Garrett Cowls

Garrett Cowls

Garrett Cowls was born in Camden on August 1, 1850, to William and Mary Cowls. His father worked for the railroad. Although Garret Cowls was too young to take part in the Civil War, he did serve in the United States Army during the Indian Wars. There are indications that he also returned to the Army during the Spanish-American War.

In his time, Garrett Cowls was widely recognized as the father of baseball in Camden. He made an appearance as a player in a Philadelphia box score in 1865. In 1868, he organized a team and even pitched for them, with their home games played at the South 2nd and Line Streets grounds. His involvement with the game continued for much of his life, and he managed a team that played at that location for many years.

Garrett Cowls tied the knot with Margaret Duff, and the couple had at least four children: Elmer, Frederick, Harry, and Laura. After the 1868 baseball season, the family ventured west. Garrett Cowls enlisted in the Army, where he served from 1870 to 1874. The family lived in Columbus, Ohio when the 1880 Census was conducted, with Garrett Cowls working as a waiter. Shortly thereafter, they returned to Camden.

By 1887, the Cowls family had established their residence at 215 Line Street, and Garrett Cowls worked as an engineer. During the years that followed, two more children were born, Harry around 1882, and Laura in 1885. In 1890, they had moved to 420 South 2nd Street, and by the 1900 Census, the Cowls family had settled at 314 Birch Street in North Camden.

In 1905, Laura Cowls married Joseph P. Hamilton, a vaudeville performer. Their daughter, Kathryn “Kay” Hamilton, also pursued a career in show business, working in vaudeville, movies, and on Broadway, and even appearing alongside Eddie Dowling and George Jessel.

In 1910, the family, including the Hamiltons and their children, was residing at 326 Cooper Street in Camden. They shared the building with Dr. Daniel Strock, who lived in a separate apartment. Garrett Cowls was employed as a stationary engineer at this time.

When the April 1930 Census was conducted, Garrett Cowls was still alive. He and his son, Harry, were living with Joseph and Laura Cowls Hamilton at 501 Haddon Avenue in Camden. Subsequently, the Hamiltons relocated to Atlantic City. In the summer of 1930, Garrett and Harry Cowls were residing at 416 Taylor Avenue.

Garrett Cowls passed away on September 30, 1930, and he was laid to rest at Bethel Cemetery in Pennsauken, NJ, in Section D, grave 252.

Notably, Garrett Cowls’ great-grandson, James McEvoy, served as a member of the Camden Fire Department from 1969 to 1982.

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