Nathan
Petit


NATHAN PETIT was born in Camden, New Jersey on February 29, 1892 to Charles H. Petit and his wife Harriet. He was named after his grandfather, who died in 1871. The Petits were from the Cinnaminson, New Jersey area and were among the earliest settlers in what is now Burlington County. They are on record as being there as early as 1704.

Nathan Petit was one of four children. The family appears in the New Jersey Census of 1895 in Camden. At that time the family consisted of Charles and Harriet Petit, daughters Mary Anna and Ada, and son Nathan. It appears that the marriage of Charles and Harriet Petit ended shortly after the 1895 Census.

The 1900 Census shows that Nathan Petit was living in Cinnaminson, New Jersey with his grandmother, Martha Petit, and his great-grandfather, Robert Babington. His mother Harriet had remarried in 1897. She and her husband, William Holland, were living at 1122 South 2nd Street in Camden at the time of the 1900 Census. William Holland was the son of John Holland, who had served as a member of the Camden Fire Department in the late 1870s. William Holland worked as a railroad brakeman. The Hollands had no children at home. The Census indicates that Harriet Holland had bore four children, two of which were still alive. One of those two children was Nathan Petit, the other would

have been one of his sisters, however it is not known which sister was still living in 1900.

By 1910 Nathan Petit had moved to Camden. He lived with his mother, step-father William Holland and step-grandfather John Holland 452 Royden Street, and worked as a teamster. The 1915 and 1916 City Directories show him working as a watchman, and living at 449 and 455 Royden Street respectively.

On April 11, 1917 Nathan Petit was appointed to the Camden Police Department. City Directories from 1917 through 1920 show him living at 416 Royden Street. From 1921 through at least 1931 he lived at 458 Royden Street. Nest door at 456 Royden was Camden fire fighter John Lutts, and just around the corner at 613 South 5th Street, the corner of South 5th and Royden Streets, lived Camden fireman Harold Megee and family. Former Chief of Police James Tatem was their next door neighbor at 615 South 5th Street, and Albert Fogg, a clerk at Camden's City Hall, resided at 617 South 5th

Nathan Petitt had married during the 1920s. The 1930 Census shows him and his wife, the former Lillian Victoria Payne, brother-in-law Castor Payne and mother-in-law Ida V. Payne all living at the Royden Street address. Nathan Petit was promoted to Sergeant in April of 1930 and was assigned to the traffic squad. 

Nathan and Lillian Petit moved to East Camden in the early 1930s. A newspaper article from 1933 shows them at 316 Boyd Street. By 1940 they had moved to 320 Boyd Street. The census shows them living there with Ida V. Payne. Sadly, Nathan and Lillian Payne were never blessed with children. 

The 1943 City Directory shows Nathan and Lillian V. Petit at 3051 Carman Street. He was still a sergeant in 1943. By the time the 1947 Directory was published, Nathan Petit had been promoted to Captain and was in charge of the Traffic Squad. Still active in 1949, Nathan Petit may well have served up until the mandatory retirement age of 65, which would have taken him to March 1, 1957. He was still living at 3051 Carman Street as late as October of 1959. After leaving the police department, Nathan Petit worked for several years, putting in enough time to be eligible for Social Security benefits.

Last a resident of Audubon, New Jersey, Nathan Petit died on April 19, 1975. 


World War I Draft Card


Philadelphia Inquirer
November 22, 1919

Harry Johnson
Barbara Johnson
Nathan Petit
River Avenue
Cooper Hospital


Camden Evening Courier- January 20, 1928

SLOT MACHINE THIEF IS TAKEN IN AUTO CHASE
Broadway Shop Bandit Nabbed After 2-Mile Dash Through Streets
GAMBLING SYNDICATE WARFARE IS INDICATED
Mystery Marks Arrests as Police Keep Information on Arrest Secret

Pursued for more than two miles in a wild chase through the heart of Camden about noon today, two “shiek­bandits” were captured by the man whose store they had robbed of two gambling machines. 

Police later said they had arrested one youth in connection with the case. He was Walter S. Nowak, 22 years old, of 442 Jackson Street, they said, and he had been booked on a charge of “holdup in a store.” They knew nothing, they said about two men being caught. 

How he followed two “young fellows” through the streets of the city after they had dashed from his store with the machines in which they had “lost $2,” was repeated by Lewis Schectman, proprietor of a general store at 708 Broadway.  

The chase began when Schechtman commandeered an automobile in front of his store. It ended when he and the driver of the automobile captured the youths at the corner of Fourth Street and Kaighn Avenue

There, according to Schectman, the youths were turned over to the patrolmen of the Second District, Police Officers Nathan Petit and Edward Carroll.  

When asked to confirm a report that the young bandits had been arrested, Sergeant James Clay of the desk of police headquarters, refused to show the ‘police docket’ to newspaper reporters. Members of the patrol crew refused to give information concerning the arrest of anybody connected with the robbery, or any charge on which they may have been booked.  

Rivalry of Syndicates  

It is generally believed that the thieves are representatives of one of the several “syndicates” which place gambling machines in stores, saloons and poolrooms about town. It was pointed out that often there is intense rivalry between the competing syndicates and that it is sometimes carried to the point where they steal each other’s equipment. 

“It was 11:45 this morning when two young fellows, well-dressed, came into my store.” declared Schectman.

“They started playing a nickel machine which is out of sight of passers by in the corner of the store. I heard them say they lost $2. My attention was taken up by a salesman who came into the store to collect a bill. I went to the rear of the store to get ink with which to write a check. I heard my wife scream murder, thieves, police, help.” 

According to Schectman, his wife, Jennie, 40 years old, and his 16-year old daughter Esther saw the youths run out of the store with the slot machine in their arms, load them into a car parked in front of the establishment and drive away.  

Schectman said he and the salesman took up the chase. After he saw the bandit car pass a red light at the corner of Broadway and Line Street he commandeered an automobile, ordering the driver, whose name he did not obtain, to follow the touring car which then had turned left into Line. 

Details of the chase were told by Schectman.  

The bandits were followed west on up to Fifth Street. Their car swerved from Fifth to Chestnut, and turned southwest on Newton Avenue until it reached Kaighn Avenue.

“They then swung west on Kaighn Avenue and drove toward the ferry. We were about a half a square behind them, all the way.” Schectman declared.  

Down to the ferry plaza, the bandits swung their car around in the ferry driveway, and dashed back up Kaighn Avenue until they reached Fourth Street.

‘We yelled ‘murder, police, robbers’ all the way.’ Schectman declared.

Two Fugitives Caught

After they had turned the corner on to Fourth Street, the robbers, apparently frightened, jumped from their machine and ran north on Fourth Street. Schectman and his friend followed, caught up with them and collared them.  

A telephone call brought the Second District police patrol.

The slot machines which contained about $50 were confiscated by the police, Schectman said.  

The touring car used by the bandits in their attempted get away had no rear license tag. On the front was a license p1ate with C-16207 N.J.  

Schectman said he believed the car had been stolen. The car was a Flint touring car.

Investigation this afternoon revealed that this license was issued for a 1927 blue Chrysler sedan, on January L to Richard Gondolf, 3037 Fenwick Road, Fairview, at the agency of Samuel Weinstein, 411 Kaighn Avenue. Gondolf is a son of Peter Gondolf, former policeman and who is now in the contracting business. The son works with his father.  

Store Robbed  

Sometime between 9 o’clock last night and 7 o’clock this morning the store of William Henion at 517 Clinton Street was broken into.  

Two slot machines of the “penny’ type, containing a total of $80 were taken. Ten boxes of cigars and an amount of candy were also stolen by the robbers, who gained entrance by forcing a door in an unoccupied house at the rear of the store.  

A box containing $8 in pennies which lay near the machines and $2 in a cash drawer were overlooked. The break was discovered by Henion when he opened up this morning. He figured his loss at $100.


Camden Evening Courier- January 20, 1928

DEALER DENIES THIEVES TOOK SLOT MACHINE
Bertman Doubts His Story After He ‘Shifts’ Loot to Cigars
IS LIABLE TO A FINE ON GAMBLING MACHINE

Grand Jury Probe is Hinted by Judge- Reporter Takes Stand

Lewis Shectman changed his story in police court today and declared that it was only a box of cigars, not a gambling machine that was stolen from his store, 708 Broadway, yesterday by two bandits. Police Court judge Bernard Bertman characterized Schectman as a prevaricator.

Shectman denied statements published ion the Evening Courier yesterday, in which he and his wife and daughter related in detail how two men had carried away a gambling machine in an automobile after losing $2 playing the machine.

William Gaffney, Evening Courier reporter, was called to the stand and repeated the facts published in yesterday’s paper.

“I cannot help but believe you are lying”, Bertman said to Schectman. At the same time Bertman intimated that he would recommend a further investigation of the matter by County Prosecutor Wescott before putting the evidence before a grand jury.

Denies Stealing ‘Cigars’

Schectman appeared in Court today against two men the police arrested in the case The defendants are Walter S. Nowak, 22 years old, 442 Jackson Street and Martin Bertherlet, 25 years old, 1218 Pavonia Street. Each was held in $500 bail for the Grand Jury after Samuel P. Orlando, counsel for the two men, had waived a hearing.

Orlando, after the hearing today, stated that both men deny the charge of stealing the cigars. He would not comment on the case further, however.

Nowak was caught after a two-mile chase through the streets. of Camden yesterday  by Schectman and Frank Helm, 2909 Stevens Street, who offered his car as Shectman cried “Help! Robbers!” in front of his store.

Nowak was turned over to Patrolmen Nathan Petit and Edward Carroll of the Second District patrol crew.

Both Are Identified

Berherlat was arrested. Police said he called at headquarters yesterday afternoon and reported that his automobile had been stolen from Hyde Park, Second and Kaighn Avenue. Police said they doubted his story, investigated, and placed him under arrest today.

Both Novak and Bertherlat were identified as the two men who rushed from his store yesterday noon, by Shectman.

A stir was created in court when the Broadway store proprietor said he did not own a gambling machine, and said that the thieves had stolen a box of cigars.

When Shectman, answering a question put to him by Bertman, denied that he had been asked to “change the story” Gaffney was called to the witness stand.

Gaffney recited in detail an inter­view with Schectman yesterday shortly following the robbery. How Schectman had said that be had been robbed at a slot machine by two well-dressed bandits and how he had pursued them through the principal streets of South Camden—account of which was printed in detail in Fridays Courier—was told by the witness.

Shectman Questioned

Questioning of Schectman by Bertman followed statements by Detective Louis Shaw and attorney Orlando.

Shaw, asked the nature of the case against Nowak and Bertherlat said that it was over the “larceny of cigars.”

Orlando said that he understood that the matter invoilved his clients with the theft of a slot machine from Shectman’s store. Orlando said that his clients denied stealing cigars.

Neither of the defendants were called to testify.

Following Gaffney’s testimony, Judge Bertman said that he was tempted to hold the complainant under bail.

Shectman then again tried to “explain” the alleged discrepancies in the interview Friday and the statements made in court this morning.

“I don’t want to talk with you” was Bertman’s answer to Shectman’s request for a “few minutes” with the judge.

Police today said that they had arrested Harry Simons, 44, of 1447 South 4th Street “on suspicion” last night. After Shectman positively identified Nowak and Bertherlat, Simons was released.

An erroneous report of the license number found on the Flint touring car used by the men on their flight from Shectman’s store was made yesterday. The license number, police said, was C16209 and not C16207 as reported yesterday.

It was through the tracing of the license number and the report that Bertherlat’s car had been stolen, that the second arrest in the case was made this morning.

Police said they figured the car had been used in several South Camden robberies during the past month.

Under the law, had Shectman admttted to possession of the slot machine, he would have been subject to a fine.


Camden Courier-Post * February, 1928

GARAGE WATCHMAN FOILS WHISKEY THEFT
Tells Police of Man With Box; Liquor From Drugstore Found

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George M. Beringer - Herman Z. Cutler - Norm Middleton
James Robertson -
Fifth Street - Arch Street - Penn Street
Edward Carroll - Harry Cattell - Everett Joslin - Nathan Petit Archie Riess


Camden Courier-Post * April 9, 1930

2 POLICE OFFICERS MADE LIEUTENANTS
Rhone Reported Ready to Make
Five Patrolmen Sergeant

Reports that five members of the Camden police department will be promoted to sergeants tomorrow were circulated, today after announcement that two sergeants had been appointed lieutenant.

Those who, according to rumors, will be elevated to sergeant are Nathan Petit, of the second police district, to be assigned to the traffic squad; Gus Koerner, detective bureau; Walter Rowand, first district; Frank Truax, Second district, and Edward Hahn, third district.

The two new lieutenants who took oath of office yesterday are Samuel Johnson and Thomas Cunningham. The former was a sergeant of police attached to the detective bureau and will continue in that department, while Cunningham, while a sergeant, was acting lieutenant in day command at the fourth district. He remains in that district, The appointments were announced yesterday by Commissioner David S. Rhone, director of public safety.

Both were immediately administered oaths of office by Dr. Rhone's secretary, Bayard M. Sullivan, at the director's office, Lieutenant Cunningham is already eligible for retirement, having served more than 20 years on the city police force.

The two appointments complete the seven lieutenancies created n by a city ordinance. Ten members of the police department passed civil service examinations for the post, which pays an annual salary of $2500. Each must serve one year as lieutenant before becoming eligible to take examination for captaincy.

The five previously appointed lieutenants are George Frost, now night commander of the fourth district; Walter Welch, third district; Charles Laib, a sub-commander of the traffic bureau under Captain Charles T. Humes, traffic Inspector; Ralph Bakley, second district; and George Ward, first district.

The other three candidates who passed the examination, Sergeants John Potter, Herbert Anderson and Harry I. Newton, did not receive lieutenancies, although Potter had the highest percentage in the tests.


Camden Courier-Post - October 27, 1931

2 Wives Give Same Block Duplicate Murder Scares
And Two Hubbies on Warpath, Both Brandishing Knives,
Subdued by Same Cop; Will
Tell It to Same Judge Today

Two wives, within two hours, excited the neighborhood of Chestnut Street in the 200 block by running into the street and calling "murder."        .

In both instances Motorcycle Patrolman Earl Wright was summoned to subdue ferocious husbands.

The first call came from 290 Chestnut Street. Wright used jujitsu to stop William Passio, 24, from breaking up the furniture and threatening his wife, Catherine, with a bread knife. The cop arrested Passio and confiscated one case or 48 half-pint bottles of alleged whiskey and a punchboard. Sergeant Truax and Policeman Devine assisted.

The second call came from 254 Chestnut Street. Wright and Sergeant Petit found George Hall, 28, at the back door with a carving knife up his sleeve.

His wife, Hazel, said he attempted to kill her. Wright drew his pistol- Hall handed over the knife.

Both men were given "suites" in the city jail pending arraignment today. Both were charged with "threats to kill.'


Camden Courier-Post - February 10, 1933

SALESMAN DIES IN COLLISION OF AUTO AND BUS
Victim Near Home When Accident Occurs; Driver Held

John A. Ashton, 36, a salesman, of 316 Boyd Street, was injured fatally last night when his automobile and a Public Service bus collided 100 feet from his home. He died in West Jersey Homeopathic Hospital at 8:10 PM, an hour and five minutes after the crash.

The bus was driven by Joseph Clark, 50, of 504 North Fourth street. He was held in $1000 bail for the grand jury on a charge of manslaughter. The crash occurred at Boyd Street and Baird boulevard. According to Policeman Russell Young, on duty at the traffic light at Baird and Admiral Wilson boulevards, a man whose name he did not obtain told him both cars were proceeding on Baird boulevard and that Clark attempted to pass Ashton's car on the right as Ashton turned right into Boyd Street. Ashton's car was forced onto the island separating the two traffic lanes on Baird boulevard. Ashton was thrown to the road.

According to Motorcycle Policeman Thomas Welch, who arrived a moment after the accident, the bus continued a block after hitting the car before it was stopped. Ashton was picked up by Welch, who commandeered an automobile and took him to the hospital. He died of a fractured skull and internal injuries. Coroner Arthur H. Holl issued the death certificate. Lieutenant Nathan Petit, who lives nearby, assisted Welch.

Clark was arrested at the Public Service car barns by Welch and Policeman Stanley Wirtz.

Ashton was employed as a salesman for the W.S. Quinby Coffee Company, Philadelphia. He is survived by a widow, Miriam, and a daughter, Marilyn, one year old. .


Camden Courier-Post * June 19, 1933

Jobless Men Aid Police to Trap Suspects 
Surround House in East Camden and Prevent Escape of Two

 Surrounding a vacant house at 331 Boyd Street which two alleged thieves had entered, a group of unemployed men yesterday cut off every avenue of escape until police arrived. 

The men, who were found hiding in a second floor closet, police said, gave their names as Barney Runyon, 26, and William Newcomb, 22, both of 2301 Mickle Street

A telephone call to the home of Patrolman Earl Stopfer, of 226 Boyd Street, by a resident in the vicinity of the vacant house, informed Mrs. Stopfer that two men were in the house. With her husband on desk duty at city hall, Mrs. Stopfer went to the home of Lieutenant Nathan Petit, 320 Boyd Street, but he was out. She then sent a group of unemployed men working on community gardens in the rear of her home to the scene and telephoned police. 

The unemployed men were circled about the house when a patrol crew, under Patrolman George Getley arrived. The two men already had dismantled plumbing fixtures, Getley said. They were committed in default of $500 bail each for a hearing in police court this morning. 


Camden Courier-Post - February 20, 1936

COPS BEAT OUT FLAMES IN WOMAN'S CLOTHING

A South Camden woman was burned seriously yesterday when her clothing caught tire while she was working in the kitchen of her home.

Mrs. Ihlelgn Brown, 35, of 1026 South Second street, is in serious condition in Cooper Hospital. She was taken to the hospital after two policemen, Sergeant Nathan Petit and Marshall Thompson, smothered the flames with blankets.

After her clothing caught fire, Mrs. Brown ran to the second floor of her home, where her husband, Abraham, was sleeping. He shouted to a neighbor who called police.


Camden Courier-Post - February 21, 1936

FALSE ALARM LEADS TO ARREST OF THREE
Girl Accused of Vagrancy When Found in Closet of House With Smoking Stove

A passerby who thought he saw a house afire on Taylor Avenue near Third street, turned in an alarm that brought four fire companies on a monkey run yesterday. It required more than five minutes to find the house reported afire when the apparatus pulled up at the alarm box at Third and Federal streets.

Two policemen, Sergeant Nathan Petit and Marshall Thompson, who followed firemen to the scene were quicker than that for they found the house and a young woman hiding in the closet on the second floor. She was arrested along with a woman and a man.

Taken to police headquarters the young woman, who identified herself as Margaret Pone, 17, of Park Avenue, Maple Shade, was held on a charge of vagrancy.

Margaret Johns, and Louis Archer, 39, both Negroes, who were also found in the three-story dwelling at 230 Taylor Avenue, were also held as material witnesses.

The reported fire turned out to be the smoking stove.  


CAMDEN COURIER-POST - JANUARY 8, 1938
Mary Kobus - Arthur Colsey - Ralph Bakley - Herbert Bott - Louis Shaw
John Skolski - George Frost  - Walter Welch - Nathan Petit
Frank Evans -
Gus Koerner - Edward Hahn - Harry Newton

Camden Courier-Post - February 11, 1938

Vestryman

SERGEANT NATHAN PETIT

Who was elected as a member of the vestry of St. Wilfrid's Episcopal Church, Westfield avenue and Dudley street, along with Robert M. Burgy. Petit also was named chairman of the parish committee and Burgy, treasurer. The Rt. Rev. Wallace J. Gardner, Bishop of the New Jersey Diocese, will administer the sacrament of confirmation at the church Monday night.


Camden Courier-Post - February 11, 1938

THIEF BITES OFF END OF CAPTOR'S FINGER

Seized by the owner of a bicycle which he allegedly was trying to steal, Thomas Fletcher, 25, of 814 South Second street, bit off the end of Herman Lundy's right forefinger last night at Broadway and Liberty streets in his efforts to escape.

Lundy, 19, of 530 Kaighn avenue, clung to Fletcher, however, until Police Sergeant Nathan Petit and Patrolman Marshall Thompson arrived and arrested the man. He was charged with mayhem and attempted larceny.

The police rushed Fletcher to detective headquarters as an angry throng of more than 50 men assembled and began muttering ominously against the prisoner.

Lundy told police he saw Fletcher attempt to take his bicycle, parked near the butcher shop where he worked, and that someone called police while he grappled with the man.


Camden Courier-Post - February 12, 1938

BIKE THIEF SENTENCED ON CHARGE OF MAYHEM

Charged with mayhem and larceny, Thomas Fletcher, 25, of 814 South Second street, was sentenced yesterday to six months in jail on the latter charge by Police Judge Mariano and held in $5000 bail for the Grand Jury on the other charge.

Appearing against Fletcher was Herman Lundy, 19, of 530 Kaighn avenue, his left hand in a sling. 

Lundy charged that Fletcher bit off the end of his left forefinger when he grappled with the man to prevent theft of his bicycle.

Sergeant Nathan Petit and Patrolman Marshall Thompson, who arrested Fletcher, told Judge Mariano that 200 persons were assembled around the man and threatening him when they arrived at the scene.

Fletcher told the court he was drunk. The policemen said he was not. They told Judge Mariano that Fletcher recently was released from Ancora, where he had served six months on a larceny charge..


World War II Draft Card


Trenton Times * December 23, 1947
Click on Image to Enlarge

George W. Frost - David S. Rhone - Samuel Johnson - Nathan Petit
George E. Brunner

Camden Courier-Post - July 31, 1948

THREE MEMBERS OF CAMDEN TRAFFIC squad are shown on new motorcycle mounts which went into service this week. Left to right are Patrolmen Martin Nelson, Frank Wilmot, and Thomas Carr in front of City Hall. Seven of the new $800 vehicles were delivered to the department on Wednesday, Capt. Nathan Petit, squad commander, announced.

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