the apparatus and have to borrow men from other firehouses. We must correct this condition".

On January 10th, the City authorized a $1.5 million dollar fiscal appropriation. On the same day firemen rescued four youths stranded for several hours on a raft in the Delaware River. One boy had fallen into the icy water but was pulled to safety by his companions. In a remote area of Cramer Hill, other boys on shore set a grass fire at 36th Street and Farragut Avenue to attract help. The plan worked and responding firemen rescued the boys who were removed to the hospital for exposure.

On January 12, 1948, Firemen Elwood Menzies of Engine Company 8 died in the line of duty during a working fire at 713 Blaine Street, South Camden. Firemen Menzies was connecting a hose line to the apparatus when he collapsed in the street. He was 51 years of age and had more than 25 years of service.

In 1949, the City awarded a contract to American La France Fire Equipment of Elmira, New York for delivery of the first new pumper in over twenty years. This new, cab forward design, was affectionately referred to by some firemen as bathtubs because of the vehicle's low profile sides and the manner in which fire fighters sat in individual jump seats, facing rearward. Between 1950 and 1960,an entire fleet of these apparatus would eventually replace the City's 1920 and 1930 vintage pumpers. These new pumpers would also be equipped with Hardie Guns as new, state-of-the-art, high pressure booster nozzles that provided straight, spray and fog stream patterns. 

Chief Mertz announced his plans to retire in 1949, and left the Camden Fire Department on January 15, 1950. He was succeeded by William Van Pfefferle.

The Mertz family had left Camden by the time the 1956 New Jersey Bell Telephone Directory was compiled.


Philadelphia Inquirer
July 30, 1915

John Stockton - Peter B. Carter
Thomas J. Nicholas - William Patterson
Charles Cook - Walter Mertz
William Casson - Robert Whitley
T.G. Middleton -
John H. Lennox
John A.S. Hunt -  George Cattell
Engine Company 3 - Engine Company 4
Walter W. Johnson - Walter W. Lee
Clarence Baler -
Walter Wolverton

Albert Denise - William Barr - Bowman H. Shivers
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Philadelphia Inquirer - March 23, 1918

Peter B. Carter - Harry B. Maxwell - Allen Palmer - Louis Neumann - George H. Pursglove
Roy DeHaven - Julius Herbert - Harry W. Stone - Joseph Sparks - Robert Knox - Clarence Pursglove
Anthony Paradise - Robert Welsh - Walter Mertz - Horace Cairns - Samuel Whitzell


World War I Draft Card
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Philadelphia Imquirer - June 27, 1920

...continued...

Walter Mertz - Rollo Jones - David Baird Robinson - Winston Pickle - Mrs. Anna Mosley
William E. Curtis - E.F. Crane - B.E. Lane - William Carey - J.W. Young
Larch Street - Vine Street - Engine Company 1 - Engine Company 6


Bridgeton Evening News
June 13, 1922

Peter B. Carter
Walter Mertz
Rollo Jones

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Camden Courier-Post - January 11, 1938

John Lennox - Marshall Thompson - Leonard Megee - Walter Mertz
Rocco Fanelle - George W. Jackson - Cherry Street


Camden Courier-Post - August 26, 1941

Henry Magin Laid to Rest By War Veteran Buddies
TRUCKS OF FLOWERS IN FUNERAL CORTEGE

Funeral services for City Commissioner Henry Magin were held today with his colleagues in official and veterans circles participating.

Services 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 Church.

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 Rhone 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.  

Three firemen and three policemen maintained a vigil as a guard of honor. They were Patrolmen Jack Kaighn, George Weber, and William Deery and Firemen Arthur Batten, Warner Carter and William Reed.

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 Mertz, assisted the patrolmen in handling the crowd, which at times choked the stairways leading to the second floor.

Freeholders Arrive  

Albert H. Molt, director of the Board of Freeholders and Freeholders John J. Tull, Oscar Moore, Ventorino Francesconi, Stanley Ciechanowski, Earl Armstrong 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 the freeholders.

Employees 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.  

Frank A. Abbott, acting director of the department, accompanied by James P. Carr, superintendent of Streets; led the highway bureau employees. Abbott is deputy director of revenue and finance and first assistant to Mayor Brunner. He was named by Brunner as acting director until the City Commission elects Mr. Magin's successor.

County Clerk Frank J. Suttill, City Clerk Clay W. Reesman, Fire Chief John H. Lennox and James A. Howell, chief of the city electrical bureau, attended, as did Albert Austermuhl, secretary of the board of education. Every city department sent a floral piece.

Outstanding Floral Tribute

Outstanding among the floral tributes was a six-toot broken circle of varied flowers, an offering from Mayor Brunner and Commissioners Kobus, Aaron, andRhone.

A 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 of South Jersey, an organization formed by Commissioner Magin and of which he 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. McCord, city 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.

Sgt. Ray 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.  

Also 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.  


World War II Draft Card
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San Diego Union
San Diego, California
March 31, 1947

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Omaha Morning World-Herald
Omaha, Nebraska
March 31, 1947

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Uniontown Morning Herald - March 31, 1947
Uniontown, Pennsylvania



Camden Courier-Post
November 17, 1949

William Van Pfefferle
Walter Mertz
E. George Aaron
John Lennox

 


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Camden Courier-Post
November 17, 1949

William Van Pfefferle Walter Mertz

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