GARRETT COWLS was born in Camden on August 1, 1850 to William and Mary Cowls. His father was a railroad worker. Garret Cowls was too young to see action during the Civil War, but served with the United States Army during the Indian Wars. He apparently returned to the Army during the Spanish-American War as well.

Garrett Cowls was known in his time as the father of baseball in Camden. He appear as a player in a Philadelphai box score in 1865. In 1868 he organized and pitched on a team which played its games on grounds at South 2nd and Line Streets. He would remain involved with the game most of the rest of his life, and managed a team which played at that location for many years.

Garrett Cowls married Margaret Duff. At least four children were born, Elmer, Frederick, Harry, and Laura. Shortly after the 1868 baseball season, the family went west. Garret Cowls enlisted in the Armey and served from 1870 to 1874. Frederick Cowls was born in Ohio in December of 1879. The family was living in Columbus when the Census was taken in 1880, Garrett Cowls then working as a waiter. The Cowls returned to Camden by shortly thereafter. 

By 1887 the Cowls family was living at 215 Line Street. Garrett Cowls was working as an engineer. Two more children had been born in the intervening years, Harry around 1882 and Laura in 1885. By 1890 they had moved to 420 South 2nd Street. Garrett Cowls and family had moved to 314 Birch Street in North Camden by the time the Census was enumerated in 1900. 

In 1905 Laura Cowls married vaudeville performer Joseph P. Hamilton. Their daughter, Kathryn "Kay" Hamilton also went into show business. Kay Hamilton worked on vaudeville, movies, and on Broadway, appearing with Eddie Dowling and George Jessel.

The family, which in 1910 included the Hamiltons and their children, lived at 326 Cooper Street in Camden. Dr. Daniel Strock, who owned the property, lived in a separate apartment in the same building. Garrett Cowls was then working as a stationary engineer.

Garrett Cowls was still alive when the census was taken in April of 1930. He and son Harry were living with Joseph and Laura Cowls Hamilton at 501 Haddon Avenue in Camden. The Hamiltons later moved to Atlantic City. Garrett and Harry Cowls were living at 416 Taylor Avenue in the summer of 1930.

Garrett Cowls passed away on September 30, 1930. He is buried at Bethel Cemetery in Pennsauken NJ, in Section D, grave 252.

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

Philadelphia Daily Age - August 21, 1865

Philadelphia Inquirer - June 26, 1895

Daniel Fullen - William W. Carter - William T. Propet - Charles H. Allen
Rodolphus Binghm - J.J. Crandall - Henry H. Wood - Aaron Howell
Garrett Cowls - Samuel Harbison - Harvey Harrop - James Freeman
William Warner - William White - Oliver S. Guthrie - Robert Bingham

Philadelphia Inquirer  March 13, 1893

Samuel B. Easton - Philip Luckett - Garrett Cowls 

Philadelphia Inquirer - June 26, 1895

Zeke Moore - Charley Matthews - ____ Stanton
Garrett Cowls - Ike Toy - ___ Hallowell - Bill Henry
____ Loftus - ____ Humphreys - ____ Foulkrod - ____ Gray 

Camden Daily Courier * December 4, 1904

Garrett Cowls -
Frederick Halsinger
Isaac Gleason
Charles Anders
Theodore Paterson
Robert Black
Charles Garrison
John O'Rourke

Samuel Easton
Philip Luckett
Harry Davis
Thomas Sullivan
Samuel Easton
William Husted

Isaac Gleason was the son of Camden fire fighter William Gleason and brother of major league baseball players William "Kid" Gleason and Harry Gleason


Philadelphia Inquirer - March 20, 1905

Philadelphia Inquirer - March 17, 1907

Philadelphia Inquirer - July 28, 1907

Marmaduke W. Taylor - Garrett Cowls

Philadelphia Inquirer - July 28, 1907

Robert Black - Tri-State League - Garrett Cowls

Cooper Street

February 7, 2004

Dr. Daniel Strock
Garrett Cowls
Joseph Hamilton
Kay Hamilton

April 2004-
This building
will be demolished
to accommodate
Rowan University

Click on Images to Enlarge

Camden Courier-Post - October 1, 1930

'Grandfather of Baseball in Camden' Stricken With Indigestion

Camden's "Grand Old Man of Baseball" is dead.

Garrett Cowls, who bore the title of "grandfather of baseball in Camden" died at noon yesterday, surrounded by his treasured keepsakes, in the parlor of his home, 416 Taylor Avenue. He was 81 years old.

In excellent health almost to the last, Garrett, as he was fondly called by the hundreds of baseball players whom he managed in his long career, was seized suddenly with indigestion. A physician was summoned. He seemed to improve. He lay down on a couch to rest and death gave no warning.

Old-timers in the realm of sports who long since had lost their "hitting eyes" were shocked last night when informed of the passing of their old "boss".

Famous 60 Years Ago


Tears glistened, unashamed, in the eyes of these stars of the past as they recalled the successes and failures of this man who had grown wrinkled and gray, but retained the admiration and respect of baseball players throughout the country.

The laurels he won with his youthful Star team more that 60 years ago; the stirring battles he annexed with the old Independents of 1885-1889; the merry times he enjoyed while pilot of the Greater Camden club in 1890-94, and the triumphs with more modern teams of the current century were all recounted by these "veterans" as they gathered in little knots on street corners or in lodge rooms to discuss the passing of their old friend and advisor.

Cowls was well under voting age when he organized his first ball club. It was called the "Stars" and most of those connected with the outfit long since have died.

Shortly after the "Stars" had disbanded Garrett enlisted and served four years in the Army during the Indian Wars of 1870-1874. But his interest in baseball was mor keen than ever when he returned home and he organized a local baseball team that made a great reputation ion the more than five years of existence.

Won 104 Out of 129

Cowls managed his greatest team in 1892. It was called the Independents and made a country-wide reputation. The club played 129 games during that year and won 104 of them. Cowls gained the reputation of being one of the best pilots in independent baseball and several of the stars of the club moved up into the major leagues.

William "Kid" Gleason, a member of the 1892 Independents, attributes part of his success to the baseball knowledge gained while playing for Garrett Cowls.

For three straight years, back in the early nineties, it was a baseball team guided by Cowls that won the championship of the South Jersey League. This organization consisted of clubs from Cape May, Atlantic City, Millville, Bridgeton, Burlington, Bristol, and Trenton, besides Camden.

As late as 1916 he was identified with baseball when he managed the Camden A.C. nine, playing at Third and Erie streets.

Predicted A's Would Win

Cowls rated "Rube" Waddell and "Babe" Ruth as the two greatest ball players of all time. he was a great admirer of Connie Mack and only a few days ago predicted that the Athletics would win their second straight world championship.

His birthday, in recent years, were occasions calling for gatherings of old friends and ball players, when the game "in the good old days" would be discussed.

Among his most treasured keepsakes was an engraved baseball sent to him several years ago by "Babe" Ruth and autographed, "From Babe Ruth to Garrett Cowls, grandfather of baseball in Camden."

He had been employed by the Victor Company from the time Eldridge R. Johnson had founded it, and continued with RCA Victor's subsidiary, RCA Photophone Company. He had worked on Monday and had not been ill until the time of the fatal attack.

He is survived by three children, a daughter, Mrs. Laura Hamilton, 2610 Atlantic Avenue, Atlantic City; Harry Cowls, a son with whom he lived, and Elmer Cowls, an emplyee of the new York Yankee baseball club, who resides in New York City.

A grand-daughter, Kathryn Hamilton, is a well-known musical comedy star.