Frank J. Hartmann Sr.



Photo by George Wonfor

FRANK JACOB HARTMANN SR. was born in Germany in 1853. He came to America with his parents, Mr. & Mrs. Jacob Hartmann, at the age of 12. By the time of the 1870 Census Frank Hartmann was working as a cigarmaker.

Frank J. Hartmann Sr. appears in the 1880 census living in Philadelphia. He was already following the cigarmakers trade. By this time he had married, and with wife Elzbeth had three children- Willie, Robert, and Elzbeth. The Hartmann family lived at 1215 Clover Street in Philadelphia, the home of Raphael and Flora Perez, who were both natives of Cuba. Raphael Perez, a cigar maker by trade, at this time was 18 years Hartmann's senior and appears to have been his employer, or a the very least one who showed him the ins and outs if the cigar manufacturing business.

By 1887 Frank Hartmann Sr had moved his family to New Jersey, in what was then Stockton Township, present-day Cramer Hill. He made his home at 2829 Cleveland Avenue near Griffee Avenue (now known as 28th Street). He may also have been associated at this time with cigar manufacturer Abner Benjamin Sparks Sr., who had a business at 302-304 Arch Street in Camden.

Frank Hartmann Sr. prospered in the cigar business. He appears to have bought the Sparks business, and eventually had a building erected at 3rd and Arch Street in Camden, where he operated his business for many years. His cigars were sold under the trade name of "SPARK CIGARS", which seems to indicate a successorship to Abner Sparks' business. Frank Hartmann Sr. was an ardent supporter of the worker's right to form unions. This building was the first in Camden to be erected with all-union labor. Frank Hartmann Sr. made his building available to union organizers such as Peter McGuire to hold meetings their in the movement's early days. As evidenced by the May 19, 1964 news article below, his importance to the labor movement in Camden and nationally cannot be understated.

It appears that Frank Hartmann's first wife passed in the 1890s. He remarried around 1896. His second wife was named Mary Louise. A son was born of this marriage, Frank J. Hartmann Jr., in 1898. By 1910 the Hartmann's had purchased a home at 740 State Street in North Camden. Apparently he became a widower again in the 1920s. By April of 1930 Frank Hartmann Sr. and his third wife, Anna, had moved to 710 Grant Avenue in Collingswood NJ.

Active in community affairs, he was a member of the Elks, the German Mannerchor in Cramer Hill, and was a charter member of the Camden Rotary Club. In December of 1891 he was the founding president and chief of the North Cramer Hill Citizens Fire Company, which served the neighborhood prior to its incorporation into the City of Camden. This organization soon renamed itself Citizens Fire Company No. 1. The founding vice-president of the Company was Ferdinand F. Sell, who would later go onto a long career with the Camden Police Department. 

Frank Hartmann's son Robert Hartmann was the first president of the Camden's Central Labor Union. Son Joseph S. Hartmann followed his father into the cigar business, while another son, Frank J. Hartmann Jr. (1898-1987) was active in Camden politics in the 1930s, served on the City Commission and was Director of Public Works. Frank Hartmann Jr.'s son,  Frank J. Hartmann III, was killed in action while serving with the Army in France on July 18, 1944. 

Great Grandson Joseph Hartmann served as the Mayor of Gibbsboro NJ. Great-great-grandson Ed Hartmann has had a long career as a volunteer firefighter and founded Mutual Aid Curricular Services, a company which provides training and documentation services to community based volunteer fire departments.


The Hartmann Family
in front of 2829 Cleveland Avenue
About 1900
Click on Image to Enlarge

The Hartmann Family
in front of 2829 Cleveland Avenue
About 1900
Click on Image to Enlarge

Philadelphia Inquirer
December 21, 1895

Citizens Fire Company No. 1

William Penn
Hook & Ladder Company No. 1


Frank J. Hartmann Sr.
H.B. Schlam - D.J. Whelan
Walter Sellard - Richad Law
August Goeble - O.E. Schmid

George Williams - Alexander Dick
Charles Oehler - Louis Beiser
F.A. Buren - B.C. Cholister
G.A. Williams - Oscar Lane

Click on Image for PDF File


Frank J. Hartmann Sr.'s Fire Department Badges

Frank Hartmann's hat badge from the Citizens Fire Company No. 1. Note that it indicates the Town of Stockton.

Frank Hartmann's breast badge from the Citizens Fire Company No. 1. This badge was  issued before Stockton was merged with Camden. Note the "C.H. (Cramer Hill) & V. N.J."


SPARK CIGAR FACTORY
F. Hartmann & Son
Click on Image to Enlarge

Philadelphia Inquirer - July 5, 1912
Elks - Moose - Owls - Eagles - Tall Cedars of Lebanon
State Street - Alan Jarvis - William Jann

CAMDEN FIRST - 1925
Camden Chamber of Commerce

SPARK CIGAR FACTORY
F. Hartmann & Son
Click on Image to Enlarge

Cropped from the photo above, it appears to be Frank J. Hartmann Sr. standing in the doorway of his cigar shop. The company truck is parked outside. Phot0 dates from the 1920s or early 1920s.

 

Click on Image to Enlarge

Camden Courier-Post * June 16, 1932

Camden Courier-Post * November 6, 1944


Camden Courier-Post * May 19, 1964

McGuire, Hartmann Among The Early Organizers of Labor in City

 Camden enjoys a special place in the nation's labor movement. Yet, surprisingly, much of the history of the movement is un­written and rests in the minds and memories of its former leaders. 

Peter J. McGuire is the man most remembered for his work in bringing the labor movement to its current state of organization and as the founder of Labor Day. 

But there were others, such as Robert Hartmann, Timothy Desmond, Walter McDougall, William Harvey, Thomas Gilligan, Joseph Graw, Rubin Price, Jim Reeves, Dick Mustard, Andrew McGuire, Charles Hollopeter, William Dobbins, John Doran and Spencer Huntley.

Began in 1890

The move to bring the labor movement together began in about 1890 and centered around the strong father and son relationship of Frank and Robert Hartmann and the cigarmakers. Strangely enough, this union, which is given credit by veteran labor leaders for cementing the workingman's crusade into a unified force, no longer exists in Camden.  

The first organized local was number 203, a splinter group from the old Knights of Labor in Philadelphia. The cigarmakers were followed by the carpenters, bricklayers, painters, hodcarriers, pottery workers, linemen and typographers. 

The Typographical Union, Local 132, is believed to be the oldest local inexistence In Camden. The local's records show it was chartered in 1887 and incorporated nine years later in 1896. 

One of the very early organizers was Robert Hartmann, who is now 89 years old and lives at 1016 Collings Avenue, West Collingswood.  

The movement had its birth in the Hartmann Cigar factory, 3rd and Arch Streets. The plant was the first built in the city with all union labor and the first to be completely organized, a fact which industry and management bitterly resented. 

Hostility High

 Hostility toward those involved 65 years ago ran at a high pitch and owners of halls and meeting places refused to rent their facilities for union meetings.  

 Consequently meetings were held at the Hartmann factory and the owner- the late Frank Hartmann, whose son was elected the first president of the cigarmakers local- is looked on today as one of the benefactors of organized labor in Camden.  

The senior Hartmann, who lived in the 700 block of State Street and the 2800 block of Cleveland Avenue, was considered a dangerous liberal because he believed in the idea of collective bargaining, an unheard-of idea in his day.  

Place to Meet  

The Hartmann factory not only became the headquarters for the labor movement, but it also pro­vided a place where the controversial men, of the day came to speak their piece on the working­man's problems.  

And the problems were many. Wages were low-40 cents an hour for carpenters-30 cents for common laborers - child labor and long hours.  

Labor took its first real step in 1908 when the Camden County Central Labor Union was created and Hartmann was elected its first president. The creation of the Central Labor Union brought together all the various small locals which were being organized by the trades in the early years.  

According to the charter, the Central Labor Union was formed "to better conditions for the working man and to fight for human betterment."

 Worked at 11 

It was during the formative days of the Central Labor Union that Peter J. McGuire's talents, came to the attention of unionists.  

McGuire became a wage earner at 11 when he hawked newspapers on the streets of New York, ran errands, shined shoes, and attended the Cooper Union School for the underprivileged. It was here in about 1860 that he met Samuel Gompers, co-founder of the American Federation of Labor.  

The two were to go different ways, but reaching the same goals. Unfortunately for the nation, McGuire saved nothing from the thousands of letters, platforms and manifestos that he wrote during his career.

 Labor Day Born  

At age 20, McGuire was dedicated to revolution by labor as the first step to its betterment, and was beating the drum for political action, immediate and organized.  

Labor Day was born, unofficially, on May 8, 1882, in New York City, when McGuire proposed the idea at a meeting of the Central Labor Union in Clarendon Hall on 13th Street.

 The workingman "took" the first Labor Day on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 1882, and organized labor marched with bands and banners, up Broadway to Union Square. 

The first Labor Day celebration was to set the pattern for Labor Days to follow.  

To Camden in 1885

 After McGuire founded the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, he moved from Chicago to Philadelphia where he eventually moved to Camden. The year was 1885.  

At the turn of the century, McGuire was earning $2,000 annually as secretary of the Brotherhood. His hair had turned snow white. 

It was during these first years that Camden got to know McGuire. The association was short-lived for he died February 18, 1906, at the age of 54, a broken man and in want.       

One of his final acts was to pen a note to a friend. It said: "I'm very tired of it all and of late, in looking my past in the face, I wonder if the game was worth the poor candle, the more so when I see the ingratitude of those who benefited by our labors."  

Today organized labor tries to forgive itself for the "ingratitude" by holding memorial services in Pennsauken's Arlington Cemetery in honor of McGuire, the father of Labor Day.

 Faced Same Problems  

Early unionists in Camden faced the same problems that labor faced throughout the country at the turn of the century. Among them were an eight hour day arid a workmen's pension based on contributions from both employer and employee.  

These problems were discussed at meetings held in the old Temple Theater, 4th and Market Streets, now the site of the Camden Post Office and in the Towers Theater, at Broadway  and Pine Street.  It is recalled that Spencer Huntley organized the hodcarriers to fight for a 10-cent an hour in crease after the price of pork chops went up three cents a pound. 

Camden celebrated its first Labor Day in 1908 with a parade that had its start on Cooper Street. About 200 unionists, dressed in their working clothes, marched down Cooper, Market, Broadway, and 5th Streets and then on to Stockton Park {home of the Stockton Rifles- PMC}  at 20th and Federal Streets, where they gathered for rousing speeches and a picnic.

 Wore Top Hat

 Leading the paraders was Robert Hartmann, dressed in a high top hat, and riding a white horse borrowed from Schroeder's Funeral Home, located at that time at 4th and Arch Streets. 

In the early 1900s, organized labor was looked on as a militant group, led by men with radical ideas, who were spreading revolution and who if successful, would lead the nation to destruction. Labor met on Sunday nights in the old Towers Theater, because it was the only day of the week the workingman had to himself. It was the only way union leaders could be sure of a full house. 

It was on one of these occasions that Frank Morrison, then secretary of the budding AFL, addressed Camden unionists and voiced labor's disapproval of America's intervention in World War I.

There were other subjects discussed in the Towers Theater, subjects closer to home for the workingman .... education, public housing, slum clearance, equal wages and fair employment opportunities ... subjects still being talked about today.

 Promise Kept

 It was not until 1935, when Congress passed the Wagner Act, that organized labor began to take on significance. Two years later another "big jump" was taken.

 During World War II, Camden enjoyed a period of labor peace. Labor had promised the nation it would not strike during the war and in Camden that promise was kept.

 And organized labor got its feet wet in the political arena when it began to lobby for compulsory education by packing the legislative gallery in Trenton.

Up to now, labor had followed McGuire's theory ... "support politically your friends, defeat your enemies, regardless of political affiliations."

Giants Merge

 On April 28, 1961, the Central Labor Union and the Industrial Union Council, a CIO organization, merged. New Jersey was to be the last state in the union to complete the merger of the two giants, the AFL and the CIO. Locally. 85 unions with more than 75,000 members, overnight became members of one organization.

 Today, according to Central Labor Union president Joseph J. McComb, labor faces as many problems as it did 50 years ago. The only difference is the type of problem.

 Today labor is faced with industrial automation, changing work assignments, reduced work weeks and wages.

 But today labor has also become big business. It operates rich health and welfare funds; sponsors entire towns for its retired members; educates its children and takes care of its social problems.

 Its officials are successful candidates for public office, sit on boards of community organizations, and run fund drives. It has become a potent force for the good of the entire community.


Camden Courier-Post

August 2, 1935

Frank Hartman Jr.,
with wife and son, Frank Hartmann III

Click on Image to Enlarge

 


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