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With its rich history, Camden New Jersey has a powerful story of success and decline.  Once populated by Native Americans Camden quickly became an epicenter for trade a growth.  When Europeans developed the area into a town it swiftly grew into a city.  Today, Cooper Street in downtown Camden is a historic district.  More in-depth research on what once was a home located on 223 Cooper Street will further the knowledge of Camden’s deep history.

The no longer standing 223 Cooper Street, was once the home of many families.  The first person to live in this dwelling was Charles Watson, found in the city directories at the Camden County Historical Society.  Charles Watson was born in Maine around 1839, according to Census data.  Although the directories of the city do not note a spouse of Watson until 1897, there is a marriage record of Charles and Amanda Watson in 1856.  Charles and Amanda had one child in 1867 named Emma Watson.  Charles and Amanda’s marriage ended due to death or other unknown reasons by 1876.  Charles remarried a woman named Hannah later that same year.  By 1896, Charles married for the third time a woman named Anna.  On all of these documents Hannah and Anna are both listed as the mother of Emma.  It is only on Emma’s birth record that Amanda is listed as her mother.

The Watson family also had three different domestic workers during their time at 223 Cooper Street.  In the 1880s the Watson’s enlisted the help of an English girl named Elizabeth Bell.  Following in Bell’s footsteps, Winnie Flynn worked for the family from 1891-1893.  The last servant was an Irish girl named Sarah Rafferty in the 1900s.  The three girls probably had similar duties with keeping house, cooking, and cleaning.  Not long after Sarah was hired, Charles passed away in 1904.  Leaving his wife, daughter, and possibly a nephew alone in the house, the remaining Watsons stayed in the house until 1909 when they sold 223 Cooper Street to the Woodward family.

The rest of 223 Cooper Street’s story has hole throughout the research as it was difficult to find information on when the families where in the house, how many people lived there, and what their jobs were.  Edward and Elvira Woodward had lived in Camden for quite some time before moving into 223 Cooper Street.  They had previously lived at 523 Linden Street since their marriage in 1876.  The Woodwards had one son, Edwin Woodward, who was born in 1880.  When Edward passed away in 1915, Elvira and her son remained in the house until 1923, when Elvira later moved from 223 Cooper Street to the Helene Apartments just down the street.

When Elvira Woodward moved, the Hughes family purchased the home.  The Hughes family consisted of Dr. Thomas E. Hughes, a physician, his wife, Justine, and their son, Thomas E. Jr.  Their son is only listed in one city directory dated 1931, listed as a student.  Dr. Hughes passed away in 1940; however Justine remained in the house until at least 1947, when the city directory ends.  Following the Hughes family, Joseph and Ester DeLuca moved into the home.  All that is known about this couple is that they passed away in their final home located in Clementon, New Jersey, just minutes from Camden.  By the 1950s, 223 Cooper Street was donated to Rutgers as a fraternity house for Kappa Sigma Upsilon.  Today, however, the house no longer stands.  In place of the once beautiful home are now dormitories for the University of Rutgers Camden, New Jersey students.

Sources:

Camden County Historical Society City Directories

Ancestry.com census information, marriage records, birth records and death records.

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