John
G.
Opfer


 

JOHN GEORGE OPFER was born November 10, 1890 in Camden NJ to John and Katie Opfer. His grandfather, also named John Opfer, work as carpenter for the Pennsylvania Railroad. His father worked as a laborer. The family lived at 540 North Front Street in the early 1890s. After his grandfather died, his grandmother, Margaret Opfer, conducted a grocery there for a time. By the end of the 1890s his father had moved the family to 423 North Front Street, where he operated a saloon from the 1890s through at least 1910.

John G. Opfer was working as molder and living at home at the time the 1910-1911 Camden City Directory was compiled, and was still unmarried. Over the next few year he wed, and secured a position with the Camden Police Department. When he registered for the draft in June of 1917 he was living with his wife Catherine at 112 Pearl Street. He had already served three years as a private with the Third Regiment, New Jersey National Guard by this time, however it does not appear that he was called to active duty during World War I. A son, John E. Opfer, was born around the time he registered for the draft.

 By 1920 John G. Opfer and family had moved around the corner to 423 North 2nd Street. By 1930 John G. Opfer was working as a detective for the Camden Police Department. The family still lived at 423 North 2nd Street, near the corner of North 2nd and Pearl Streets, and would remain there into the 1950s.

John G. Opfer was still working with the Camden Police Department when he registered for the draft in 1942. His son, John E. Opfer, had joined the Camden Police department on September 23, 1940. Sadly, John G. Opfer passed away by 1947.


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Camden Courier-Post - October 21, 1931

What Do YOU Think?

By CHARLEY HUMES  

 We hear that City Detective Johnny (Bumps) Opfer has been suspended from the house committee of the First Ward Republican Club because he made some of his famous snapper soup for another Republican club in town .... Your soupíll taste better'n ever now, Johnny .... And every club in the city will request you do them the favor of making some for their members .... And the man responsible for your discomfiture has not made any friends by his move...

Camden Courier-Post - March 19, 1932

What Do YOU Think?

By CHARLEY HUMES

 ... Detective Benjamin Simon recently lost two gold teeth on a small bridge .... And with crime at a minimum the past week the entire detective force have been invoked in the search for them .... I wonder if Johnny Opfer is gonna make any of his famous snapper soup for the First Ward pig roast? .... There's a budding romance on the top floor of one of the city's skyscrapers (There's only three you know, so that ought to be easy) .... I've been told about a recent offer of $150 to three children of a man killed in the line of duty ... This is in full settlement for the man's death, which came by no fault of his own .... I'm wondering if the company making the offer can really afford it .... Even though it will be denied Philly is wide open .... And beer as plentiful there as in Camden ... What Philadelphia councilman staged a wide-open party at a certain Republican club Thursday night .... And transported the entire ensemble of a Philadelphia burlesk house to the place for his guests entertainment. ... See you later. 


Camden Courier-Post - June 13, 1933

SLEUTH BACK ON DUTY

After an enforced idleness of several weeks due to the amputation of one of his fingers, Detective Robert Ashenfelter returned to duty last night at detective headquarters.

Patrolman John Opfer, assigned to the detective division to fill Ashenfelter's place during his absence, has been transferred back to uniform duty, Acting Police Chief John W. Golden announced the change last night.


Camden Courier-Post - June 24, 1933

Stricken by Food in Camden Factory

Two girl employees of the RCA Victor Company who are among nearly 100 persons suffering from ptomaine poisoning as the result of eating from "box lunches." Miss Clara Schaeffer, left, of Gloucester, and Miss Violetta Brown, Brooklawn, were confined to their beds at their homes last night after receiving treatment at Cooper Hospital.

60 OVERCOME WHILE AT WORK IN  RCA VICTOR; PROBE STARTED
New York Ship Employees Sent to Hospital From Ptomaine
WORKERS OF 4 FIRMS LISTED AMONG VICTIMS
Sandwiches Served by Philadelphia Caterer Believed to Be Responsible

Nearly 100 Camden factory and shipyard workers were poisoned yesterday after eating food contained in box lunches.

More than 60 of the workers, stricken at their machines in. the RCA Victor Company plants, were rushed to the company's dispensary and local hospitals. Many are reported in serious condition.

At the New York Shipbuilding Company others became ill after partaking of the lunches. Four are in West. Jersey Homeopathic Hospital recovering from the effects of the poisoned food. At least three more were stricken at the leather plant of the John R. Evans Company, Second and Erie Streets.

In Philadelphia more than a score of laundry workers were carried to physicians and hospitals, all said to be victims of contaminated foods. Physicians believed all would recover.

Dr. David D. Helm, city sanitary inspector, believed the ptomaine condition resulted from the eating of egg sandwiches.

Dr. Helm, along with Sergeant Rox Saponare and detectives, last night questioned Ray Konst, 3313 D Street, Philadelphia, owner of a Philadelphia box lunch concern.

Put Ban on Sales

Following the quizzing, Konst was ordered to refrain from further selling of the box lunches in Camden, pending the result of an investigation. He also must obtain complete approval from the Philadelphia Board of Health before being allowed to resume operations here. 

The boxes, distributed by Konst, are labeled "The Majestic Lunch." Konst declared that never before had complaint reached him as to the quality of his food. 

"I have ordered distribution of Majestic Lunches in Camden be stopped," Dr. Helm said, "until the investigation has been completed and the health authorities in Philadelphia to whom all evidence will be given because they supervise this company, give them a clean bill of health."            

Two of the box lunches have been obtained by police and will be chemically analyzed today by order of Dr. A. L. Stone, city health officer.

Konst assured police he would assist in any manner possible to learn the source and nature of the foodstuff causing the illness.

Woman First Victim

'The first illness occurred shortly after 3 p. m. at the RCA Victor plant. A young woman was overcome after partaking of a glass of water. She was taken to the dispensary where Dr. Reuben L. Sharp said she was suffering from ptomaine poisoning. 

Within a short time several other girls and men in various sections of the plant were stricken. Some fainted at their machines and had to be carried to the dispensary.

Soon Dr. Sharp and his staff of nurses had more than, they could handle. Private automobiles were pressed into service and many of the victims taken to Cooper Hospital, where stomach pumps were used to clear their bodies of the poisonous food.

One man, B. H. Poole, 40, of 144 North Sixtieth street, Philadelphia, was admitted and his condition described as serious.

Others were treated and sent to their homes, where many were at≠tended last night by their personal physicians.

Girl Describes Scene

Miss Clara. Shaeffer, 19, of 226 South Fifth Street, Gloucester, employed at the RCA Victor, told of the scenes near her shortly before she became ill and was rushed to Cooper Hospital for treatment.

"I saw many of the girls running upstairs to the restroom," Miss Schaeffer said at her home, where she is confined to bed, "but paid little attention to them, although several had to be assisted up the steps.

"Suddenly I felt sick at my stomach and had a desire for a drink of water. I asked the girl next to me to get me a drink, but she was unable to leave her machine at the time and I walked to the fountain.

"After taking the drink everything seemed to whirl about and I thought I was going to faint. I told my foreman and he ordered me taken to the dispensary.

"When I arrived there the place was filled and someone took me to Cooper Hospital, where the doctor gave me some medicine and I was taken to my home."

Miss Schaeffer said she grew worse after she arrived home and her parents summoned a physician.

Fall at Machines

Others told similar stories of the scenes as worker after worker was stricken. Plant officials said many had fallen where they stood, the ptomaine attack seizing them so suddenly they had no time to summon aid. 

Konst told Detectives Benjamin Simon and John Opfer that he sells more than 200 box lunches in Camden daily. He has agents at the RCA plants, New York Shipyard and at the leather companies.

He also sells more than 500 box lunches daily in Philadelphia.

The lunch yesterday was made up of a cheese sandwich, an egg and lettuce sandwich, a piece of apple pie, cupcake and fruit. Some of the lunches contained tuna fish sandwiches.

Man's Condition Serious

According to Dr. Helm, all of those taken ill had eaten the egg sandwiches, some had partaken of the tuna fish and others of the cheese.

One man became ill when he ate half an egg sandwich given him by a fellow employee late in the afternoon. 

The laundry workers affected were employed at the Forrest Laundry, 1225 West Columbia Avenue, Philadelphia.

One of these, John Gilligan, 52, of 1923 East Willard Street, was taken to St. Luke's and Children's Homeopathic Hospital in a critical condition. 

Police were checking other hospitals to learn if additional victims were unreported. 


Camden Courier-Post - June 24, 1933

Partial List Of Poisoned

A partial list of the nearly 100 persons poisoned by food at local factories yesterday follows:

  RCA VICTOR EMPLOYEES:

Treated at Dispensary:

Barbara White, 3136 North Twenty-ninth Street, Philadelphia.

Vera White, 825 North Sixth Street, Philadelphia.

E. B. Bauers, 1255 Kenwood Avenue.

Mary Mossman, 3163 Amber Street, Philadelphia.

Anna Cullen, 2124 Memphis Street, Philadelphia.

Clyde Lape, 562 Mickle Street .

WIlliam H. Scott, 222 Crestmont Terrace, Collingswood.

M. E. Wagner, 581 Carman Street.

A. Burman, 1466 Kenwood Avenue.

Miss M. Brennan, 2141 North Dover Street, Philadelphia.

Emma Randelbach, Lindenwold,

John Derry, Camden.

Helen Shevlin, 854 South Fifth Street.  

Miss Shaefer, 2825 Amber Street, Philadelphia.

Treated at Cooper Hospital:

B. H. Poole, 40, of 144 North Sixtieth Street, Philadelphia.

Admitted to hospital.

Miss Violetta Brown, 21, Brooklawn.

Miss Clara Schaeffer, 226 South Fifth Street, Gloucester.

Dorothy Kurtz, 32, of 308 Penn Street.

Alfred Shaefer, 42, of 932 Cooper Street.

Gertrude Carl, 17, of 820 Brown Street, Gloucester.

Peter I. Cassell, 42, of 353 East Cambria Street, Philadelphia.

Willard Stipezell, 25, of 3918 Camden Avenue.

Frank Di Nardo, 24, of 222 Second Street, Schenectady, N. Y.

NEW YORK SHIPYARD EMPLOYEES:

Treated at West Jersey Homeopathic Hospital:

Howard Fryer, 42, of 214 Bergen Street, Gloucester.

William Shaeffer, 54, Woodbury Heights.

Philip Saponaro, 33, of, 422 Evans Street.

John Joyce, 32, of 310 Manton Street, Philadelphia. 


Camden Courier-Post - August 10, 1933

TWO ARMED MEN ROB GAS STATION AND FLEE

Two armed bandits last night held up a Camden gasoline station attendant, scooped $T from the cash register and disappeared in a maroon coupe driven by a third man.

Carlton G. Weatherby, of 1 Kings highway, Haddonfield, attendant at the Gulf station, Ferry and Mt. Ephraim avenues, reported to Detectives John Opfer and Robert Ashenfelter the two men jumped out of the car which the driver parked a short distance away on Ferry Avenue. Entering the station, they forced Weatherby to turn away from the cash register and after one of them took the money, the other struck him on the head and warned him to make no outcry. Then they ran out and disappeared. Both bandits carried steel-colored pistols. Both were of medium build and wore dark clothes.


Camden Courier-Post - August 12, 1933
HUNCH SAVES MAN $700 IN ROBBERY
Gloucester Pigeon Fancier Lured to Camden by

A "hunch" that he might be robbed early today saved Daniel Flynn, 47, an automobile accessory dealer, of Broadway and Morris street, Gloucester, a roll of about $700 he usual1y carries.

Two men lured him to a dark spot near Sixth street and Chelten avenue, through a fake telephone call. One robbed him while the other held him by the throat, but they got only $5.

A flyweight boxer in Camden in his youth, Flynn is nationally known as a pigeon fancier, founder and past president of the South Jersey Homing Pigeon Club. He received a telephone call at 12:15 a. m. A man said he was calling for a friend of Flynn, whose name he gave. He declared the friend had serious trouble with his automobile at Sixth Street and Chelten Avenue, Camden, and wanted Flynn to drive there and help him.

Suspecting it might not be well to carry much money, Flynn left all but $5 at home and drove there. He saw no car. Two men approached on foot. They directed him to a dark spot at the dead end of Sixth Street. There one of the thieves seized him by the throat, scratching his face, while the other went through his pockets. Neither displayed a weapon. Flynn said both outweighed him and he was powerless to resist.

Lights of an approaching automobile appeared, and the men took to their heels. Flynn reported to John Opfer, Camden detective, that the thieves leaped in a car parked some distance away and escaped. He gave Opfer a good description.


Camden Courier-Post * February 22, 1938

COP'S GUEST BEATEN; COLSEY PROBES ROW 
Youth 'Blackjacked' at Party; Father Retains Lawyer, to Investigate

Police Chief Arthur Colsey yesterday detailed three detectives to investigate a street row early Sunday at Fourth and Mechanic streets in which a Fairview youth and a Camden policeman were involved. 

The youth, Walter Callahan, 21, of 1375 Roanoke Road, is confined to Cooper Hospital with a slight brain concussion  and head cuts he said he received when "blackjacked" by Policeman Earl Cunningham, of 448 Mechanic street.

Chief Colsey removed Cunningham from duty yesterday afternoon pending completion of the probe. 

The investigation ordered by Colsey followed after Walter Callahan Sr., father of the youth, retained an attorney for the purpose, he said, "of getting at the bottom of this." Chief Colsey said that young Callahan had refused to talk to detectives at the hospital. 

The elder Callahan, a Gloucester druggist, said he had learned that his son was "more or less of an innocent bystander" in a row that started in the Cunningham home and that he received a "severe beating" from Cunningham and the latter's son, "Bud."

"My son went to a party at the Cunningham home," Callahan said, "and there, I am told, a row started between young Cunningham and a girl. My son objected to a remark passed to the girl and then Cunningham and his son jumped on my boy  and beat him."

"I have retained Charles A. Cogan, a Camden attorney, and have instructed him to make a thorough investigation preliminary to proceeding with court action." 

Prefers Drunk Charge 

Detectives Clifford Carr, Donald Switzer and John Opfer were named by Colsey to make an investigation for the police department. 

Cunningham, who caused a detainer to be lodged against Callahan on a charge of being drunk and disorderly; told his superiors he was forced to use his blackjack on Callahan when the youth attacked him and tore his shirt and underwear.

According to the policeman, who was off duty at the time, Callahan attended a party in the Cunningham home celebrating the policeman's wedding anniversary. Cunningham said Callahan left the house and became engaged in a noisy argument with two girls outside. He said the youth attacked him when he came out and sought to quiet Callahan. 


 

Camden Courier-Post
July 28, 1941

 

 

 

...continued...
...continued...
Manly McDowell Jr. - Col. Manly McDowell Sr. - Col. Joseph McDowell
Harry Kyler - Marshall Thompson - John G. Opfer - Heber McCord
Clifford Del Rossi - Frank Nelson

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