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Joseph R. Biden, Sr. with his son, then Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (Photo submitted to Find-a-Grave by T. J. Collins)

Joe Biden’s father a clerk-typist for Amoco in York

The father of Presidential candidate Joe Biden worked as a clerk-typist for the American Oil Company Bulk Plant along Hill Street in Spring Garden Township. At the time, Joe Biden, Sr. was 24-years-old, which is one year before he married and two years before the birth of Joe Biden, Jr.

The photo shows Joseph R. Biden, Sr. with his son, then Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. They are wearing badges, which note: “I’m Joe Biden, Sr.” and “I’m Joe Biden, U.S. Senator.”

I was doing some WWII family history research via Draft Registration Cards in the York area and stumbled upon the following card. I wondered if Joseph Robinette Biden is any relation to Presidential candidate Joe Biden. Indeed he is! He is Joe Biden’s father.

WWII Draft Registration Card for Joseph R. Biden, Sr. done October 16, 1940, in York, PA (Source: Ancestry.com)

Per his registration for the draft on October 16, 1940, Joe Biden, Sr. is working for American Oil Company in York, located at Hill Street and the Ma & Pa Railroad. The address of his father, Joseph H. Biden, is crossed out and replaced with Y.M.C.A., York, PA.

I wondered if Joe Biden, Sr. was in York, earlier in 1940, during the 1940 United States Census. The 1940 United States Census for the City of York, Pennsylvania contains the following entry for Joseph R. Biden, among the residents of the Y.M.C.A. Dormitory per Enumeration district 67-117; enumerated April 9, 1940, on Sheet No. 81B, Line No. 43:

Name: Biden, Joseph R.
Sex: Male
Race: White
Age at last birthday: 24
Marital status: Single
Highest grade of school completed: College 1st year
Place of birth: Maryland
Residence on April 1, 1935: Scranton, Lackawanna Co., Pennsylvania
Was this person AT WORK during week of March 24-30, 1940: Yes
Number of hours worked during week of March 24-30, 1940: 40
Occupation: Clerk-Typist
Industry: Oil Bulk Plant
Number of weeks worked in 1939: 52
Income in 1939, for 12 months ending Dec. 31, 1939: $1,050

The American Oil Company Bulk Plant was located at 385 Hill Street; which is between the Ma & Pa Railroad and Spahn Avenue in Spring Garden Township. The following present view shows that property, on which Amoco closed this Bulk Plant in 1962. From that plant, upwards of one million gallons of fuel products and lubricants were distributed each month.

Former location of Amoco Bulk Plant at 385 Hill Street; via northward view along Hill Street at Spahn Avenue in Spring Garden Township, York Co., PA (Google Street View)

It appears that for at least 6-months, April thru October of 1940, Joe Biden, Sr. was living at the Y.M.C.A. Dormitory, while working at the Amoco Bulk Plant along Hill Street as a Clerk-Typist.

The earliest Joe Biden, Sr. appears in York per local newspapers is August 21, 1939, when the York Dispatch reported: “Joseph Biden, a resident of the Y.M.C.A., has returned from Baltimore, where he was the guest of relatives and friends.” Therefore he could be residing at the “Y” for 14 months, August of 1939 thru October of 1940.” During that time span Joseph Biden appears in a number of plays, presented around the city, in which he is noted among the members of the Y.M.C.A. Dormitory Club.

Y.M.C.A. Building, Corner North Newberry and West Philadelphia Streets, York, PA (Postcard, S. H. Smith Collection)

I started checking directories, on Ancestry.com, to see how early Joe Biden, Sr. was in York. The 1940 Census notes Joe Biden, Sr. is living in Scranton on April 1, 1935. He just recently moved there per the following directory listings during the 1930s:

1934 Directory of Wilmington, Delaware
Joseph H. Biden (wife Mary R) is District Manager American Oil Company, residing at 108 West 36th; his son Joseph R. Biden is a student, at home. [Note: Mary R is for Mary Robinette, her maiden name]

1937 Directory of Scranton, Pennsylvania
Joseph H. Biden (wife Mary E) is Branch Manager American Oil Company, residing at 2202 Adams Ave.; his son Joseph R. Biden is at home.

1939 Directory of Scranton, Pennsylvania
Joseph H. Biden (wife Mary E) is Branch Manager American Oil Company, residing at 2109 Wyoming Ave.; his son Joseph R. Biden is Plant Manager, at home.

Directories are compiled during November and December of the prior year. Therefore sometime between January 1939 and August 1939, Joseph R. Biden moves to the York Y.M.C.A.

Following the approximately 14-months in York, Joseph R. Biden, Sr. is working as a salesman for the American Oil Company, based in Harrisburg. Upon his marriage to Jean Finnegan on May 30, 1941, at Scranton, The Tribune reported: “Mr. Biden is a graduate of St. Thomas High School and attended Johns Hopkins University. He is a salesman for the American Oil Company.” “They will reside at 1739 Herr Street, Harrisburg.” Thus the one-year of college, reported in the 1940 Census, was attending John Hopkins University.

Joe Biden, Sr. next becomes salesman for the American Oil Company, based in Baltimore. Per the following article in The Times-Tribute, Scranton, PA; it appears Joe Biden, Sr. is still based in Baltimore as of November 20, 1942, when Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. is born in Scranton. Were they just visiting the wife’s parents and the baby came early?

Birth of Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. at St. Mary’s Hospital in Scranton, PA on November 20, 1942 (The Times-Tribute, Scranton, PA, issue of November 20, 1942, page 20)

Click on this LINK for a yorkblog.com Full View of the photos in this post.

Link to related post:

Joe Biden, Sr. had prominent role in a York Little Theatre play

Ronald Reagan visited York County factories in 1957 and 1987

Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts

3 comments on “Joe Biden’s father a clerk-typist for Amoco in York

    1. Mary,

      I’m glad you enjoyed this interesting piece of York County history.


  1. Hello Stephen,

    I’m 64, was born in York Hospital, lived in couple houses in the York area until moved away in mid 80’s. I love history and miss the history of York County.
    First lived in beautiful but quaint brick house on Cottage Place adjacent and East of Market St. The Elsessor’s (sp?) lived across the street in a large house. The matriarch (mother in law of the make Elsessor, a letter carrier) had been married to the editor or owner of one of the York newspapers. Our house had a distinctive turret on the East side.
    Anyway, am interested in railroad and trolley history as well as transportation in general including the old Conestoga Trail. Now live in Portland, Oregon which itself has a lot of history. Would be happy to hear about any books and maps you may recommend of those areas of interest above. Am so sorry I was never able to ride on the weekend Ma & Pa excursion train when I was a child!
    John Torrey
    Johntorrey@ yahoo.com

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