THOMAS A SKYMER was born in Italy around 1882. He was brought to America as a baby. At the turn of the century he was living in Pennsylvania, where, in Williamsport, he married on September 11, 1905. His wife Mary bore him three sons, Lewis, Thomas J., and Albert. The 1910 Census shows him living at 1 Charles Street in Loyalsock Township PA, just outside Williamsport. He was then working as a presser in a pants factory.
After the birth of youngest son Albert, the Skymer family moved to Camden in 1912. The Skymers are listed at 6 South 2nd Street in the 1913 and, 1914 Camden City Directories, then at 4 South 2nd Street in the 1915 edition. Thomas A. Skymer worked as a laborer during these years. In 1916 Thomas A. Skymer moved his family to 330 Mickle Street, which had been the home of famous 19th Century architect Stephen Decatur Button, who designed the Richard Fetters School and the City Hall that was in use prior to the current one was constructed. This house also was next door to the home of the late poet Walt Whitman at 328 Mickle Street. Thomas Skymer also ventured into business in 1916, operating a jitney service that ran from 9th and State Street in North Camden to the Vine Street Ferry Terminal. In 1919 he founded Skymer & Sons Auto Supplies. The 1920 census reveals that at that point Thomas A. Skymer was still involved in the jitney business. By 1922 Thomas A. Skymer had acquired the building at 1309 Broadway, where he also conducted his auto supply business, which evolved into Skymer Tire Service. The family lived at the Broadway address as well, in quarters above the store. The 1930 Census shows the family at 1309 Broadway, listing sons Louis "Lew" Skymer's occupation as machinist, while brother Thomas J. "Tommy" Skymer was a painter for a sign company. Albert was also doing work.
During the 1920s sons Lew Skymer and Tommy Skymer both took up boxing. The two were talented boxers in the Camden area Golden Gloves amateur circuit in the 1920s and 1930s, the same circuit that had sent Camden boxer Leon Lucas to the Olympics in 1928. Lew Skymer turned professional in the 1920s but was forced to retire due to a detached retina. Tommy Skymer went 22-1 as an amateur before turning professional in the 1930s.
Thomas A. Skymer retired from his business in 1941. By 1947 he and wife Mary were living at 1504 South 9th Street. Lew Skymer kept the business going into the 1960s. Tommy Skymer established a hair salon at 521 Cooper Street in Camden, moved briefly to Lake Worth FL before returning to New Jersey where he established the Merchantville Farmer Market in the 1950s. After the Market burned down in 1965, his wife Josephine Skymer established a successful lighting business on Route 130 South in Pennsauken NJ.
Thomas A. and Mary Skymer had been raised and were married as Catholics. Youngest son Albert at one point became quite ill, recovering only after the family became involved with the Pentecostal Church. Around 1925 Thomas A. Skymer became a deacon in the First Italian Pentecostal Church. This congregation acquired the South Camden Trust building at Broadway and Ferry Avenue after the bank closed, and used it as a church into the 1950s. Son Albert D. Skymer later became a minister in the church.
On September 11, 1955 Thomas A. and Mary Skymer celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. They were then living at 452 Mechanic Street.
Postcard was published within 15 years of his passing, and is most contemporary picture I've seen to date of the house as it would have looked during the poet's lifetime
Italian Pentecostal Church
At 1800 Broadway, this building was erected as the South Camden Trust Bank Building. After the bank closed, this became the home for many years of the First Italian Pentecostal Church.
Click on Image to Enlarge
Thanks to Jo Ann Skymer Hirsch for her help in creating this page, and for providing images seen here.
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