Homes of the Brave


The Borough of East Newark covers a grand total of 0.102 square miles (0.123 square miles if you include the portion of the Passaic River within its border). Its population, according to the last U.S. Census in 2010, was 2,406. Back in 1910, it was 3,163. 

Why all these stats? To offer a bit of historical perspective and to emphasize this tiny town’s contribution to amonumental historical event: World War I.

As our nation this year marks the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into that massive conflict, East Newark’s annual Memorial Day commemoration held Tuesday evening, May 23, outside Borough Hall paid special tribute to the 176 East Newarkers who donned uniforms and picked up guns and travelled to the muddy hell of the Western Front to fight for freedom.

That’s a pretty impressive percentage: 176 out of approximately 3,000 residents.  

Incredibly, only four died: John Armstrong, John Daily, Albert Ettlin and Thomas McMullin.

Their names are inscribed at the top of a plaque next to the Borough Hall’s main entry. Also listed are the 172 others who served with honor. All are long gone, but their memory must be preserved.

This year, Karl Petry of Kearny, a member of East Newark’s American Legion Post which is named for Ettlin hit upon a unique way of doing that. 

With a historian’s penchant and talent for research, Petry spent days poring over 1910 handwritten census records (not an easy task considering the penmanship of some of the census takers) and, to the best of his ability, located the home addresses of East Newark WWI veterans.

He was able to confirm 49. Including Ettlin’s.

As Petry noted in a speech at last week’s ceremony, “I wanted to bring a true touch of reality to the people living in town today. … There is a good chance you could be living in the same house where one of these soldiers lived.

Think about it. Think about a young man, probably with no prior military experience, taking up the cause and enlisting and bidding his family good-bye and walking bravely out the door (now your door) and down the front steps (now your steps) into the great unknown.

Noted Petry: “There was John Throughear, who lived at 10 Sherman Ave., and John Ellis, who lived at No. 58; brothers joining together, like William, Thomas and Henry Costello, who lived at 425 Second St., or the Thompson brothers — David, George and Joseph who lived at 412 John St. … Maybe you live at 314 Central Ave., the home of Francis Coffey, or the home of John Phelan, 18 Searing Ave.”

The photo accompanying this story is of 344 John St. as it is today. It was from that house Pvt. Albert Ettlin, U.S. Army, left never to return.

Ettlin — just 21 years old died July 18, 1918, at the Battle of Château-Thierry in France, one of the first actions of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) under Gen. John J. “Black Jack Pershing. According to Wikipedia, it was “part of the Second Battle of the Marne, prompted by a July 15 German offensive against U.S. Army and Marine Corps “and the newest troops on the front.”

The newest troops on the front. We don’t how long the young East Newarker had been there, but he could have been one of those neophytes. 

Ettlin is buried in the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery in Picardy, France, along with 6,011 other American wardead.

American Legion Post 36, East Newark, was named in his honor when it was established Oct. 22, 1924.

As Petry noted, the people of East Newark today are surrounded by this history, including “the school down the street, which almost all of these men went to as boys.

“It’s all here,” he said. Just 100 years later.

So, look around you. A century ago, 176 young men walked these same streets, resided in some of these same houses, lived, loved, and loved their country enough to risk their lives in its name. Think about them once in a while. And thank them, and all our veterans, for their service


In addition to the names and addresses listed above, the following are the others that Petry was able to confirm. Maybe you are lucky enough to be living in one of the heroes’ homes:

James McKenna, 535 Third St.; John McClusky, 16 John St.; Thomas and Bernard Duffy, 409 Second St.; William Breen, 415 Second St.; Terrance and Owen Coogan, 425 Second St.; Hugh Dixon, 471 Second St.; Joseph White, 432 Second St.; George Barry, 430 Second St.; James Degnan, 422 Second St.; Thomas Higgins, 422 Second St.;

Joseph Kaiser, 10 John St.; James Mullen, 445 John St.; Thomas Corblies, 436 John St.; Joseph and Issac Neger, 436 John St.; Joseph Toeman, 430 John St.; John and Edward Flanigan, 420 John St.; C. Stufenberger, 418 John St.; Charles Howarth, 206 Grant Ave.; John O’Connor, 212 Grant Ave.; George Barry, 404 Third St.; John O’Brien, 342 John St.; John Goldham, 169 Grant Ave.;  

Peter Reid, 146 Grant Ave.; John Gilcrest, 4 President St.; John Earl, 510 Third St.; Francis Boyle, 216 Grant Ave.; Charles Rush, 220 Grant Av.; Edward Moore, 222 Grant Ave.; James McKenna, 246 Grant Ave.; William East, 405 Third St.; George Barry, 404 Third St.; John Reynolds, 21 Searing Ave.; Thomas Cunningham, 24 Searing Ave.; Menil Ross, 400 Passaic Ave.

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