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When I began my work on 323 Cooper Street I had no idea what to expect. Truthfully, I picked the house because I liked the architecture. The house, one of few Queen Anne architecture examples in Camden, was built in 1886 by Hazel & Hurst, a Philadelphia-based company. Joseph C. DeLa Cour, a well known drug manufacturer, had the house built adjoining his property at 321 Cooper.

323 Cooper Street, 2013

323 Cooper Street, 2013

The property was held by Elizabeth DeLa Cour until 1890, when it was sold by Edward F. Nivin Trustee to Edward Cohn, who quickly flipped the sale in five days time and sold 323 to John J. Burleigh and his wife, Anna. The Burleighs, both first-generation Irish immigrants to New Jersey, had five children when they moved to the DeLa Cour house. John’s aunt Maria Heighton also resided with the family. Anna and John went on to have three more children while at 323, bringing the total to eight: Margaret, Elizabeth, Charles, Isabelle, Helen, Paul, Dorothy, and Frances. John provided for his family through work as a secretary and manager at Camden Lighting and Heating Company. The immense damage to the 1890 census makes this decade blurry, but the 1900 census lists the family in Pennsauken with four servants: one white woman named Mary Elizabeth Haines, one black woman named Anna M. Giles, and two black men, Abraham F Still and George F. Rock. Further research might provide better insight into when Burleigh hired these servants and if they lived and worked in 323 Cooper. There also may be further evidence of tragedy in the home, as Anna is listed in the 1900 census as having borne nine children with eight living. There is no evidence of the child’s name, and I haven’t been able to locate any baptism records thus far.

The expanding Burleigh family left the house in 1898 , John J. selling to George Barrett, president of the Rilatt & Barrett Dry Dock Co. who occupied with his wife, Sarah, and their adult children Francis “Flora” and Frank. In 1900 the Camden City Directory listed a Floyd Barrett living at the property, but no census records have been found for him. He disappears by 1904. During Floyd’s stay, Francis (“Flora”), married Edward Middleton in 1902 and left her parents’ home.

Oddly, another Frank Barrett was listed at the property in 1911- a year-old child. The elder Frank moved to 919 North 7th street and younger Frank left simultaneously, leading me to believe he may have been Frank’s son. George and Sarah continued to live in 323 until 1922. In 1923 the property was vacant, but in 1924 a new family moved in.

Francis D. Weaver and his wife Katherine, along with Francis’ single sister, Annie (or Anna, according to some records), began to occupy the house. Francis, secretary & treasurer at City Line Brick and Lumber Co., is listed at 323 Cooper as late as 1937, but I have no evidence to show that Katherine or Annie was still living or occupying the home.

The search continues for death records, servant’s papers, and more!

Mikaela Maria
Rutgers University- Camden

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