Submitted by: Shawn Waldron
Victor Hagemann served in World War 1 with the United States Navy. The dates of service are: Known March 1918 - war's end?.
Victor L. Hagemann, World War I Veteran
Shared by John Hiltz to my class after we had researched our local monument that had his grandfathers name:
"I want to tell you some about my grandfather, Victor L. Hagemann. On the Merchantville Memorial, his name was misspelled and he is listed as Victor Hagerman. My grandmother told me that he was livid at the unveiling when he saw that his name was misspelled.
"When the United States entered the war, Victor was 20 years old and an accounting student at the University of Pennsylvania. He lived with his father and step-mother at 14 E. Walnut Avenue in Merchantville. He wanted to join the Navy before he was drafted. He considered being drafted before he could enlist as a sign of dishonor. However, in those days you were not considered to be an adult until you turned 21, so join the Navy, he had to have his parents sign a permission form. His father, Albert C. Hagemann refused to sign. Victor joined anyway, lying about his age. When Albert found out, he went and brought Victor home.
"When Victor turned 21 in March, 1918, he was finally able to join the Navy on his own. He then packed all of his belongings into a trunk, then took the trunk to his girlfriend’s house. His girlfriend, Frances Reinhart lived at 217 N. Centre Street. The trunk stayed on her back porch until Victor returned from the war. Victor then wrote a note to his parents, left the note on his bed, and then left home to report to the Navy.
"Originally, Victor was assigned to a ship that was to sail to Russia. Before the ship sailed, he contracted diphtheria and almost died. He was too sick to sail and the ship left without him. When he recovered, he was assigned to the USS Pittsburg which sailed to South America. I have included in this email a picture of Victor and Frances from right before he left with his ship. There is also a picture of Victor. These pictures were taken in the back yard of 217 N. Centre and are digital scans off of large format negatives. You can see that Victor was very thin from his bout of diphtheria. Victor was a yeoman on the Pittsburg. I have included a picture of him with some of his shipmates in his ship’s office. Victor is on the left. This picture is a digital scan from one of his prints.
"After the war, there was a possibility that Victor could have attended the Naval Academy. Frances did not want to be married to a naval officer who would be out to sea for much of the year, so Victor did not pursue this. Instead, he married Frances in 1920 and went to work as a flour broker in Philadelphia with her father. Frances and Victor had two daughters, Virginia who was born in 1921 and Ruth, my mother, who was born in 1924. The flour business failed during the Great Depression.
"During the 1920s and early 30s, the family lived in several houses in Merchantville and nearby Pennsauken. In the 1930s, they moved into 217 N. Centre St. after Frances’s parents died. They stayed there until after World War II. After Pearl Harbor, Victor tried to reenlist in the Navy, but was rejected because he was too old. He then found an office job at the Philadelphia Navel Yard. He was able to be part of the war effort and be close to ships. After World War II, he went to work as an accountant at RCA, which was a major employer in Camden in those days.
"Victor died of stomach cancer in January, 1962, just short of his 65th birthday. His final home was at 16 Morris St. Frances lived until 1979. They are both buried in Beverly National Cemetery. My grandmother carefully stored his ROTC uniform from his time at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as one of his sailor uniforms. I still have those stored in the same cedar chest where my grandmother put them."