HARRY BATCHELDER was born in Pennsylvania on May 4, 1876 to George Wshington Batchelder and his wife Ellen Batchelder. George W. Batchelder then worked in a woolen mill. The family was living in Philadelphia when the 1880 census was taken, Harry was the oldest child, followed by brothers Samuel and George. By 1887 the family had moved to 1116 Federal Street in Camden. By the following year the Batchelder family had moved to 928 Carpenter Street, where they resided through 1891. During these years George Batchelder worked as a cloth presser. By the end of the decade George and Ellen Batchelder had moved to 1024 Carpenter Street. By that time Harry Batchelder had married and started a family of his own.
The 1900 Census shows Harry Batchelder working as a produce salesman and living with his wife Emma at 1156 Linden Street. There was an infant son, Henry. One other child sadly had died by the time the Census was taken. The census states he was born in 1866, this however is in error, as several later records are consistent with the 1876 birth. Oddly enough, when he registered for the draft in Camden in September of 1918 it was stated that he was born in New Jersey.
By 1905 Harry Batchelder was working as a musician. The city directory for that year shows him living at 1006 Carpenter Street. His mother either his father or brother George were still living at 1024 Carpenter Street. Ellen Batchelder was still at that address as late as 1914. Harry Batchelder does not appear in the 1910 census in Camden or the 1911, 1912, or 1914 City Directories. A 1910 news article from Fort Wayne, Indiana refers to a visiting vaudevillian, Harry Batchelder, and his wife, visiting the city. Harry and Emma Batchelder may well have been on the road during these years. By 1918, however, they had returned to Camden, and had bought a house at 419 Haddon Avenue. The Batchelders were still at that address in 1921.
Things unraveled for Harry Batchelder in August of 1921. Newspaper accounts of that time stated that "Batchelder bore an excellent reputation" and that "He was widely known as a musician. He performed on bells and xylophone and appeared frequently in vaudeville comedy sketches. He staged a number of theatrical enterprises of his own in this and other cities." On August 27, 1921 Harry Batchelder shot and killed a Camden constable, William Cramer, who was attempting to repossess Batchelder's car.
While there was no doubt as to who did the shooting, there appears to have been some doubt surrounding the circumstances. Harry Batchelder was sentenced to six to nine years imprisonment. By the time the 1927 Camden City Directory was compiled, he had been released, and had gone back to work as a musician in Camden. Harry and Emma Batchelder remained at 419 Haddon Avenue through at least 1930.
Camden Daily Courier - August 28, 1921
DIES OF WOUNDS;
Constable William Cramer, of 647 Willard Street, died at 9:00 this morning in the City Hospital, Atlantic City, from wounds sustained when he was shot three times yesterday afternoon by Harry Batchelder, vaudeville actor, 45 years old, of 419 Haddon Avenue.
Cramer was serving a writ of attachment from the Camden County District Court when shot by Batchelder. The latter was arrested at midnight by Captain of Detectives William Schregler and City Detective Fiore Troncone at Audubon. He will be taken to Cape May Court House late today for a preliminary hearing on a charge of murder preferred by Sheriff Tomlin, of Cape May County.
Batchelder says he shot Cramer when the constable pulled a revolver on him. The Albrights say Cramer did not show a revolver and never had a chance for his life.
A forerunner of the shooting occurred Friday night when Batchelder caused the arrest of Joseph Albright for stealing his car. He was taken to police headquarters with Constable Cramer.
It was then learned that James Albright had secured a writ of attachment from the District Court Friday, and Cramer was sent out to serve it. The writ charged Batchelder owed Albright $20.00 for a tire and repairs on his machine.
Cramer said he seized the car in front of Batchelder’s home and instructed Albright to tow it to his garage. While they were towing the car to the garage, Batchelder called a policeman. He charged Albright with stealing his machine.
Gave Check, Left Headquarters
Batchelder later told Captain Schregler he did not know Cramer was a constable. He offered to settle the claim to get his car. Cramer told him the bill was $20.00 and $20.00 for costs. They agreed to settle for $30.00. Batchelder gave Cramer a check for the amount and left police headquarters with his car.
Captain Schregler learned today that Batchelder went to see a lawyer Saturday morning. The lawyer advised him to stoop payment on the check. Captain Schregler was informed Batchelder took the attorney’s advice.
After he learned payment had been
stopped, Cramer started out again Sunday to serve the writ. He was
accompanied by the Albright brothers. The three men went to
Batchelder’s home and learned he had gone to his bungalow at Tuckahoe
with his wife in an automobile. Cramer and the Albright brothers went to
Fired Five Times
“We located Batchelder in a field in his automobile about a half mile from his home” said Joseph Albright this morning.
“As we approached the machine Batchelder yelled ‘Don’t come near me!’”.
“He yelled that twice, but Cramer paid no attention to the man’s warning. Then Batchelder pulled out a revolver and fired five times at Cramer. Cramer dropped in his tracks, moaning with pain.”
Runs Away With Wife
“Batchelder started his car and ran full speed across the field. I ran after him and traced him to his bungalow on the Cape May County side of the Tuckahoe River. He and his wife jumped into a truck and drove away as I approached.”
“I ran back to my brother and Cramer and we started for Tuckahoe with the wounded man. We notified a constable in Tuckahoe about the shooting, but he said he did not want to have anything to do with the case.”
“We took Cramer to a drug store and the druggist told us he did not want to treat him. Then we drove as fast as our car could take us to ocean City. Cramer was growing weaker every minute. We took him to the office of Dr. Allen Corson. He advised us to take Cramer to the hospital in Atlantic City. We then drove to that city.”
Cramer was operated on last night at the City Hospital. He failed to regain consciousness until he died at 9:00 this morning. Two bullets were taken from his abdomen, and one from his right wrist. Two of the bullets fired by Batchelder evidently went wild.
The Atlantic City police notified Camden and Cape May County authorities. Every Roadway in South Jersey was watched throughout Sunday afternoon and night.
Captain Schregler and Detective Troncone learned that Batchelder had friends in Audubon. They went to the home of Harry Grow, 315 Chestnut Avenue. They found Batchelder and his wife at that address. Batchelder was immediately arrested and taken to police headquarters. Sheriff Tomlin, at Cape May Court House, was notified today and started for Camden to take the slayer to Cape May for trial.
Cramer, 65 Years Old, In Poor Health
Cramer was 65 years old and had long been a sufferer from asthma. He leaves a wife, one son and one daughter. His wife was told about the shooting last night and hurried to Atlantic City. She was with him when he died.
The slain man had been attached to the District Court three years. He was appointed constable three years ago and elected last fall for a term of five years from the Tenth Ward on the Republican ticket.
Cramer had gained a reputation for fearlessness in the performance of his duty. He figured in a duel with Constable Zinger in the Highland section a year ago over the serving of a writ.
He later was charged with assault and battery on a woman, whose piano he seized on a District Court writ. Cramer said the woman tried to stop him from taking the piano by sitting on top of it. He ordered the moving men, whom he employed to take the instrument, to push it out of her parlor into the doorway. As they did she was knocked from the top of the piano. The case never went to court.
Batchelder Had Good Reputation
Batchelder bore an excellent reputation up until the time of the shooting. He was widely known as a musician. He performed on bells and xylophone and appeared frequently in vaudeville comedy sketches. He staged a number of theatrical enterprises of his own in this and other cities.
Camden Daily Courier - August 29, 1921
REFUTE BATCHELDER PLEA OF SELF DEFENSE
Harry Batchelder, vaudeville actor, of this city, charged with murdering Constable William T. Cramer, while the constable was attempting to attach Batchelder’s automobile.
Batchelder was taken to Cape May Court House late yesterday by Sheriff Tomlin and Constable Newkirk.
The accused man will plead self-defense, it was learned today.
“Yes I shot him, but to protect my life,” said the prisoner to Captain of Detectives Schregler and Detective Troncone, when he was arrested in Audubon. He declined to discuss the case further. Samuel M. Shay has been engaged as his counsel.
No Revolver On Cramer
Though Batchelder insists Cramer pointed a revolver at him, the fact is refuted by John and Joseph Albright, Camden garage owners, who accompanied Cramer n his visit to Tuckahoe, and by the fact that no revolver was found on his body.
The brothers, who had obtained a judgment against Batchelder for repairs to his car, declare as Cramer approached, Batchelder cried:
”Don’t come near me!”
Cramer, however, ignored the warning and Batchelder at once began firing.
According to an autopsy performed by County Physician Souder, of Atlantic County, the bullets perforated Cramer’s lungs, heart, and abdomen.
Belated Medical Aid
Three hours elapsed before Cramer, bleeding profusely from the bullet wounds, received medical attention. This was due to the remoteness of hospitals from the scene of the shooting. Cramer was finally brought to the Atlantic City Hospital at 7:00, although the shooting occurred about 4:00.
The shooting was the result of a dispute over a claim of $20.00 for repairs to the automobile of Batchelder.
It was reported Batchelder had been advised he was immune from attachment proceedings because he was in a county other than the one in which judgment had been obtained against him.
Cramer, however, was proceeding under the garage lien act, which would enable him to seize the car in any part of the State.
Batchelder will be tried in Cape May County, as the shooting occurred there. Cape May officials said today they will press for a verdict of murder in the first degree in his case. They pointed out that the Statutes hold that a person killing an officer in pursuance of his duty is guilty of first degree murder.
Camden Daily Courier - September 2, 1921
CONSTABLE CRAMER IS BURIED AT CATASAUQUA
Large crowds of friends if Constable William F. Cramer, 647 Willard Street, who was fatally wounded on Sunday by Harry Batchelder, an actor, while seizing his car under the garage lien law, called last night at the funeral parlors of B.F. Schroeder & Sons to view the body.
The Tenth Ward Republican Club last evening marched in a body to the undertaking parlors.
He is survived by his widow, Mrs. Velma Lena Cramer, and he was 61 years old. They had been married thirty-eight years.
The interment was made this morning at Catasauqua PA, where services took place upon the arrival of the body. Reverend John B. Carpenter, assistant pastor of North Baptist Church, was in charge of the service in Camden.
October 29, 1921
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