Casper
Hart


THOMAS CASSEN HART, who was known popularly in his time as Casper Hart, was a member of the Camden Police Department from 1886 through 1893 and again from 1899 until his death in March of 1910. He was appointed from and served in Camden's Fifth Ward, which was from Line Street to Liney Ditch (just below Everett Street) and from the Delaware River to Fourth Street, and included the Kaighn's Point Ferry and the then very busy Kaighn Avenue business district. This area in more recent times was known as Foggy Bottom.

Casper Hart was born in Pennsylvania in January of 1848 to John and Elizabeth Hart. He wed in the early 1870s, and his wife Sarah bore two children, Elise, and Fred J. Hart in Pennsylvania. The family moved to Camden in the late 1870s. A daughter, Kate, was born in New Jersey around 1878. The 1880 Census shows the family living at 1142 South Front Street in Camden's Fifth Ward. Casper Hart's 

occupation was given as fisherman. The family then included Casper (listed as "Thos. C. Hart", Sarah, Elise, Fred J., Kate, and Casper Hart's widowed mother, Elizabeth Hart, then 70, as well as a boarder, James Laage. By the spring of 1884 Casper Hart had moved to 109 Kaighn Avenue and opened an oyster restaurant with his wife Sarah. By the spring of 1885 he was back to working on the Delaware, this time as a pilot, while his wife tended to the restaurant. By the time the 1887 City Directory was compiled, the Harts had moved to 1102 South 3rd Street. The family had moved to 1132 South Front Street by 1890. During this time he became active in local politics in the Fifth Ward as a Republican.

On August 25, 1886 T. Casper Hart was appointed to the Camden Police Department by then Mayor Jesse Pratt. He served until June of 1893, when he was let go as part of a mass purge of Republican-affiliated policemen by the Democrat party. During this time he was involved in two well-publicized murder cases, one, when he apprehended Dominico Cocco, who had murdered his sister-in-law at Cedar Brook, and another, when he discovered the body of Ella Ford in a cellar in the 800 block of Locust Street.

T. Casper Hart was still living at 1132 South Front Street as late as the spring of 1892. By the end of 1893 he had moved to 1219 Hyde Park, a small street that ran south for one block from Kaighn Avenue between South 2nd and South 3rd Streets. He worked as a boxman for J.F. Dalrymple and by the spring of 1894 and into 1895 was making his home at 123 Kaighn Avenue. By the end of 1898 he had moved to 229 Kaighn Avenue, and was working as a salesman. He was still at that address in 1899, but moved by the following spring 

In January of 1898, T. Casper Hart served as a member of the jury in the trial of Mrs. Florence McCusker, who was accused of shooting her husband to death in November of the previous year.

In September of 1899 T. Casper Hart was re-appointed to the Camden Police Department. The 1900 Census shows that T. Casper and Sarah Hart had separated. He and his son Edward, then 16, were boarding at 273 Kaighn Avenue, the home of John Osborne and family. 

In 1904 T, Casper Hart was granted a divorce from his wife. In 1905 he fell and was injured while on duty. He was then living on Newton Avenue. Before the decade ended, Casper Hart had remarried, and bought a house at 278 Mount Vernon Street.

On March 31, 1910 T. Casper Hart died as a result of injuries sustained while in the performance of his duties as a Camden police officer. On March 26, 1910 he was riding in the rear of the patrol wagon, taking a prisoner to jail, when the wagon was struck in the rear by a streetcar at Broadway and Benson Street. Officer Hart was thrown 20 feet. He sustained a punctured lung and a skull fracture, which took his life five days later. This appears to be the first line of duty fatality sustained by the Camden Police Department. 

T. Casper Hart was survived by his wife, Emma V. Hart. He was buried at Harleigh Cemetery in Camden.


Philadelphia Inquirer - August 26, 1886


Casper Hart - Jesse Pratt


Philadelphia Inquirer - January 16, 1888


Marwood Derrickson - William Drake - T. Casper Hart
South 7th Street - Sycamore Street


Philadelphia Inquirer - May 31, 1890

Mayhew Press - Casper Hart - Jesse Pratt


Philadelphia Inquirer - May 30, 1891

COCCO SAFELY JAILED 
The Italian Murderer Captured on His Return to Camden. 
HIDING ALL NIGHT IN THE WOODS 
After Thrusting the Stiletto Into the Heart of His Sister-in-Law
He Coolly Changes His Clothes to Escape Identification

After spending a night in the woods between Camden. and Atlantic counties, Dominico Fellippo Cocco, who murdered his sister-in-law at Cedar Brook, about eighteen miles from Camden, on Saturday night, as told in yesterday's Inquirer, was arrested yesterday morning.

Cocco is 29 years of age and lived in Italy until last December, when he came' here with his young bride and a babe. With his scanty earnings as a street sweep the young couple lived happily in the Italian quarter on Carpenter Street, until the last January, when the couple had a quarrel, which ended in their separation. 

Mrs. Cocco, with her babe, then took refuge with her parents and sister, who live at Cedar Brook, which is near the Winslow Junction, on the Camden and. Atlantic Railroad. Here she remained until Saturday night, when she was removed to the Camden City Hall as a witness to the tragedy in which her sister Giovanna Torra was the victim and her husband the murderer.

MURDER EVIDENTLY PREMEDITATED

Saturday evening Cocco, with a bundle on his arm, went to Cedar Brook. Leaving the bundle in the station he proceeded to the home of his mother-in-law, Rosalia Torra. Words with his wife precipitated a family row, during which he threatened to kill his father-in-law. The latter went for an officer in company with Carlos Santarlio, who bad met Cocco at the railroad station.

Cocco then turned to his wile and in his native language shouted, "I am going to cut your head off and send it to the King if Italy.” He was about to strike her, when Giovanna stepped in to protect her sister. By this time the trio had got on the outside of the house. When about forty yards away Cocco made another grab for his wife. Giovanna again came to the rescue of her sister. She grappled with him and was struggling with him about the little garden patch, when suddenly Cocco placed the hand arund the girl's shoulders and with his right hand drew a keen-edged stiletto from his pocket. With all the force he sent the instrument into the girl's side.

This blow failed to do its work and Cocco then plunged the stiletto again into her body, this time through her heart. With a shriek and a groan the girl dropped dead at his feet. The murderer then fled to the railroad station, where he secured the bundle which he had secreted. Out of this he took a pair of overalls, a jumper, and a slouch hat. The overalls and jumper he placed over his other clothing. The cap which he wore when he committed the murder he discarded. After disguising himself he ran to the next station below Cedar Brook, where he took a train for Ellwood.

HIDING IN THE WOODS

The balance of the night he spent hiding in the woods at that place. Yesterday morning he took a train at Ellwood and came to the Camden station of the Philadelphia and Atlantic City Railroad, where he was captured by Policeman Casper Hart. Cocco offered no resistance. He was taken to the City Hall, where he was brought before his wife in the private apartments of Superintendent Moffet.

“Do you know that man?” asked Mr. Moffett of the woman. She threw up both her hands and commenced to weep. Between her sobs she would mutter the name of Dominico. She almost went frantic with fear that he would injure her.

The murderer, cool and collected, was, taken before Mayor Pratt, to whom he admitted the murder, but claimed it was committed in self defense, at the same time displaying a cut on the head, which he claimed was inflicted by the girl with an axe. He was then about to demonstrate the manner in which he stabbed Giovanna wben his wife became hysterical and rushed into the Mayor's private office, where on her knees she appealed for protection from the man who had taken her sister’s life. All of the witnesses discounted the claim of Cocco that he committed he deed in self-defense.

The remain of the murdered girl were placed in an ice box in the Camden Morgue yesterday. She was 17 years of age and strikingly handsome. There are no marks of violence on her face or body. The fatal stab wound on the surface of the skin looked to be only about an inch and a quarter long. County Physician Iszard says the stiletto must have plunged into the breast at least six or eight inches. All of the witnesses have been held in $1,000 bail to appear at court. Coroner Jefferis has charge of the case and will hold an inquest the latter part of the week.

 

Philadelphia Inquirer - January 27, 1893

...continued...

Ella Ford - Charles Wesley Law - Rebecca Price - Ella Price - William Johnson
John Foster - T. Casper Hart - Samuel Dodd - Dr. William H. Iszard
Edward E. Jefferis - Richard S. Ridgway
Locust Street - Pine Street - Cherry Street


Philadelphia Inquirer - June 2, 1893


Edward Cooper - Samuel Bakley - William H. Butts - Harry Mines
William Whalen - George Cooper - Casper Hart - Benjamin Middleton
Louis Heffer - Rufus Bright -Thomas Smith - William Lightcap


Philadelphia Inquirer - June 7, 1893

Harry B. Paul - Edward Cooper - Samuel Bakley - William H. Butts - Harry Mines
Isaac McKinley
- John Pratt - James Oscar Weaver - Samuel Paul
William D. Comley - Casper Hart - Benjamin Middleton - Jacob Woodsides
O. Glen Stackhouse - Frank Matlack - John Dall - James Rutledge - Amer Green
Edward Richardson - Harry L. Duffee - Michael Bradley - John E. Dunn
Thomas Murphy - John Logan - William Orcutt - Patrick Clark - Joseph Sloan 


Philadelphia Inquirer
September 26, 1899

Cooper B. Hatch
William Lyons
William Thompson
A. Lincoln James
Isaac Toy
James Tatem
Casper Hart
Thomas Brothers
George Purnell
John Anderson
Alfred S. Snow
David Clark
Thomas Reed
Howard McPherson
Edward R. Thomas
John Zane
William Horner


Philadelphia Inquirer
February 3, 1904

O. Glen Stackhouse
South 3rd Street
Kaighn Avenue


Bridgeton Evening News * November 21, 1904


Philadelphia Inquirer - February 13, 1905
South 3rd Street - Newton Avenue - Kaighn Avenue

Philadelphia Inquirer
August 30, 1905

 

Casper Hart
Thomas Brothers
George Schu
John Schu
South 2nd Street
Chestnut Street
Kaighn's Point Ferry


Philadelphia Inquirer - September 24, 1905
Hyde Park - South 2nd Street - Kaighn Avenue - West Jersey Hospital

Philadelphia Inquirer - March 5, 1906

William J. Sewell - Mount Vernon Street - John Foster
Charles H. Ellis - Ionic Lodge of Masons
First Italian Republican Club - Tall Cedars of Lebanon
Improved Order of Red Men - John Carroll - John R. Campbell
Rev. Gilbert Underhill - St. John's Episcopal Church
Elisha Albert Gravenor
- John Brothers - Maurice A. Rogers
George Hammond - Joseph Nowrey - Albert Shaw
Thomas Brothers - Camillus Appley - Robert Colkett
Jules Bosch - Thomas J. Murphy - Harry Mines 
  
George Kappel - George Kleaver - Albert Snow - Casper Hart 
Fifth Ward Republican Club - Arthur Stanley - William Horner
Aaron Matlack - Third Street - Walnut Street - Broadway
Benson Street
- Haddon Avenue - City Hall - Harleigh Cemetery  

Philadelphia Inquirer - March 27, 1910
 

Philadelphia Inquirer - March 31, 1910
 

Philadelphia Inquirer - April 1, 1910
Broadway - Benson Street - Mount Vernon Street

Philadelphia Inquirer - April 2, 1910
Broadway - Benson Street

Philadelphia Inquirer
April 2 & April 3, 1910

Philadelphia Inquirer - April 4, 1910
Charles H. Ellis - T. Casper Hart - James Lewis


Philadelphia Inquirer
April 5, 1910

Elisha Gravenor - Albert Shaw
Lewis Stehr - James Oscar Weaver
Harry Mines -
T. Casper Hart
Mount Vernon Street
Improved Order of Red Men

Rev. N.C. Lassiter
Emmanuel Baptist Church


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