THE ENGEL FAMILY
The Engel family
has a permanent place in the history of Camden for its activities in
the bar business in Cramer
Hill and in North Camden in general, and for
the actions of one member of the family on September 6, 1949 in
particular. On that day, Howard
Unruh went on his murderous spree at North 32nd Street and River
Avenue in Cramer Hill, and Frank Engel, in
the course of defending his family and the customers at his bar, shot
and wounded the mad killer.
This family is connected by marriage to several Camden families including the Roles Family, the Griffee family, the Milton Kelly family, the Thomas McKenna family, and the Walter George family.
The Early Years 1890s-1940
Julius Engel was born in what is now Slovakia, then part of the empire of Austria-Hungary, on March 17, 1865. He came to America in 1885, and in 1888 married Mary Amelia Hajdu, who was born 1871 in Kisrata, Hungary and emigrated to America in 1887 with her parents, John and Anna (née Tymko) Hajdu and brother Joseph.
The Engels first appear in Camden City Directories in 1896. They had previously lived in Reading, Pennsylvania, where son Julius Jr. was born on December 17, 1892. Shortly after his birth the family moved to New Jersey where daughter Minnie was born followed by Ella, Anna, Bertha Frances, John, Louis George "George", Dorothy "Dora", and Francis X. "Frank" Engel.
The 1896 Camden City Directory shows Julius and Mary Engel at 1045 Pine Street. He was working as a carpenter in Philadelphia. By the time the 1899 Directory was compiled the family moved to 1029 Pine Street. Julius Engel worked for the most part as a cabinetmaker into the 1910s. The family remained on Pine Street through 1901. Directories from 1901 to 1908 show the family had moved to 1807 South 10th Street in Camden's Centerville neighborhhod. The Engels stayed in Centerville into the 1930s.
The 1910 Census and Directory both show the Engels at 1717 South 9th Street. The family at this time consisted of Julius Engel and Mary Engel, and their children. The 1911 Directory has the family living at 1748 South 8th Street. When the 1912 edition was compiled the Engels had moved to 1827 South 10th Street. The family would remain there into the 1930s.
The move to 1827 South 10th Street brought the Julius Engel and family closer to his in-laws. Mary Amelia Engel's parents, John and Annie Hajdu and their son had Americanized their name to Hyde and were living at 1829 South 10th Street by 1909. John Hyde passed away prior to the 1910 Census. The 1910 Census shows Mrs. Hyde, her son Joseph Hyde and his wife, also named Annie, their daughters Annie, Josephine, Mary and adopted daughter Helen at 1825 South 10th Street. The Engels and the Hydes would occupy 1825, 1827, and 1829 South 10th Street as late as 1931.
Julius and Mary Engel are listed at 1827 South 10th through 1931. The Hydes lived next door at 1829 South 10th Street through these years. Mary Engel's mother passed during the 1910s. Julius Engel Jr. married prior to his having to register for the draft on June 5, 1917. His sister Minnie had also married. Both Julius Jr. and Minnie were not living at South 10th Street when the Census was taken in January of 1920. The 1920 shows Julius and Mary, along with children Ella, John, George, Dorothy, Frank, and Helen Hyde at 1827 South 10th Street. Mary Engel's brother Joseph, his wife Annie and their six children, Anna, Josephine, Mary, Emma, Joseph Jr., and William lived at 1829. Julius and Mary Engel along with sons John and Frank are listed at 1827 South 10th Street in the 1928 City Directory.
During the 1920s two of the Engel sons, George and Julius Jr., married two of the McKenna sisters. Son George Engel had married Mary Ann McKenna shortly before the 1926 Directory was compiled. Directories show George and his wife Mary living with his parents as late as 1927. 1928 brought George and Mary a son, Louis George Engel Jr., and a move to a house of their own at 1825 South 10th Street. Julius Engel Jr., who had gone with his wife to live in Buffalo. New York in 1919, had returned to Camden unmarried and also lived at 1825 South 10th Street in 1928. Julius Jr. married Mary Ann's sister, Ella Mildred McKenna on July 13 of that year.
The 1930 Census would be the last taken in the homes on South 10th Street, as these properties were taken and razed to make way for the Clement T. Branch Village public housing project in the late 1930s. The 1930 Census shows George Engel at 1825 South 10th Street with his wife Mary, son Louis George Engel Jr., and daughter Lillian Jane. Mrs. Annie Hyde and her six children were still living at 1829 South 10th Street.
During the 1930s Julius Engel Jr. and his family moved out of Camden. Mary Amelia Engel was at the home of her daughter Minnie Michael, who with her husband Frank lived above the bar they operated at 2110 Clearfield Street in Philadelphia. Mary Engel was fatally injured after falling from a rooftop patio. She was taken to Philadelphia General Hospital where she passed away, on January 19, 1933.
George Engel was working as a foreman at the Camden Pottery Company factory at Chestnut and Orchard Streets as early as 1926 and was still there into the 1940s. In the early 1930s he moved his family to Erial, New Jersey, and made the commute into Camden. Unfortunately George and Mary's marriage fell apart during the 1930s.
Mary McKenna Engel left her husband and children in the country in Erial to go back to the Camden-Philadelphia area where she found work in the garment industry. She was lodging on Sheridan Street in Camden when the 1940 Census was taken. She met and eventually married a Philadelphian, Carl Brown, who in time established a dress manufacturing business. Mary, a skilled seamstress, after working at different aspects of her craft in various companies, finally settled in as a sewing machine operator for Gastwirth Brothers in Philadelphia, who made children's coats, and stayed there until the end of her working days. She became the United Garment Workers' union representative in that factory. In addition to her hard factory work, on weekends, she was back on her own sewing machine at home, making beautiful clothes in the latest fashions for herself, her daughter , her grandchildren and friends. More than one of them walked down the aisle in one of Mary's lovely creations.
When the Census was taken in 1940, Julius Jr. was living in Bellmawr, New Jersey and working at the New York Shipbuilding Corporation shipyard. In 1940 Frank Engel lived at 566 Auburn Street and worked at RCA-Victor in Camden.
Return to Camden 1943-1983
When the 1943 City Directory was compiled none of the Engel men were listed, as none lived in Camden. Julius Sr. may have been living with his daughter Minnie in Philadelphia, and as of this writing Frank and John's whereabouts are not known. Julius Jr. was living in Mount Ephraim when he registered for the draft in April of 1942, and the Hydes had left the house on South 10th Street. George Engel was living in Erial and commuting to Camden every day to work as a foreman at Camden Pottery. Shortly after the 1943 Camden City Directory was compiled, George Engel's ex-wife Mary and her new husband Carl Brown moved to a newly built home at 452 Raritan Street in East Camden. Her daughter, Lillian J. "Jane" Engel, who had lived with her father for some time in Erial, came to live there after graduating from junior high school in Blackwood. She attended and graduated in 1947 from Woodrow Wilson High School on Federal Street in Camden, where she became friends with Dorothy Brown (no relation to Carl), who lived on Carman Street in East Camden. Dorothy introduced her to a neighbor, Milton W. Kelly, of 3007 Carman Street. Milton was a combat veteran of World War II who had spent five months in a German POW camp. On October 18, 1947 Jane and Milton were married at Asbury Methodist Church on Westfield Avenue in Camden.
Milton's grandparents, William and Eva Roles, owned the Roles Court Apartments on North 34th Street above Rosedale Avenue. The Kelly's were living there in 1949 when daughter Carol was born. A son, Brian, came along not long afterwards. Sadly the young couple separated and Jane with her young children then moved to the Westfield Acres public housing project. During that time she worked at RCA Victor in what was then Delaware Township (present-day Cherry Hill), New Jersey. They left the city in the mid-1950s for Pennsauken when Jane remarried. She had met her new husband, William James Stiefel III of Cramer Hill while both were attending Woodrow Wilson High School. Jane's mother Mary and her husband Carl Brown, had moved to Franklinville, New Jersey by 1954 but were still commuting every working day into Philadelphia. In their later years they moved to Philadelphia to live in the Parkway House, Philadelphia's first high rise apartment building near the Philadelphia Art Museum. Carl Brown died in Philadelphia in April of 1977. In the last ailing year of her life, when she could no longer live on her own, Mary Brown left Philadelphia and went to live in Kalamazoo, Michigan, close to her daughter Jane who could take better care of her there, and there she died, August 6, of 1986.
In the mid-1940s George and Frank Engel had returned to Camden and had gone into the bar business. The brothers and their families lived above the bar that they owned, Engel's Cafe, at 3209 River Avenue. George's son Louis, who lived with his father, graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1946 and went on to graduate from Drexel Institute of Technology (present-day Drexel University).
By 1949 George Engel had gone out on his own. He had acquired the Eugene Widmann family's bar at 952 North Front Street in North Camden, known as late as October 1959 as the Erie Cafe. This bar, later known as The Frontier Playhouse, was closed by the 1970s and no longer stands. In the mid- and late 1950s George Engel also had a bar in Pennsauken at 6324 Westfield Avenue, the corner of Cove Road and Westfield Avenue, called, according to the 1956 and 1959 New Jersey Bell Telephone Directories, Engle's Tavern. By 1969 it was known as Lombardo's and in the 2010s as Bobby Ray's.
Julius Engel Sr. passed away in Camden in 1951. Tragically, George Engel's son Louis G. Engel was killed in a plane crash in September of 1955. His niece, Carol Kelly, wrote of Louis in March of 2015:
"He was working out in Ohio. From the time he was a little kid, he had had a passion for airplanes. He wanted to make a living building and selling them. In a team of three engineers, he built his own plane and after many hours of successful flying time in it, the big day came to fly before the government inspectors. To the shock of onlookers, he and his copilot crashed. Debris of the plane was spread far and wide. We were living at Westfield acres at the time, it was the fall of 1955."
George Engel had remarried by this time, and there was a son, Gary Wayne Engel. A daughter was born after Louis had passed. George Engel died in Camden on February 12, 1974
Julius Engel Jr. never returned to Camden, but did go into the bar business. He opened a bar around Clementon, New Jersey which he ran with his wife Mildred and his son Julius Engel III, who was known to have a beautiful voice and sing for the clients. Julius III also served in the Korean War. The Engels were still living in Bellmawr as late as 1959. By 1973 they had moved to Stratford, New Jersey. Sadly, Julius Engel III passed away on April 29, 1973. Julius Jr. died on February 27, 1974. Mildred later left New Jersey to live with her daughter Ellen in Florida, where she passed away in 1996. .
Frank Engel operated his bar on River Avenue until 1982, then sold it to William Eckel who operated it as the Silver Dollar Saloon until 2001. Last a resident of Maple Shade, New Jersey, Frank Engel passed away in 1983.
Regarding the other children of Julius and Mary Engel, John Engel became a professional boxer and also a woodworker, never married and passed away on November 5, 1969. As of this writing, only little information is known regarding what became of Julius and Mary Engel's daughters, Minnie, Ella, Anna, Bertha, and Dora.
Anna Engel married a Walter F. George and had two children, Anna and Walter F. George Jr., who was killed in WWII.
As stated previously, Minnie Engel had married Frank Michael and in 1933 they were running a bar in Philadelphia above which they lived. In later life they moved to Brigantine where they ran a bait and tackle shop and rented out boats.
Dorothy who had worked in the cigar factory eventually married a Mr. Brown (no relation to the others) and lived in Philadelphia. Ella moved to Baltimore and Bertha married a Mr. Scott and lived in Somerville, New Jersey where she had at least two daughters that are known of.
| The Engel Family
Top: Unknown Neighbor, Julius Engel Jr., Mildred
Engel, L. George Engel Sr.
Bottom: Julius Engel III, Ellen Engel,
452 Raritan Street
Camden, New Jersey
circa June 1943
Milton W. Kelly
Lillian Jane "Jane" Engel
Asbury Methodist Church
R. Kelly - Doreen Kelly - Eva Mae Kelly - Milton W. Kelly - Jane Engel
Virginia Brennan - Louis G. Engel Jr. - Catherine McKenna - Mildred McKenna - Eva E. Roles - William J. Roles
|Christmas 1950 - Eva Roles - William J. Roles - Carol Kelly|
|Eva E. Roles - William J. Roles - Carol Kelly|
right, top row: Jane Kelly, Bill Petris - Betty Reeves Petris - Ruthie
Bottom row: Doreen Kelly holding Carol Kelly - Richard Reeves.
|Roles Court Apartments - 100 Block of North 34th Street - 1952|
|Carol Kelly - Eva Mae Roles Kelly - Brian D. Kelly|
|Roles Court Apartments - 100 Block of North 34th Street - 1952|
|Carol Kelly - Brian Kelly - Jane Kelly|
|Roles Court Apartments - Summer - 1954|
Carol Kelly - Unknown Neighbor Child - Brian Kelly - Jane Engel Kelly
September 7, 1974
Frank Engel - Engel's Cafe
Francis X. Engel Sr.
|Camden Courier-Post * August 1983|
|Engel's Cafe - River Avenue - Cramer Hill - Howard Unruh|
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