CHARLES EDWARD WATKIN JR. was born in Philadelphia,  Pennsylvania on December 19, 1879 to Charles E. and Sally Watkin. He does not appear in the Camden City Directories prior to 1900. 

Charles E. Watkin does appear in the 1900 Census. He was living with his wife Millie at 53 Wood Street in North Camden and working as a painter. There were no children at that time, but three would be born before the end of the decade, Georgianna, Matilda, and William C. Watkin. The 1906 City Directory, which as do several print sources, list him a s "Watkins" show him working as a riveter and living at 907 North Front Street.

When the Census was taken in 1910 the Watkin family was living at 18 York Street in North Camden. He was then working as a driver for Frank Lee Dickinson & Company, a wholesale grocery firm at York and Beach Streets, as was a neighbor at 10 York Street, Abraham Kern. Both men would go on to have long careers with the Camden Fire Department. 

By 1914 the Watkin family had moved to 909 Point Street in North Camden. Abraham Kern and Charles E. Watkin were both appointed to the Camden Fire Department not long after the 1914 Camden City Directory was compiled, Charles E. Watkin's appointment being effective January 1, 1915. Charles E. Watkin was working as a Camden fire fighter and still living at 909 Point Street when he registered for the draft on September 12, 1918. His ability was soon recognized, and by 1921 he had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, serving at Engine Company 5, on Federal Street at 12th Street. On December 23, 1921 Charles E. Watkin was promoted to Captain, replacing Charles A. Todd at Engine Company 7 upon Todd's retirement at the end of February 1922.

On April 8, 1922 while serving as Captain of Engine Company 7, Charles Watkin was injured while attempting to rescue a child from a burning building at 1009 Broadway. He was injured again in March of 1924, and for a third time while serving with Engine Company 7  when in July of 1925 a wall collapsed on him while fighting a fire at 252 Division Street

The 1924 Camden City Directory shows that Charles E. Watkin was still serving with  Engine Company 7 at 1115 Kaighn Avenue, and that he and his family had moved across the street, to 908 Point Street. The Watkins are still listed there in the 1927 Directory, however a newspaper report from 1925 gives an address of 927 North Front Street. By the time the 1929 edition was being prepared Charles E. Watkin had been reassigned to Engine Company 11 on North 27th Street in Cramer Hill. He and his family were then living at 2729 Hayes Avenue. His daughter were still living at home, his son William C. Watkin, however, had married and was living at 804 North 30th Street. By April of 1930 Charles E. Watkins, his wife and daughters had moved to 2711 Hayes Avenue.

Charles E. Watkin was living at the Hayes Avenue address and still serving as Captain of Engine Company 11 when he registered for the draft in the spring of 1942. On May 1 of that year, Charles E. Watkin's son William C. Watkin was appointed to Camden's Fire Department and like his father, would make a career out of the fire service. Father and son served together for seven years. On May 1, 1949, at the age of 69, Charles E. Watkin retired from the Camden Fire Department, having served the City for over 34 years.

Charles E. Watkin is not listed in the New Jersey Bell Telephone Directories of the 1950s. He lst resided with his daughter Georgianna Kelly, at 262 Ablett Village. Charles E. Watkin died at Cooper Hospital on February 14, 1954. His son, William C. Watkin, served for 29 years and 11 months before retiring on April 1, 1972.


August 12, 1904

John Foster
George Daly
Edward S. Strang
Charles E. Watkin
O. Glen Stackhouse

Locust Street
Walnut Street

Camden Iron Works

Camden Daily Courier
January 25, 1915

Robert Steer
William W. Patterson

James Elberson
Robert Brice
Ephraim T. Hires
Joseph Logue
Howard L. Currie
Joseph T. Daley
Howard Street
Rev. J.L. Surtees
Rev. Isaac Bagley
State Street Methodist Episcopal Church
Engine Company 4
John A. Stockton
Peter B. Carter
Walter Browning
Daniel Grimes
Charles Watkin
Engine Company 5
Robert Steer Jr.
Carrie Steer

Camden Daily Courier
November 24, 1915

Robert Brice
Joseph T. Daley
Daniel Grimes
William W. Patterson
Charles Cook
Peter B. Carter
Joseph Logue
Ephraim T. Hires
Rollo Jones
Harvey Watts
Arthur Wingate
Harry Hankins
Josiah Sage
Abraham Kern
Charles Watkin
Martin Carrigan
John Miller
Frank Sheridan
Engine Company 4


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Camden Daily Courier
May 21, 1920

Engine Company 10
Ladder Company 4
James White
Horace Cairns
Mortica Clark
John Vickers
Charles Watkin
Herman O. Kreher
John A.S. Hunt
George Hunt
James McDermott
William Miller
Harry Selby

Joseph T. Daley
Roy A. Smith
Seth Monell
William Madison


Philadelphia Inquirer - December 24, 1921

Charles Todd - Charles Watkin - Harry M. Chambers
Alfred Lassby

Engine Company 5 - Ladder Company 2 - Engine Company 7

Philadelphia Inquirer - April 28, 1922
Click on Images for PDF File of Entire Article
Samuel M. Price - John Hunt - Irwin Bishop - Charles Watkin - William Merrigan
William Reynolds - Broadway - Broadway Trust Company - Harry Armbruster
Cooper Hospital - Lyric Theater 
Ladder Company 2 - Engine Company 7 - Engine Company 8
Click on Images for PDF File of Entire Article
Click on Images for PDF File of Entire Article

Trenton Evening Times - March 24, 1924

Charles Watkin - Lawrence Mathews - George Hunt

Camden Evening Courier - July 27, 1925

Fire Fighters are Rescued From Beneath Heaps of Hot Bricks
Bantivoglio Junk Yard Destroyed- Loss Runs Into Thousands

Four firemen were buried under a falling brick wall, two of them believed to have been seriously hurt, and thousands of dollars worth of property was destroyed in a spectacular fire at the two story brick warehouse of Bantivoglio & Son, junk dealers, 252 Division Street, at 9:00 o'clock this morning.

The injured firemen attached to Engine Company No. 7, all of whom were taken to West Jersey Homeopathic Hospital, were:

Captain Charles Watkin 45 years old, 927 North Front street. Four fractured ribs and a punctured lung. he may die.

Nicholas Romaine, 43 years old, hoseman, 1271 Chase Street, lacerations of scalp and possible fracture of right ankle.

Louis Quinton, 25 years old, hoseman. 626 Viola Street, probable fracture of right shoulder.

Lester Anderson, 24 years old, hoseman, 1917 Niagara Road; lacerations of scalp and forehead and fractured left wrist.

None of the four were able to walk when they were lifted from where they had been struck down by the falling bricks. They were carried to the police ambulance and hurried at once to the hospital.

Residents of the neighborhood sat that a flash and a roar, as of an explosion, was their first warning of a blaze. The burned building has a frontage of 75 feet on Division Street. In a yard behind it there was a shed piled high with baled paper and three piled of used automobile tires. These caught fire and sent up black smoke that was visible for miles.

Smoke Hampers Firemen

A huge crowd of spectators already had gathered to watch the fire in this thickly populated section when the firemen arrived. The flames were threatening surrounding buildings, and the smoke was so dense that the men had difficulty finding their way out in the vicinity of the burning structure.

Captain Watkin and the three other fire fighters started along a driveway beside the building with a length of hose which they intended to use on the blazing sheds in the rear. They were passing a window when there was a muffled roar and a blast of dense smoke blinded and confused them. By shouts to one another they heard that there number was still intact. The blast of black smoke had been caused by the collapse of a loft and the falling of several bales of paper.

100,000 Tires Burn

More than 100,000 used automobile tires were destroyed in the blaze. The flames jumped a hundred feet into the air at one stage. Commissioner Hitchner watched the firemen at work from the roof of a nearby garage.

When the blaze had been extinguished Mr. Hitchner left to visit the injured firemen in the hospital. He commended the four men on their bravery and wished them a speedy recovery. Quinton is driver for Battalion Chief Wade.

The flames threatened to spread to the large garage of Louis Vananeri, on Spruce Street, directly in the rear of the junk yard. Firemen mounted the roof of this building and drove the flames back.

Today's blaze was the fourth that had visited the warehouse this year. The fire today is believed to have been caused by spontaneous combustion.

Carter Directs Rescue

The quarter were stooping to take up their hose line again when there was a crack like the report of a pistol, followed by a terrific roar.

Fire Chief Carter, personally directing his men, was about 50 feet away, and saw the four men buried as the bricks thudded down from the crumbling wall.

"Come on boys, there are four men under here." the chief yelled, and soon a score of hands were tearing frantically at the heaps of hot brick.

Bus Delays Ambulance

The police ambulance in which the injured men were placed was delayed for five minutes on its way to the hospital by the refusal of a Public Service bus driver to give it the right of way. According to Policeman Howard Fisher, the busman was arrested. The police say he will be prosecuted to the full extent of the ordinance in such cases. The ambulance was forced to remain behind the bus for a block and a half, according to the reports.

The pillar of smoke sent up by the blazing warehouse, sheds and 50-foot high piles of auto tires, drew thousands of spectators from all directions. Three alarms were turned in to the fire department in rapid succession. The police were called upon at once to establish lines for keeping back the crowd.

Bales of paper stored in the main building, as well as in the shed behind, .absorbed tons of water poured into the place by the firemen's hose, and the added weight snapped off fire-weakened floor beams like burning matches. The falling timbers and masses of packed paper added to the danger and difficulty of the firemen's task.

Only by a long and stubborn fight were the foremen able to prevent a conflagration among surrounding buildings.

The big warehouse became a red hot furnace. The heat was so intense a half-hour after the fire was discovered that telephone ad electric light poles on the other side of Division Street were ignited. "Trouble crews" from the telephone and electric companies were rushed to the place to guard their wires against falling and injuring persons below.

Loss placed at $50,000

It was roughly estimated that the the damage to the junk sheds and warehouse would reach $50,000.

Mrs. Leona Brown, who had just moved today into the house at 264 Division Street, just east of the burned plant, was driven from her new home by the dense clouds of smoke from a blazing of automobile tires that towered above the west wall of her two-story dwelling.

She was unable to return for any of her belongings when the .flames began to eat their way through the west wall of her house.

The fire was the second within a month in the junk yard, which is closely surrounded by frame residences, a frame negro church and other buildings on all sides.

Romaine Seriously Hurt

Hoseman Romaine was reported by. surgeons at the West Jersey Homeopathic Hospital as the most seriously hurt of the firemen caught by the falling wall. He was curt above the head, badly bruised about the back, and one of his ankles is believed to have been fractured.

Captain Watkin suffered several fractured ribs.

Hoseman Anderson was cut and burned about the face and his right wrist.

Hoseman Quinton suffered burns, cuts and bruises, and it is believed that one of his shoulders was fractured.


Evening Courier

July 27, 1925

Click on Image to Enlarge

Four firemen were buried under a falling wall when fire swept a two-story warehouse and junkyard at 250-252 Division Street at 9:30 this morning. The photograph shows firemen pouring tons of water on piles of baled paper and old automobile tires. The firemen worked three hours before the blaze was under control. The flames threatened surrounding properties.

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