Henry
J.
Gerke


 

HENRY JOSEPH GERKE was born March 7, 1878 in Philadelphia PA to Henry and Matilda Gerke, who both were natives of Prussia. The elder Gerke worked as a carpenter, and was almost 50 when Henry was born. When the 1900 Census was taken, he lived with his widowed mother Matilda and sister Bertha at 222 McKean Street in South Philadelphia. He then worked as an express driver.

Henry Gerke moved to Camden shortly after the 1900 census. He married Ida Francis Cox around 1902, and a daughter, Matilda, was born in 1903. When the Census was taken in 1910, he was working as a pressman at the Victor Talking Machine Company factory. At that time the Cox family, consisting of daughters Matilda and Martha, and son Henry Jr., lived at 135 Beckett Street in South Camden.

Henry Gerke became a member of the Camden Fire Department as early as September of 1918, and had by then moved to 619 South 4th Street. His wife's uncle, George P. Cox, was then a battalion chief with the Camden Fire Department. When the 1920 Census was taken, Henry Gerke's father-in-law and mother-in-law were living at that address as well.  Father-in-law Wright Ellis Cox, who had been a Camden fire fighter in the 1890s and early 1900s and a Camden policeman as early as 1910, was then a sergeant with the Camden Police Department, and would remain with the police force through at least 1924. The Gerke family also had another son by then, Wright Ellis Gerke, born in 1919.

Henry J. Gerke moved to 2131 47th Street in Pennsauken shortly after the 1924 Camden City Directory was compiled, and remained there through July of 1942 before moving to Collingswood NJ. His wife, Ida passed in October of 1941. Henry Gerke was still with the Fire Department in 1942.

Henry Gerke's oldest daughter, Matilda, married Edward R. MacDowell, a member of the Camden Fire Department. He served as Chief of Department from 1959 until his retirement in 1965. Matilda MacDowell passed away on November 19, 2004.  

Henry Gerke's son, Second Lieutenant Wright E. Gerke, was killed in action over Germany in August of 1943. Henry Gerke was still working with the Camden Fire Department as late as the spring of 1942. He died on April 15, 1945.


Philadelphia Inquirer - December 6, 1917


World War I Draft Card

World War II Draft Card

Gerke Family Plot at Bethel Cemetery, Pennsauken, New Jersey

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