Wilkers Sr.


HARRY G. WILKERS SR. was born on April 26, 1892 to Daniel G. and Eliza E. Wilkers. His grandfather, also named Daniel Wilkers, was a United States Navy veteran of the Civil War. His father and widowed mother had moved to Camden from Gloucester City by 1885. City Directories from 1897 through 1899 show Daniel Wilkers and family at 314 Spruce Street. The 1900 Census shows the Wilkers family, which included older sister Mary E. Wilkers, at 332 Cherry Street. Uncle David Wilkers, a widower, lived nearby at 3 Yeager's Court with his children. 

The 1910 Census shows Harry Wilkers living with his parents and uncle David Wilkers at 352 Cherry Street. Both Daniel and David Wilkers were factory workers. The Wilkers family was still living at 352 Cherry Street when the 1914 City Directory was compiled.

Most likely already a a member of the New Jersey National Guard, on July 25, 1917 Harry G. Wilkers entered the United States Army. He rose to the rank of Sergeant during his time in service, serving overseas with Company B, 104th Engineers, 29th Infantry Division. The 104th Engineer Regiment was called into Federal service on June 20, 1917, as a separate Engineer Battalion. On  September 15, 1917, the battalion joined the 29th Infantry Division. The consolidation referred to above, took place while in Federal service to form the Regiment of Engineers in the old Square Division of World War I. 

The 104th Engineer Regiment was formed on October 6, 1917. The regiment was organized from the consolidation of the 1st Battalion New Jersey Engineers and the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th New Jersey Infantry Regiments. Prior to the consolidation of the 1st Battalion, the New Jersey Engineers had units stationed at Newark, Camden, and Trenton, New Jersey. The 1st Battalion had been formed on May 16, 1917. 

On November 24, 1917, while Harry WIlkers was serving with the Army, his father Daniel Wilkers died and was buried at New Camden Cemetery.

On June 14, 1918, the 104th Engineer regiment moved to France as part of the Army Expeditionary Force's 29th Infantry Division. Arriving at Brest, the regiment saw service with the 29th Infantry Division at Moatz, Grandchamps, Coublanc, and Lafford. During the eleven months of AEF service, the battalions of the regiment operated in an attached status with the French Army's V Corps. General engineer support as well as combat engineer operations were provided to both the French Army and the United States First Army. On May 11, 1919, the regiment was sent home to Camp Dix, New Jersey, where it was mustered out of Federal service.

Upon returning from the Army, Harry Wilkers married Mary Fogarty. The 1920 Census shows them living at 918 Mount Ephraim Avenue with Mary's widowed father Charles and brother William and Lewis Fogarty.  

On November 10, 1920 Mary Wilkers gave birth to a son, Harry G. Wilkers Jr., tragically, she died in childbirth and was buried at New Camden Cemetery on November 13th. Harry G. Wilkers Sr. soon remarried. His second wife, the former Louisa Whittick, gave birth to two sons, Charles D. Wilkers and George J. Wilkers.

On March 15, 1926 Harry G. Wilkers Sr. was appointed to the Camden Fire Department. The 1927 City Directory shows Harry and Louis Wilkers at 59 South 26th Street in East Camden. The 1929 Directory shows them at 2959 East Octagon Road in the Yorkship Square section. Fire Department records from 1931 show Harry Wilkers back at 59 South 26th Street. By the end of 1939 Harry G. Wilkers Sr. and family had moved to 2812 Stevens Street in East Camden

On March 6, 1943 Harry Wilkers Jr. was inducted into the United States Army. He rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant. Unfortunately, he was taken prisoner while serving with the 423rd Infantry Regiment, 106th Infantry Division on December 21, 1944 and was held prisoner until April of 1945.

Harry G. Wilkers Sr. retired from the Camden Fire Department on April 1, 1957, having complete 31 years of service.

Sadly, Harry G. Wilkers Jr. died on May 6, 1961 and was buried at Beverly National Cemetery. Harry G. Wilkers Sr. passed away on September 12, 1961. He was buried at Beverly National Cemetery in Beverly, New Jersey, survived by his wife Louisa and sons Charles D. and George J. Wilkers. Louisa Wilkers was still living at 2812 Stevens Street as late as the fall of 1970. By October of 1977 she had moved to 341 Beideman Avenue in the Westfield Acres public housing project. She joined her husband and son in October of 1978. 

Camden Courier-Post - February 4, 1938

City Police Praised at Fete
Honoring Acting Lieutenant Bott

Camden police and firemen gathered last night to pay honor to Acting Lieutenant Herbert Bott, retiring president of the Policemen and Firemen's Association, heard their highest superiors make these statements:

Commissioner Mary W. Kobus, director of Public Safety, declared she had heard stories about the policemen "taking" but that she wanted to say "that the entire force was honest and she was proud to say that it was as good, as honest and efficient as any in. the United States."

Mayor George E. Brunner asserted "the city had gone to ____ before the three New Deal commissioners took charge, and they had brought order out of chaos, collected taxes so thoroughly that on January 1, 1939, the policemen and firemen will be given back the last five percent reduction that had been made in their pay."

Bott, who has been at the head of the association for the past five years, retires because, as he stated, he felt he could not give such service as he felt he had rendered in the past. The affair was held at Kenney's and the ranking officials of the police and fire departments were on hand, together with guests from other parts of the state.

   LIEUT. HERBERT BOTT who quit as president of the Camden Policemen and Firemen's Association after five years' service, and who was feted at Kenney's last night and presented with cash donations.

Wallace Lauds Men

Bruce A. Wallace was toastmaster, and he emphasized the remarks of Commissioner Kobus as to "the honesty of the men."

"When you got that 30 percent reduction in pay,” said Wallace, "I know how you came to my office, worrying about how you would meet your building and loans, how you would pay various debts that you owed, and I know that some of you even gave up your homes, because you couldn't afford to pay for them longer. That would never have happened if you were doing any 'put and-take stuff'."

Mrs. Kobus started with a tribute to Bott, for his own efficiency as a policeman and his fighting qualities as shown in the battles he made for his brother policemen.

 “I knew Herb Bott," she said, "before I got into the department but once in there my sweet dream changed to a nightmare, because every day Bott was there with a delegation wanting something done for the policemen, or asking that something be not done to them.

"We have gone through stormy times together, through strikes and labor troubles and of course I have always found out, through others, naturally that 'the police are always wrong.' I have told the employers where they were wrong, and told the strikers that the police could not have abused them or wronged them because they belonged to an association of their own, fighting for the things that the policemen and the firemen felt that they wanted.

Citizens Gave Praise 

"I hadn't been four weeks in the department before I thought every­body in Camden was affected by 'letter writingitis.' But after four weeks the other kind of letters began to come in, and the police were being given the credit which they had deserved and which they had won for themselves.

"And the longer I am in the department the prouder I am of the police and the fire departments of the city of Camden. I am proud of every policeman and of every fireman in both departments. I have been out at·1.30 a. m. and heard a call come for the car in which I was riding, and in one minute and a half that car was at the scene, in two minutes there was another and in four minutes a half a dozen cars had appeared on the scene.

"I want to say for the men of the police department that nowhere in the United States is there a more honest or more faithful group of men.

"I hear a lot of talk about policemen, I hear lots of talk of how they are 'taking,' but I also want to say that I haven't found one yet who wasn't honest and to prove it crime today in Camden is at its lowest ebb.

"Crime today in Camden has been lowered 40 to 60 percent, and I say to anybody who wants to know that you couldn't have had this condition unless Camden was guarded by an honest, efficient police department.

"That crime in Camden is at its lowest ebb is due entirely to the vigilance of the police department, and to its loyalty to duty. I want to pay tribute to Chief Colsey, to Babe Clayton, to Herb Bott and the other officers of the department for having the police department where it can be proudly acclaimed as without a superior in the whole United States."

Mayor Brunner, after paying his tribute to a personal friend, Herb Bott, declared "Mrs. Kobus is your superior but I'm the man who has to find the money to pay you. And that hasn't been any easy job, I can tell you, as the tax collector's job in any community is a tough one."

"I want to say that things in Camden have gone to ___ in the past, and until the three New Deal Commissioners took charge of affairs, things continued in just that manner. And that we have given an honest, efficient administration is the thought of the average citizen of Camden today.

Promises Pay Restoration

"When we first came into power the people thought they had to pay no taxes. I say now that we have collected the taxes as they should have been collected in the past and as they will be collected in the future.

"Camden doesn't need any new taxes. We have been successful in collecting the taxes because we made those who could pay to pay. The men we put in front, for the first collection of taxes, were the politicians who thought they stood in a favored group and could get away with it.

"I want to assure you policemen that on January 1, 1939, I feel sure that we'll be able to give you back the last five percent that we had to take from you, when things were left in such a shape for us that we could not do anything else.

"People are responding to our tax collections, and the people feel that we are giving them 100 cents for a dollar and that's the reason.

"We have no favorites on the tax rolls. We saw to it that the politicians headed the list of those who were the first to pay, and we've given the little fellow a chance. We've let him pay by the week, or the month or anyway that would suit him best, because we believe that the little fellow is entitled to his own homestead, and we're going to see that he keeps it, but those who can afford to pay and wont are going to be made to pay."

Carlton W. Rowand related that his father, a former police official, had recently, told his son that "the police department today was the best in the history of Camden,"

Surrogate Frank B. Hanna also added his tribute to the department and to the guest of honor.

"The spirit of the police department”, Hanna said, "is shown to no better advantage than in the manner your association aids the underprivileged children of this city. I know, too, that whenever a committee is formed for a job to be done for the men in the department, Herb Bott jumps into action and does his level best for his associates.”

N. J. Crime Bill 10 Millions

Harry B. Gourley, of Paterson, president of the State Police Beneficial Association, declared that crime was costing the state of New Jersey $10,000,000 every year, and that the crime bill of the nation was more than $15,000,000,000.

He asked co-operation in crime prevention and declared that "any attempt to break down the morale of the police was wrong, and the way in which it was easiest broken down was when you dip into the pay check."

He cited numerous instances of the heroism of the policemen, and asked that every citizen stand squarely behind the men in the matter of pensions.

Commissioner Harold W. Bennett also lauded the guest and the police department, as did Harry Wilkers, who succeeds Bott as president of the association and Robert Wonstetler, who becomes delegate to the state convention to replace Bott.

Mrs. Emma Shriver, retiring president of the Ladies Auxiliary, presented Bott with a check, while Wallace gave him the gift of his associates, 50 silver dollars. Mrs. Bott was remembered with flowers.

Willard Schriver was chairman of the committee having the dinner in charge, and associated with him were Charles Cook, Arthur Batten, Maurice F. O'Brien, William Marter, Edward Leonard, Mrs. Schriver, Mrs. Anna Gleason and Mrs. William McGrath.

Camden Courier-Post * February 17, 1938
Dinner Speakers Predict Camden Man Will Get Association Post

Robert Wonsetler, of the Camden Fire Department, was hailed as the next state president of the Firemen's Mutual Benevolent Association at the 41st anniversary dinner of Camden Local, No. 5, last night. It was held in Kenney's Cafe, with 150 members and their women folks attending.

The Camden man is now first vice president of the state association and state representative of the local. James Delaney, of Elizabeth, state president, and other state officers who were among the speakers predicted that when the local has its 42nd anniversary next year, it will have occasion to celebrate the election of Wonsetler as 1939 state president.

Other speakers were Mayor George E. Bruner, City Commissioners Mary W. Kobus and Frank J. Hartmann, Assemblyman Rocco Palese, Fire Chief John H. Lennox, Carlton W. Rowand, Bruce A. Wallace and Freeholder Edward J. Quinlan.

State officers attending, besides Delaney and Wonsetler, were Fred Bailey, Weehawken, second vice president; George Steele, Union City, recording secretary; Joseph Burke, Newark, financial secretary, and Jack Reed, Kearny, treasurer.

Surrogate Frank B. Hanna, who was toastmaster, referred to the three city commissioners present as "candidates for re-election without opposition."

Commissioner Kobus, head of the city fire department, was applauded when she announced wash-stands and showers are being installed in local firehouses and that windbreakers and new fire nets have been ordered.

"The firehouses in Camden are in better condition than ever before,"
Commissioner Hartmann said.

Officers of the Camden Local are Chester Andrus, president; W. Samuel Mountney, vice president; Nelson Andrews, recording secretary; Harrison Pike, financial secretary; Henry Zook, treasurer; Ralph Bingemann, sergeant-at-arms; William H. Harrison, chaplain, and Wonsetler, state representative.

Russell J. Anderson was chairman of the dinner committee, which included Harry Wagner, Arthur Batten, Harry Wilkers, David Humphries and Pike.

World War II Draft Card