Steward
D.
Bakley


 

STEWARD D. BAKLEY was appointed to the Camden Fire Department in January, 1889 as a ladderman with the Hook & Ladder Company. He was still active with the Fire Department as late as January of 1920. 
  

Steward Bakley was born in October of 1863 in New Jersey to Christopher and Maria Bakley. He was the eighth of eleven children in the family when the census was taken in 1870, coming after Susan, Savina, James Ellen, Harriet, Christopher Jr., and Samuel Bakley, and before Laura, Margaret "Maggie", and Harry Bakley. Christopher Bakley worked as a laborer to support his family. The Bakley family was then living in Gloucester City, New Jersey. They lived next door to Ferdinand McWilliams, a veteran of the Civil War. By 1878 the family had moved to North Camden, settling in on North 9th Street, above State Street. The houses were numbered differently at the time. City Directories and the 1880 Census give the family's address as 9 North 9th Street. The census indicates that it was near the corner of North 9th Street and York Streets.

Steward Bakley appears in the 1882-1883 and 1883-1884 at 3 South 15th Street. By 1885 he had moved back in with his family at 909 North 9th Street. A number of the family had found work with the nearby Camden Woolen Mills. Christopher Bakley Sr. and Stewart Bakley worked as carders, while Laura and Maggie Bakley worked as weavers. Brother Samuel Bakley was also living there, but his occupation was not listed in the Directory.

The 1887 City Directory shows that Samuel Bakley had been appointed to the Camden Police Department. As stated above, Steward D. Bakley joined the Fire Department in 1889. He was living at 909 North 9th Street as late as 1893. The 1894-1895 City Directory shows that he had moved to 904 York Street. He moved to 913 York Street in late 1895, and stayed there into 1899.

The 1900 Census shows that Steward Bakley had moved back to the house at 909 North 9th Street. Still a bachelor, he married in 1905. The 1906 City Directory shows that he and wife Clara lived at 629 North 8th Street. When the Census was taken in 1910, Steward and Clara Bakley were living at 619 Elm Street. By 1912 they had moved to 828 North 8th Street, where they remained through 1920. 

Steward Bakley fought many fires during his career as a Camden firefighter. Camden Fire Department historian Lee Ryan wrote about one in the 125th anniversary book, published in 1994:

Something akin to a miracle occurred on the frigid night of January 11,1916 at the State Street Methodist Episcopal Church, Sixth and State Streets, North Camden. At 10 P.M., three alarms were transmitted in rapid succession for a serious fire involving the main auditorium of the church. Heavy fire conditions extended to destroy the roof, the organ loft, the altar, Sunday School classrooms, and the entire pew area throughout the auditorium. When the blaze was finally extinguished, all that remained standing were four granite walls. On the south side of the building along State Street, was a magnificent stained glass window of gigantic proportion depicting Christ breaking bread with Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus. The window had inexplicably withstood the flames and heat. The scene from the life of Christ was not blistered, scorched or marred in anyway. It has never been retouched and still stands as a miracle, surviving one of the most disastrous church fires in City history. Chief of Department Peter Carter was injured at this incident when he fell through a passageway between the auditorium and the school building. He was hospitalized for several weeks. Captain Joseph Maxwell and Fireman Steward Bakley of Hook & Ladder Company 1, Fireman John Hunt of Engine Company 3, and Fireman William McCauley of Chemical Company 1 were injured when the church roof collapsed on them. Under heavy smoke conditions and following some difficulty, the members were able to extricate themselves, three of them safely. Captain Maxwell was admitted to the hospital for a brief stay. . 

Steward and Clara Bakley moved to Pennsauken, New Jersey in the 1920s. He was living at 6016 Camden Avenue when the Census was taken in 1930. Although 66 years old, Steward Bakley was still working for the Fire Department. Mandatory retirement at 65 did not go into effect until 1950. He was still living at the Camden Avenue address when the 1940 Camden City Directory was compiled.

Steward Bakley's brother Samuel served for many years as a Camden Police officer, retiring at the rank of sergeant. Steward Bakley most likely was related to Camden Fire Department member David Bakley and his brother Ralph Bakley, who was Acting Chief of Police in Camden from September of 1939 to March of 1942, but this has not been verified to date. 


Illinois Republican
June 3, 1901

 


Philadelphia Inquirer - January 25, 1905


Philadelphia Inquirer - November 8, 1906


Hook & Ladder Company No.1
with new 1914 American LaFrance 75', 4 cyliner aerial ladder, in front of Fire Headquarters

From Left: tillerman Bill Tatem, firemen Edward Finley, Charles Gladney, and Harry Green, Lt. Harry Anderson,
Firemen
George Hollins and Steward Bakley, Captain Joseph Maxwell, and driver Harry Burroughs



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