DR. JOHN WASHINGTON DONGES was born at Stouchburg, Berks County PA, September 18, 1844. to Irish immigrant parents. At 14 he took a job in a pharmacy. Enlisting in the Army at the outbreak of the Civil War, he was seriously wounded at Fredericksburg in December of 1862, and sent home. Returning to the study of medicine, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. He practiced medicine in Donaldson PA for nine years before coming to Camden in 1875, opening up a pharmacy at 1801 Broadway, the corner of Broadway and Ferry Avenue. This building at is still standing, although vacant, in July of 2003. He employed Francis J. Bicker Sr. as a pharmacist until Bicker received his M.D. from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He subsequently employed Grant Elmer Kirk in a similar capacity. Dr. Donges and his family were still living there as of 1891. By the time the 1897 edition of the Biographical Review was published, Dr. Donges had moved to 525 Broadway, and Dr. Grant Elmer Kirk, who had married daughter Miriam Donges, was practicing at 1801 Broadway. He later moved to a fine house at 805 Cooper Street, where they remained through at least 1920.
A Democrat, he served as a City Councilman for six years from the Eighth Ward, and was President of City Council in 1883.
In 1879, Camden was struck with an outbreak of smallpox. Dr. Donges worked tirelessly to treat the sick and contain the outbreak. His work was recognized in a series of City Council resolutions printed below. Dr. Donges practiced medicine in Camden until 1899, when he retired to pursue other interests.
Of his children, Clarence Donges was, like his father, a prominent physician in Camden for many years. Ralph Waldo Emerson Donges studied law under Judge John W. Wescott and had a distinguished career as a jurist in New Jersey, including many years as a justice on the State Supreme Court. Raymond R. Donges also was a well known lawyer in Camden.
Dr. Donges served on the Board of Directors of Camden National Bank as late as 1916. He was a member of many professional, fraternal, and civic organizations, including the Thomas M.K. Lee Post No. 5, Grand Army of the Republic; the Odd fellows, and the Masons.
Rose Donges passed away on January 26, 1911 and was buried at Harleigh Cemetery in Camden. By 1919 he had remarried. At the time of 1920 census, Dr. Donges, then 75, and his second wife, Adelaide (Ada), were living at 805 Cooper Street in Camden NJ along with youngest son Ralph W.E. Donges. Ada Donges was active in the Woman's Club of Camden, N.J. The 1930 census reveals that they were living in Miami Beach FL in April of 1930.
Dr. John W. Donges died at the age of 87 on February 5, 1931. He is buried at Harleigh Cemetery in Camden NJ. His wife, Adelaide, passed away in 1948, and was buried with her husband.
Philadelphia Inquirer - April 4, 1877
James A. Armstrong - Dr. William G Taylor
Philadelphia Inquirer - March 16, 1878
Abels - J.
Willard Morgan - A.B.
Cameron - Crawford Miller
Philadelphia Inquirer * February 2, 1883
Josiah Rawlings - John
A. Furey - James Ayres -
Claudius Bradshaw - James M. Cassady - John W. Donges
Josiah D. Rogers - Henry B. Wilson Sr. - Jonathan Burr
Edmund E. Reed - Christopher J. Mines Sr. - William P. Tatem
Jesse E. Hueston - E.E. Reed Jr. - George W. Gilbert - William S. Scull
William W. Bozarth -John Burr - Charles Wilson - Rudolph W. Birdsell
John W. Wartman - Samuel Hibbs - St. John's Episcopal Church
Broadway Methodist Episcopal Church
Camden Fire Insurance Association
History of Camden County New Jersey
George Reeser Prowell -1886
JOHN W. DONGES, druggist, physician, and surgeon, of Camden, was born at Stouchburg, Berks County PA, September 18, 1844. His father, Jacob Donges, emigrated from Germany shortly after the Revolutionary War, and settled in Berks County. His father, whose name was also Jacob, was married to Sarah Burkholder, and for many years carried on the shoemaking business of Stouchburg, employing a number of workmen, and also conducting a shoe store.
The childhood and youth of Doctor Donges were spent in the village where he was born. He first attended a private school, taught by his sisters, and afterwards spent about three years as a student in the Stouchburg Academy, then taught by Mr. Thomas S. Searle. At the age of fourteen years he secured a position as clerk in a drug-store at Minersville, Schuylkill County PA.
When seventeen years of age he enlisted in Company H, of the 129th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, in the nine months’ service, and, with his regiment, was assigned to the Army of the Potomac, under General McClellan. His regiment was present at the battle of Antietam only a few weeks after enlistment, but was not drawn actively into the engagement. In the battle of Fredericksburg, in the early part of December 1862, the 129th Regiment was brought into the thickest of the fight, and whilst charging the enemy, Dr. Donges received a dangerous wound by the explosion of a shell, causing a compound fracture of the skull. He was then sent to the hospital for surgical treatment, and, owing to entire disability for further military duty, caused by the wound, was discharged from the service on January 8, 1863.
He soon afterward returned to Minersville, where he resumed his
former occupation in the drug business. While here he began studying
medicine under Dr. Theodore Helwig, a prominent physician of
Minersville. After a year he returned to his home in Stouchburg, and
there continued his studies under Dr. James A. Fisher. In 1864 he
entered the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania, and
was graduated in the class of 1866. In the following August he began the
practice of medicine at Donaldson PA, and continued it uninterruptedly
for nine years, having there acquired a large practice. Ill health,
caused by over-work, induced him to think of discontinuing active
practice and engage in the drug business. In 1875 he purchased the
drug-store, which he has since owned and conducted, at the corner of
Broadway and Ferry Avenue, in Camden, where he now has a large and
Dr. Donges is a member of the Schuylkill County Medical Society,
the Camden City and County Medical Society, the New Jersey State Medical
Society, and the American Medical Association.
In 1878 Dr. Donges was elected a member of the City Council from
the Eighth Ward, which at the general elections (of the time) is
strongly Republican. On this occasion, however, it gave the doctor a
handsome majority as the Democratic candidate, and he served six years
consecutively as a member of Council, and was president of that body
during the year 1883. During the year 1879, when the smallpox prevailed
to an alarming extent in Camden, he was a member of the sanitary
committee. For his efficiency as an executive officer and as attending
physician – free of charge- when the unfortunate people were stricken
with the loathsome disease, the city council unanimously passed the
On December 22, 1866 Dr. Donges was married to Miss Rose Renaud, of
Phildelphia. Dr. and Mrs. Donges have five children,- Miriam E.,
Clarence B., Raymond R., Evelyn L., and Ralph W.E.
|The History of Camden County New Jersey * George Reeser Prowell -1886|
COUNCIL CHAMBER, CITY HALL
At a stated meeting of City Council, held on the above date, it was
That a committee of three be appointed to draft suitable resolutions
conveying the thanks of this body to J.W. Donges M.D., for special
services rendered as a member of the Camden Board Of Health, during the
prevalence of the small-pox in our city in the fall of 1879-80.
The committee reported the following, which was unanimously
Whereas, The citizens of this community, through there
representatives, having expressed an earnest desire that a token of
public appreciation should be extended to J.W. Donges, M.D., for the
fearless and faithful discharge of his duties s a member of the board of
Health, be it therefore
Resolved, That the sincere and heartfelt thanks of this body and
community are hereby extended to J.W. Donges, M.D., member of City
Council from the Eighth Ward and member of the Board of Health, for his
indefatigable, self-sacrificing, and successful efforts to obliterate
the loathsome disease that infested our city.
Resolved, That to his valuable assistance and wise professional
judgement is due the successful efforts of the board in preventing a
wide-spread epidemic, and placing practical safeguards against a
recurrence of the disease for years to come.
Resolved, That his exceptional care and provision for the
comfort of the public patients commands their gratitude in a manner that
word are inadequate to express.
Michellon, President City Council
Alex J. Milliette, H.T. Rose, & T.P. Pfeiffer, Committee
Trenton Evening Times - December 29, 1887
Philadelphia Inquirer - March 14, 1890
J, Oscar Nichuals - Howard Carrow - Jacob Neutze- Dr. William S. Jones
Emil Mettler - Henry Sparrow - Dr. John W. Donges - John Cherry - Lewis McDowell
Samuel Mowery - Scheimer - Kendall - Hatton - Bowden - Cowperthwaite - Kellum - Cleary
Containing Life Sketches of Leading Citizens
Camden and Burlington Counties
Inquirer - February 3, 1898
Click on Image for PDF File of Complete Article
Jessup - David
Baird Sr. - Thaddeus P. Varney - George Barrett - Harry
Isaac Toone - John H. Fort - Philip Schmitz - O. Glen Stackhouse - Charles M. Baldwin
George R. Thompson - Frederick Kauffman - Benjamin Braker - David M. Chambers
William H. Davis - Dr. John W. Donges - Harry B. Paul
Philadelphia Inquirer * October 29, 1899
Mick - Dr.
John W. Donges - Christopher S. Magrath - Isaac Ferris Jr. -
John Hood - George D. Borton - James F. Davis - Joseph Devinney - George Holl - Joseph Nowrey
William E. Anthony - David T. Campbell - John Pugh - John K. Esler - Harry Stetser
Cornelius Schepperkotter - Dr. Francis J. Bicker - Jonas S. Miller - Allyn Brewer
Joseph Peacocok - David A. Shreeve - Charles D. Heath - Frederick Krueger - F.S. Neipling
Aaron Bryant - Jacob C. Lippincott - Thomas Wentz Jr. - William J. Thompson - John S. Smith
George Williams - Charles C. Old - Jacob C. Daubman - Major William H. Tice
Clarence T. Atkinson - James Burke - Thomas Bodell - Francis Ford Patterson Jr.
Philadelphia Inquirer - January 31, 1904
|Charles H. Laird - Dr. John W. Donges - Charles G. Garrison|
Philadelphia Inquirer - November 24, 1908
Bank Directory - March-December 1916
|Camden Courier-Post - February 6, 1931|
of Our Saviour
St. John's Episcopal Church
Ralph W. E. Donges
Dr. Clarence B. Donges
Dr. Grant E. Kirk,
Dr. William Kensinger
Dr. R.I. Haines
|Camden Courier-Post - September 21, 1928|
Samuel M. Shay
Elizabeth S. Fernan
Raymond R. Donges
Wilbert V. Pike
Dr. Clarence Donges
John W. Donges
Raymond R. Donges Jr.
Walter T. Pratt
|Camden Courier-Post - June 12, 1933|
Old Centreville Families
WHEN a larger community annexes an adjoining district the newer area is generally regarded, for a time at least, as a step-child. Older residents of East Camden will bear out that truism when they recall how difficult it was to obtain improvements. Years before, Newton Township which became part of Camden, had had the same experience. Under such circumstances, it requires tireless energy on the part of leading men to get what their district needs. Demands often go unheeded unless the community is fortunate in having those of spirit who insist on street improvements, water extension, lighting facilities and schools. That was more in evidence half a century ago than now, of course, for Camden itself was little more than a large village.
Down in Centreville there were men who looked after the interests of their constituents, who slowly but surely obtained, improvements and who insisted on being recognized by the powers that be. No one may think of old Centreville without thought of Dr. John W. Donges, whose value to not only that section but Camden at large, has been expatiated upon in these annals. He was not only a leading physician, with a practice extending into Camden, but a leader in many civic movements, and any article on that era would be incomplete without allusion again to the doctor whose services as a real family physician are part of the traditions of many old families.
Came Here In 1872
He came here in 1872 from Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, when his health was affected by overwork through loyalty to his patients. He bought the drugstore at Ferry Avenue and Broadway, remaining there for many years. It was there Supreme Court Justice Ralph W. E. Donges spent his boyhood.
There, too, Dr. Clarence B. Donges and Attorney Raymond Donges were boys. Grant E. Kirk, clerk in his store, later becoming a physician and for several years a member of council and at one time being prominently boomed for mayor, married their sister. Dr. Donges was elected to council in 1878 on the Democratic ticket, itself an evidence of the high regard in which he was held, for the Eighth Ward generally was rockribbed Republican. Until the early part of this century he resided in his old place, but later went to Broadway and Clinton Streets. In later years, after he had retired, he was city assessor, "just to keep busy." He died a few years ago, well in his 80s, mourned by a great host of Camdenites.
There was another widely known Centreville family of the old days, that of Samuel Mills, who had his own abattoir at Broadway and Jackson Street, where city-dressed meats were provided before the days of car refrigeration brought supplies from the great packing places in Chicago. His son, Charlie, was long a member of the Board of Education, while another, William, was a city councilman. Edward Milis, another son, was excise commissioner 35 years ago in the days when there was plenty of trouble with Sunday sellers.
Cornelius Schepperkotter was a factor in politics down that way, too, having a grocery store on Ferry Avenue at Ninth, later moving to the southwest corner when the Charles Sumner School was built. That school was torn down two years ago for the recreation center. Schepperkotter was a member of the old Board of Public Instruction in the late 90's, named by Mayor Cooper B. Hatch. In later years and until his death, he was superintendent of Evergreen Cemetery. He was father of Mrs. Frank S. Albright, wife of City Clerk Albright.
Shortly after the New York shipyard was opened, there moved to the "Hill" Frank D. L. Covely, who became a joiner and for years was foreman of the joiner shop. He was widely known as a secret society man and also as an effective campaign speaker for the G. O. P. He was a member of the Board of Education.
He sought to go to council, but that was at the time Kirk was a power in the ward. Covely laughingly used to tell of a meeting all set for him from which all save the colored folk were drawn away through strategy of his party opponents. But for ten years he was a member of the Board of Recreation Commissioners.
That movement owed much to his work. Nor did he forget his colored friends, for he had a playground established for them at Ferry Avenue and Phillips Street and the large one [Staley Park- PMC] at Seventh and Jefferson streets. Long afterward that was named for another city official, but Covely's friends said it should have been for him, as a monument to his services for the boys and girls of Centreville. He died a few years ago at Bellmawr in his 70s, after a hectic experience as a chicken raiser at Port Norris.
There, too, was William Dorrell, superjntendent of the old "Narrow Guage" who was one of the leading spirits in the paving of Broadway, nearly 60 years ago the big issue of that section. He lived in a house along the railroad still standing, as the hospital and dispensary of the shipyard.
Mention has been made of the Ferrises, the Helmbolds, the Yeagers, of Squire James D. Chester and Squire F. Joseph Rouh. There was also William O. Thompson, the leading contractor down that way for many years and Theodore Tiedeken, who established the wagon works on Van Hook Street, Martin Ewe, who had the hotel at Broadway and Emerald, and down the street a bit James Croker, who operated Tammany Hall. Forty years ago there was one of the best young athletes of the city, Thomas Nicholas, now retired Camden fire chief. He was down in old No. 3 with Bill Rose, long a fire captain, Bill Miller, Al James, Sam Lodge, Gus Dold and Jim Ware.
Many of these old timers have passed on, but others are still in the flesh but scattered to all parts of the city but it may be said the survivors look back on the days that were down there in Centreville with an interest that does not dim with the passing years.
Where Dr. John Donges
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