John
McKay


 

JOHN McKAY was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 22, 1891 to Malcolm and Mary McKay. The family, which included brothers Malcolm, Thomas, and Stanley was living at 362 East Indiana Avenue in Philadelphia when the Census was taken in 1900. By 1910 they had moved to 607 Powell Street in Gloucester City, New Jersey. 

John McKay married around 1916. When he registered for the draft on June 5, 1917, he was living at 828 Grant Street in North Camden with his wife Rachel and son John E. McKay.

The 1918-1919 City Directory and the 1920 Census shows John McKay and family at 843 York Street. he was then working as a tank tester at one of the shipyards located in Camden. He was appointed to the Camden Fire Department on June 16, 1923. He served with Engine Company 2 as a hoseman for over twenty years. 

The 1924 City Directory lists John McKay at 136 York Street. The McKays had moved to 1129 Dupont Street in Cramer Hill by 1927, and had moved to 1045 Lois Avenue by 1929. When the Census was taken in April of 1930 John McKay and his family were still living at 1045 Lois Avenue. Fire Department records from 1931 show him at 348 Hillside Avenue. The 1940 and 1943 City Directories both show the family living at 486 North 35th Street, in a house owned by brother firefighter Clarence McMullen. John McKay was transferred to Engine Company 11 on October 3, 1943. 

By the time the the 1947 Camden City Directory was compiled John McKay and his family had moved to 557 North 34th Street. His son was still living at home, and was working as a mailman. He later moved to 1091 North Common Road in the Fairview section of Camden.

On Tuesday morning, December 16, 1952, Second District units of East Camden were dispatched to a dwelling fire. Shortly thereafter, another alarm was received for the Grace Baptist Church at 27th and Cramer Streets, just ore block from the quarters of Engine 9 and Ladder 3, which was vacated by the previous alarm. First District units from center city and North Camden, normally assigned on the second alarm, were now responding first due to the church. Off duty Fire Dispatcher Rex Hurlock, who resided a few doors down from the church, saw the heavy smoke and was able to rescue an infirm 76 year-old woman from an adjoining building. First arriving units transmitted the second alarm, and Chief William Van Pfefferle shortly there after, a third alarm. South Camden units from the 3rd District responded on the second alarm, while the origins units from East Camden that were becoming available from the dwelling fire responded on the third. The blaze originated in the basement and extends upward through interior walls, venting out the roof. In the early stages of the fire, an inside odor of illuminating gas was detected and companies were withdrawn from the interior as the gas company was summoned to shut off the gas service at the street. At the height of the blaze, huge pieces of razor sharp roof slate rained down, endangering firemen. The fire destroyed most of the building including a six thousand dollar pipe organ. Estimated damage was $75,000. The church had over 600 members. The original church erected in 1890, was destroyed by fire in 1904. A new edifice completed in 1906 was also destroyed by yet another blaze in 1913. Firemen Elmer Johnson and John McKay were injured at the latest incident.

Still on active duty with the Camden Fire Department, John McKay died on February 6, 1953. 


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