The
Copliein Family
Of
Camden NJ

The Lives and Times of a Jewish Family
in Camden, New Jersey

This is another in a series of pages about some of the Jewish families that lived and thrived in Camden beginning around 1880. So many of these families had multiple members who were notably involved in different aspects of life in the city, and over time I have found that many of these families were related either through marriage or business dealings.

Needless to say these these pages are open to participation by the descendants of the families mentioned.... as a rule they are inspired by e-mail I've received from one or more family members. If you see something in error or feel that something should be added, PLEASE contact me via e-mail sop it can be added. Like everything else on this website, and in our lives, it's a work in progress. I welcome all comments, criticisms, and contributions..... pictures are more than welcome. Feel free to contact me by e-mail 

Phil Cohen, Camden NJ

The Coplein family had established itself in Camden by 1890, Samuel Coplein having come to the United States from Russia in 1888. The were among the first Jewish families to come to Camden. By 1890 Samuel Coplein and his Sarah had a store at 626 Kaighn Avenue, then a bustling thoroughfare with many retail stores, restaurants, and taverns. The Copleins were well respected by their neighbors as an industrious and hard-working family. By July of 1893 three children, Henry and twins Meyer and Mamie, had arrived. However, things took a drastic turn on the night of July 27, 1893.  

Camden Daily Telegram - July 28, 1893



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Philadelphia Inquirer - July 29, 1893
Click on Images for Complete Article

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Lizzie Copliein - Stanley Murray - Walter Campbell - Charles A. Jordan - Francis Crossley 
Chief of Police William H. Davis - Thomas Guthridge - Lieutenant John S. Smith - James Morrison
James Kelly - Foltz's Saloon - Toone & Hollinshed
Kaighn Avenue - Sycamore Street -
South 7th Street - Baring 7th Street - Chestnut Street

Camden Democrat - July 29, 1893

The brutal murder on Thursday  night of Mrs. Coplein adds another to the already long list of Camden county crimes.  It is sincerely hoped that the victim will not go unavenged.

Camden Democrat - July 29, 1893

Mrs. Sarah Coplein, of 626 Kaighn Avenue was shot and instantly killed on Tuesday night by an unknown negro who entered the gentsí furnishing store kept by her husband and committed the deed without any motive.  Mrs. Coplein was twenty-eight years of age. All that is absolutely known of the crime at present is told by Mrs. Simons of 624 Kaighn Avenue, who says she saw a negro of medium height enter Mrs. Copleinís store, fire a pistol shot, and then run away across the meadows at Sixth street.  County Physician Iszard held a postmortem examination and decided that death was due to a pistol bullet which penetrated the right breast.  He ordered a Coronerís inquest.  Two colored men named Charles Vambel and Patrick Davis were immediately arrested on suspicion of having committed the brutal deed..

Philadelphia Inquirer - July 29, 1893
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Philadelphia Inquirer - July 29, 1893

John Wartman - John Semple - Charles G. Garrison

Camden Daily Telegram - August 1, 1893
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John Semple - Sarah Coplein

West Jersey Press - August 2, 1893

Another Murder

 Charles Jordan, colored, entered the store of Mrs. Sara Coplein, 626 Kaighn avenue, last Thursday afternoon, and in a few minutes the report of a pistol was heard and the man was seen to come out of the store and run down the street. Those who heard the report went into the store immediately and found Mrs. Coplein lying dead on the floor with a bullet hole in her left breast, death having been instantaneous, and the postmortem examination showed that the ball had penetrated the lung, severed the pulmonary artery and lodged in the back bone.

 Jordan for a time made good his escape, as the whole thing was done so quickly that no one thought of stopping him until it was too late. He was eventually captured in a barn in Gloucester City, by Chief of Police Davis and his assistants through information received from another colored man, and brought to this city before Police Justice Paul, to whom he admitted having committed the crime. He stole the revolver from James Kelley, a bartender in a down town saloon; and claims that he took it to Mrs. Coplein with the view of selling it to her, and that while he was showing her its mechanism the weapon was accidentally discharged with the above fatal result.

How much of his story is true remains to be seen but the very short time he was in the store rather throws doubt on Jordanís theory, while the fact that he was known to entertain unfriendly feelings towards Mrs. Coplein because of  her having once been instrumental in securing is imprisonment, still further complicates his statements. Jordan also has a bad record in the city and county criminal courts.

  Mrs. Coplein and her husband lived together in the building over the store and they have two children, one and four years old respectively. They are thoroughly respectable and peaceable people and are respected by their neighbors and why Jordan should desire to kill Mrs. Coplein, except through revenge for her having testified against him in court, is as yet a mystery. He will remain in his cell in county jail until the whole matter is ferreted out.

Camden Democrat - August 5, 1893

IN AND ABOUT TOWN

Mrs. Jordan visited her son Charles A. Jordan, accused of the murder of Mrs. Coplein, in the county jail to-day.

Camden Democrat - August 5, 1893

The Coronerís jury in the Coplein murder has charged the negro Charles Jordan with the crime. Jordan has confessed to the deed of which he is accused and all that remains for the state to do is to legally determine the motive which prompted and the frame of mind which accompanied the homicide.  Jordan, in admitting the shooting, declared that he had stolen a pistol from a saloon of which he was a habituť and carried it into the store for the purpose of disposing of it for money for a drink. 

Before going into the store he took the precaution to snap the hammer for the purpose of determining whether or not the weapon was loaded.  Having satisfied himself that it was not he exhibited it to Mrs. Coplein and offered to sell it. Snapping it for the purpose of demonstrating the effectiveness of the spring of the pistol, it suddenly discharged, and Mrs. Coplein received a wound which proved fatal.  This, in substance, is Jordanís story. And it is significant that it is the ďonlyĒ story which bears perfectly on the motive which prompted and the frame of mind which accompanied the act.  

The Stateís officers profess to have evidence in their possession which tends to prove that their may have been bad feeling between the prisoner and Mrs. Coplein because of the robbing of her store some months ago, in which robbery the defendant was implicated, and for which he served a slight sentence in the county jail. It will require a mightier effort than that shown at most murder trials to pass sentence of death upon a man upon no better foundation than that. Jordan may have been a black-hearted murder.  He may have entered the store of Mrs. Coplein with the sole and express purpose of shooting to death the victim of the tragedy.  He may have been of such a vindictive mind as to require no greater motive to murder the defenseless woman than mere ill-feeling for causing his conviction of a crime.  He may be all this and infinitely more, but so far as his counsel. 

Lawyer John Wartman well observes, there is no proof of the fact, for everything has been told of the shooting or of the motive comes from the defendant himself.  The correct attitude for all intelligent citizens of the county is that judicial one which deems the defendant innocent until his guilt is judiciously proved.  It is not only very suggestive of an ill-balanced mind to pass unqualified judgment on a partial or ex-parte state of facts, but not at all seemly in one who is called to do duty on trial jury which may have the deliverance of life and death in its behest.

Philadelphia Inquirer - October 11, 1893
Charles G. Garrison

Philadelphia Inquirer - October 24, 1893
 

Philadelphia Inquirer - October 31, 1893
Charles G. Garrison - Kaighn Avenue

Philadelphia Inquirer - November 7, 1893
 

 

Charles Jordan was tried and acquitted of murdering Sarah Coplein. He reportedly was later sentenced to life in prison for another crime, where he reportedly took his own life. Samuel Coplein remarried. His second wife, Mary, bore him three children by June of 1900, Harry, Annie, and Rosie. The Coplein remained at 626 Kaighn Avenue. Samuel Coplein, who had originally been a dealer in second-hand merchandise, had by 1900 gone into mens clothing. 

1900 Census

 

Mary Coplein bore two more children, Sarah and Ida, before she passed away in 1906. Samuel Coplein again married. His new wife, Bessie, had recently arrived from Russia, and another child, Lillian, came by the time of the 1910 Census. By this time Henry Coplein was working in the family business. Brother Michael was working as a laborer at a woolen mill, probably the Howland Croft mill on Broadway at Winslow Street.

1910 Census
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When America entered World War I, the three Coplein sons all registered for the draft. When they registered, on June 5, 1917, Henry was still working in the family store, and Meyer was still at Howland Croft. Younger brother Harry worked as a printer at the Farr & Bailey oilcloth works. 

COPLEAN BESSIE Camden (City or County) 11 bur 3 1937 60 New Camden J Sons of Israel. A-3 from centre Carcinoma of stomach
COPLEIN MARY 626 Kaighns Av., Camden 10 bur 27 1906 37 New Camden Sons of Israel    .::. Apoplexy
COPLEIN SAMUEL 626 Kaighns, Camden 12 15 1933 65 Heart attack

 

 

 

World War I Draft Card - Henry Coplein

World War I Draft Card - Meyer Coplein

World War I Draft Card - Harry Coplein

1920 Census
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1930 Census
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World War iI Draft Card - Henry Coplein
Click on Image to Enlarge

World War i I Draft Card - Henry Coplein
Click on Image to Enlarge

World War i I Draft Card - Henry Coplein
Click on Image to Enlarge

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