SYLVESTER WESLEY MCGRATH was born on November 26, 1879 in Philadelphia, PA. He was the son of Sylvester McGrath and Catharine "Kate" Jordan Walker. According to the 1880 Census, both his parents were born in Ireland. The 1900 Census indicates, however, that his mother was born in New York of Irish parents.

The 1880 Census shows Sylvester McGrath and  his parents on Guilford Street in Philadelphia. The elder McGrath worked as a laborer. Later Census records show that 4 more children had been born, three of whom were alive in 1900. 

The McGrath family first appears in Camden City Directories in 1892. By this time Catherine McGrath was a widow. The 1892-1893 Directory shows the family at 1051 Diamond Street. The 1894-95 and 1895-1896 lists them at 603 St. John Street. By the time the 1896 Directory was compiled, Sylvester McGrath was working as a machinist in Philadelphia. He and his mother had moved to 607 St. John Street. The following year's Director reveals that Sylvester McGrath and his mother had moved to 817 Dauphin Street, and that he had begun work at a morocco "patent leather" factory. He followed this trade through at least 1900. The McGraths moved to 821 Dauphin Street in time for the compilation of the 1898 City Directory.

In late 1898 or early 1899 Sylvester “Wes” McGrath married  Gertrude Colbeck who was born in Camden on March 15, 1877. A daughter, was born in September of 1899. Four more children would

follow- Helen, Sylvester “Buddy”, Catharine and Myrtle. The 1900 Census shows the family at 615 St. John Street. They moved to 819 South 6th Street by 1910, by which time "Wes" McGrath had found a new line of work, as a bartender. The 1910-1911 City Directory shows "Wes" McGrath and family at 620 Division Street, his widowed mother Catherine was still living at 819 South 6th Street. By 1914 "Wes" McGrath and his family had moved to 605 St. John Street where he lived out his days.

"Wes" McGrath was appointed to the Camden Fire Department on March 14, 1913. He was assigned to Engine Company No. 7, 1115 Kaighn Avenue, as a Hoseman who made $960 per year according to the 1914 Chief Engineer’s Report. His wife’s uncle, Elmer Burkett, also worked at Engine Company No. 7 as a Stoker and his yearly salary was $1020.

"Wes" McGrath transferred to the Camden Police Department on July 16, 1918. He was appointed a City Detective on September 1, 1927. In the August 20, 1929 Camden Courier is an article on Sylvester and his partner Joseph Carpani. The article “Sleuths Here Play Big Part in Shore Murder Inquiry” said  

The record for long distance detecting is claimed for Joseph Carpani and Sylvester McGrath, both of whom, although Neptune City is more than 70 miles away, have aided materially in the investigation of the holdup and murder which occurred there last Saturday. It was their quick work in tracing Robert Tully. Through a source they couldn’t reveal, they found Tully in a rooming house at 115 North Fourth Street. Carpani and McGrath who pal together and always work as a team were assigned to this case. Carpani lives at 568 Royden Street, McGrath at 605 St. John Street, just around the corner. The two are friends and study a great deal together in the field of criminology, languages and sociology.

Sadly, Gertrude Colbeck McGrath died October 29, 1931 at their home, 605 St. John Street, Camden.  

"Wes" McGrath remained a City Detective until he retired on March 15, 1933. He died September 27, 1948 and is buried in Calvary Cemetery..

Camden Daily Courier
October 11, 1912



Camden Aerie No. 65, Fraternal Order of Eagles
Dr. E.J. McConaghy - William Buck
Thomas Edwards - John Everham
Mrs. W.A. Curliss

The Enchantress
Oh! You Little Bear
Happy Time
I Want to Be in Dixie
Take Me Back to the Garden of Love
Waiting for the Robert E. Lee
Spirit of Independence
Rag Time Soldier Man
Island of Roses and Love
Rag Time Goblin Man
Just a Dream of You, Dear
That Baboon Baby Dance
That's How I Need You
My Little Persian Rose
Remick's Operatic Rag
I'd Like to Live in Loveland
I'm the Guy
Marion You'll Soon Be Marryin' Me
Oh You Dear Sweet Wonderful Boy
My Palace of Dreams
I've Got the Finest Man
That Mellow Melody
Good Morning
Good Bye Everybody


Charles F. Sattler - John J. Lloyd
James F. Cleary - Atlie F. Hoover
Michael Durkin - Ralph R. Reynolds
Harry M. Dey - William S. Van Blunk
William Rudolph - J. Kessler Jenkins Sr.
John M. Gray - Arthur M. Gray
George W. Garton - Herbert J. Tidd
William J. Van der Straeten
James Carr - James O'Hara
E. Vanderslice - Frank S. Devereaux
Anthony Oberst - George Lezenby
William F. Sheer - William M. Petzelt
George S. Dilmore - John Freeman
Frank Applegate - M. Marino
Michael Caulgeld - Harry Antrim
Samuel C. Fisler - Samuel Curlis
James Kennedy - Sylvester McGrath
John H. Riddle - Charles W. Gengenbach
William Cleary - Garry Miller
Claude Chew - James Cahill

Alice Davis - Edith Johnson - Rose Marino - Florence Williams - Mrs. William Gormley
Bessie Haines - Frances Lenz - Alice Parrish - Mrs. Howard Smith

Philadelphia Inquirer - March 5, 1913

William Hertline - John Lennox - Sylvester McGrath

Camden Fire Department
1914 Chief Engineer's Report

Engine Company No. 7

Location 1115 Kaighn Avenue. Second-class Metropolitan Engine and Combination Chemical and Hose Wagon. Went into service July 1, 1910. Carries 900 feet of 2-1/2-inch hose. 

Rank Age Residence Salary
Charles A. Todd  Captain  52  618 S. Fourth Street  $1,140.00 
Joseph Sparks  Lieutenant 31  624 S. Fifth Street $960.00 
John A. Dold   Engineer 53 1301 Park Boulevard  $1,140.00
Elmer Burkett  Stoker 47  1009 Penn Street $1,020.00 
Roy Smith  Driver 30   607 Carman Street $960.00 
William Hunsinger Driver 37   741 Walnut Street $ 960.00 
George Boone  Hoseman 38   605 Mt. Vernon Street $ 960.00 
Sylvester McGrath  Hoseman 35 605 St. John Street $ 960.00 
Horace Cairns  Hoseman 42 621 Newton Avenue $1,020.00 

Engine Company 7 on Kaighn Avenue - 1914
Camden Courier-Post * June 14, 1969
Click on Images to Enlarge

Camden Post-Telegram - June 26, 1916

Joseph Sparks
S. Wesley McGrath
Engine Company 7
West Street
Kaighn Avenue


Camden Post-Telegram
June 20, 1917

Frank Gondolf - John T. Garrity
Sylvester "Wes" McGrath
Harry Chambers - William Cason
John H. Lennox - George Pursglove John McTaggart

World War I Draft Card
Click on Images to Enlarge

CAMDEN COURIER-POST * January 11, 1928

12-Year-Old Boys Sent to Detention Home After Looting Stores

Three “baby burglars” stood in police court today and admitted to Judge Bertman that during the past three months they had robbed six business houses in the city. They were committed to the House of Detention without bail for their appearance in Juvenile Court.

The boys are John Pukas, 668 Central Avenue; Bruno Brozozouski, 1747 Master Street, both 12 years old, and Frank Hotel, 1845 Broadway, 10 years old. They were arrested last Saturday morning as they were forcing their way into a rear window of the Hanover Shoe Company store, 1131 Broadway. They were captured by John Campbell, a private watchman.

When the boys were taken to police headquarters and questioned by City detectives Dolan and McGrath, they admitted their life of crime began three months ago. The said they sold a large amount of their loot which amounted to several thousand dollars.

In police court they admitted breaking into the jewelry store of Samuel Windthorp, 1029 Broadway, and stealing jewelry valued at $450; the Atlantic Cotton Company, 1041 Broadway, and taking several hundred pennies out of the cash register. When they broke into the store they entered through the only window that was not equipped with a burglar alarm.

They also admitted entering the Boston Shoe Shop, 1104 Broadway, and stealing 15 pairs of shoes and $58.75 in cash. Then they confessed to breaking into the Sugar Bowl, 453 Kaighn Avenue and the Dudley Furniture Company, Broadway and Sycamore Street. In the latter place the youngsters stole a box of cigars. They also said they entered the hardware store of J.R. Leaming, 1015 Broadway, and stealing a dollar’s worth of pennies out of the cash drawer.

“The trouble with you boys is that you have been petted and pampered too much by your parents,” Judge Bertman said. “You should be committed to some institution, and I’m going to hold you without bail and send you to the House of Detention.”  


April 2, 1928

Haddon Avenue
Sylvester McGrath
Emil Muckensturm Jr.
Louis Meher

Camden Evening Courier - September 19, 1928




John Kowal
Lewis Stehr
John Skolski
John W. Golden 
James Hollis 
Clarence Arthur 
Frank Moll
Clarence Bunker
Thomas Cheeseman

Sylvester McGrath
Lawrence T. Doran
Dr. David S. Rhone
William D. McDonaldson
Frank Leonard
Father McCorriston

Joseph "Mose" Flannery"  Joseph Moll - James Bonner  William Bonner
Rita Leslie  - James L. Hawkins - Hotel Royal - Walter Novak - Joseph Novak
Garfield Del Duca - Eugene Murphy - Russell Sage - Patrick Driscoll
Joseph "Cuzzy" Scarduzio  - Front Street -
Kaighn Avenue - Fairview Street
South 3rd Street - West Jersey Hospital - Sacred Heart Church
Camden High School


Camden Courier-Post 
April 29, 1929



John Doris - Joseph O'Connor - American Restaurant - Kaighn Avenue

Camden Courier-Post * April 29, 1929

John Doris - Frank Doris - Joseph O'Connor aka Joseph Connors - Broadway - Kaighn Avenue

Russell Sage - Mechanic Street - James "Jimmie" Toland - Nonpariel Club
Charles Riehm - Haddon Avenue - William Kelly aka Leo Morton - Van Hook Street
Harry Selah - South 3rd Street - William J. Merrick - Liberty Street - Lorenzo Cole
Jefferson Avenue
- Ernest Matsios - Leo McKenna - Mt. Vernon Street
United Shoe Repair - Amber Street

Joseph Leonhardt
Samuel Johnson
- Gustav Koerner - Joseph Carpani - Thomas Cheeseman
Sylvester McGrath - Fiore Troncone - Joseph "Mose" Flannery - Lewis Stehr

Frank T. Lloyd Sr.
David S. Rhone
Rocco Palese
Lawrence T. Doran

Raymond O'Connor - Hughy McLoon

Camden Courier-Post
April 30, 1929

Joseph Connors
Who is facing a crisis in West Jersey Hospital from wounds received in a shooting affray early Sunday near Broadway and Kaighn Avenue

Mrs. Rose Gibbs
Who is held as a material witness in shooting of Joseph Connors Sunday night near Broadway and Kaighn Avenue




Camden Courier-Post - April 30, 1929


John Doris - Frank Doris - Joseph O'Connor aka Joseph Connors
Rocco Palese - Joseph "Mose" Flannery - Sylvester McGrath - Lawrence T. Doran Broadway - Kaighn AvenueSamuel P. Orlando - Garfield S. Pancoast
Edward Powell - Rose Gibbs -
Henry Street - Eli Conaghy - Russell Sage
Joseph Gannon -
Polack Joe Deven - Nonpariel Club - Joseph Riks

Camden Courier
August 20, 1929

Sleuths Here Play Big Part in Shore Murder Inquiry

The record for long distance detecting is claimed for Joseph Carpani and Sylvester McGrath, both of whom, although Neptune City is more than 70 miles away, have aided materially in the investigation of the holdup and murder which occurred there last Saturday. It was their quick work in tracing Robert Tully. Through a source they couldn’t reveal, they found Tully in a rooming house at 115 North Fourth Street. Carpani and McGrath who pal together and always work as a team were assigned to this case. Carpani lives at 568 Royden Street, McGrath at 605 St. John Street, just around the corner. The two are friends and study a great deal together in the field of criminology, languages and sociology.

Camden Courier-Post - May 5, 1930
Joseph G. Ward
Louis Street - Florence Street
Decatur Street - Mt. Ephraim Avenue
William G. Ritter - Peter English
Walter Wilkie - Ralph Bakley
Joseph Ward Sr. - E. Frank Pine
Clifford Del Rossi
- Theodore Guthrie
Melvin Cain - William F. McGrath
Sylvester "Wes" McGrath, City Detective
Urquhart Ward - Robert Ward
John Smith - Maurice Mensch
Victor King - Michael Mathews
James E. Tatem - Arthur Colsey


Camden Morning Post - November 26, 1930


Joe O'Connor - John W. Golden - Sylvester McGrath - Russell Young
Broadway - Kaighn Avenue - South 5th Street - Walnut Street
"Little Club" speakeasy -
West Jersey Hospital
Albert Saunders - Angelo Solury - John Doris

Morning Post
November 27, 1930

Joe O'Connor
Sylvester McGrath
Stephen McKiernan
South 5th Street
Walnut Street
West Jersey Hospital

Camden Courier-Post - November 29, 1930
Dorothy Austin - John Cullen - John Drexel - Gordon Feltz - Samuel Johnson*
Russell Kaighn - Dr. Charles Ley - Irma Marconi - Sylvester McGrath - Alfred Shires
Walter Smith - Nathan Wine - Earl Wright - John Yovankin 
North 3rd Street - North 8th Street - Broadway - Friends Avenue
Lansdowne Avenue
- Louis Street- Penn Street - South Common Road

* Samuel Johnson was erroneously naed "Thompson" in the above article

Camden Morning Post - December 1, 1930

Sylvester McGrath
Harry Yates

Howard Bean  
George Schuyler 

Michael Quinn
Harry Schwartz 

Lansdowne Avenue

Princess Avenue

Click on Images to enlarge

Camden Courier-Post - December 1, 1930
(Morning Courier)
Howard Bean
Joseph Carpani

Walter F. Keown
Dr. Charles Ley
Sylvester McGrath
Anthony Melloch
Herman Natal
Anthony Quigley
Michael "Mickey" Quinn
George Schuyler
Harry Schwartz
Stanley Sheldon
Harry Yates
Nathan Wine
Bronislaw Ziemba
Evergreen Cemetery
Harleigh Cemetery
South 7th Street

Federal Street
Haddon Avenue
Kaighn Avenue

Lansdowne Avenue
Mt. Ephraim Avenue
Norris Street
Princess Avenue

Camden Courier-Post - December 1, 1930
(Evening Post)

Sylvester McGrath - John Cullen - Stanley Janasz
John Makowski - James Murray - Arthur Holl
Dr. Edward Rogers - Gordon Feltz
John Drexel - Lansdowne Avenue


December 6, 1930

Joseph Carpani
Flora B. Scannell
North 3rd Street

Sylvester McGrath

Camden Courier-Post - August 10, 1931



Samuel M. Shay - Henry N. Mallett - Sylvester McGrath - Fred Musick
North 9th Street - North 22nd Street

Camden Courier-Post - October 26,1931

Four Suspects Caught as Series of Weekend Robberies Keep Police Busy
Trio Held at Gloucester for Robbing Store at Westville Grove

Loot valued at several hundred dollar was recovered and four men arrested over the weekend as many robberies were reported to police throughout South Jersey.

Three of the men arrested were captured in Gloucester when merchandise stolen from a Westville Grove store and garage was found in their automobile. The fourth man was arrested in Camden.

Those under arrest in Gloucester, are Joseph Rietseh, 47, of 1245 Palmer street; Joseph Dorman, 18, of 103 Chango street, and Charles Headley, 18, of 936 North Fourth street, all of Philadelphia.

The loot found in their car consisted of automobile tires, cigarettes, safety razors, tubes and other articles. It had been stolen from the store and garage of George A. Fields, Delsea Drive, Westville Grove.

The three men were arrested by Patrolmen Walter Lane and William Fowler. who stopped their car because it had but one headlight.

Taken back to Westville the three men were held without bail for the grand jury by Recorder Charles H. Benner.

Held For Theft

When he walked down Federal Street with an oil stove Armstead Saunders, 56, of 314 Taylor Avenue, was stopped by the police Saturday night.

An investigation revealed he had picked it up as he passed the second-hand store of W. L. Ernest, 408 Federal Street, according to Patrolmen Walter Patton and Raymond Stark.

Saunders will have a hearing today before Police Judge Pancoast, on a charge of larceny.

James Josephson, 3320 Lancaster Avenue, Philadelphia, a salesman for the Household Institute of New York reported the loss of two cases of aluminum ware and an investigation was conducted by Detective Sylvester McGrath. Upon information he entered the apartment alleged to have been tenanted by John Harrigan, of 1289 Dayton Street and found the merchandise. Harrigan is said by the police to have left the apartment. The goods are valued at $150.

William H. McMakin, of 119 West Pine Street, Audubon, reported to Detective Robert Ward that he was held up at Pine Street near Fifth on Sunday morning by three young men. They relieved him of his watch, valued $35, and his drivers license. McMakin was unable to describe the culprits.

William Harris, 53, of 1731 Fillmore Street, told Detective Clifford Carr he was relieved of his wallet containing $6.90 by an unknown man at Haddon Avenue and Copewood Street, Sunday morning. He described the man as being about 27 years old and wearing a light cap.

Thieves entered the candy shop of Jones Wilson, Park Boulevard and Kaighn Avenue, Saturday night and took three cartons of cigarettes, some candy and soda valued at $23.

Hair Clipper Stolen

Waclaw Hermanolski, 1322 Mt. Ephraim Avenue, reported to police that someone entered his barbershop through a rear window and stole an electric hair clipper, massage vibrator and $15.

A grocery store operated by Joseph S. Eskowitz, of 1022 Broadway, was entered early yesterday and the thieves took three dozen cans of malt syrup valued at $12. Detective Benjamin Simon discovered the burglar gained his entrance by cutting a pane of glass out of the back window.

Louis E. Barnes, 21, colored, employed by the police department to catch a colored man who has been reported preying on unemployed and collecting money from them in promise of a job, has informed police that such a man got away from him on October 24. He is known to the police and will be picked up, they said.

Barnes said the man being sought told him to give him $2.50 for a white coat and he would get him a job in the kitchen of the Cooper Hospital. When Barnes returned with the money the man had disappeared..

Camden Police Detective Bureau - 1932
Click on Image to Enlarge - CLICK HERE TO SUPERSIZE


Camden Courier-Post - February 6, 1933

Two Youths Escape After
Robbing North Camden Grocery Store

A bullet whizzing past them caused several men to cease pursuit of two bandits on Elm street near Ninth Saturday night after the pair had obtained $18.75 in the holdup of a grocery store proprietor at 841 Elm Street.

The victim was Herman Kacmowitz, whose store was broken into and robbed twice recently. Kacmowitz said the two youths, about 17 years old, entered and asked for candy. When he started to get it, one pointed a pistol at him and demanded that he "stick 'em up."

While the one "covered" him the with the weapon, the other robbed the cash register. As they fled, Kacmowitz ran after them screaming. His alarm attracted the attention of several men passing, who started in pursuit of the bandits east on Elm  street. One fired a pistol, however, and the men abandoned the chase.

The youths were about five feet five, Kacmowitz said, and wore gray caps. One had a dark gray overcoat and the other's was a light gray.

Detectives Joseph Carpani and Sylvester McGrath are investigating.

A purse-snatching and theft of a leather bag from an automobile also were reported to police. The theft of brass and copper fittings also is under investigation with a 17-year-old youth under arrest.

Anna Whiteman, 16, 1606 Pershing Street, reported that two boys, about 15, snatched her purse containing $1 while she walked with a companion, Ada Hans, 16, of 1342 Lansdowne Avenue, on Lansdowne near Norris Street. She pursued the boys but was compelled to give up the chase when she slipped and fell.

A black leather bag was stolen from the car of Frank Grotaski, of Cape May, parked Saturday night at Fifth and Arch Streets. The door of the car was forced open. The empty bag, minus clothes and letters it had contained, was found later by two boys in an alley on South Sixth street, near Stevens.

At liberty, under $500 bail, George Dotterer, 17, of 928 North Twenty-fourth street, is charged with larceny, although the brass and copper fittings he is suspected of stealing have not been identified as to ownership.

Dotterer was arrested by Patrolman Herbert Botts when the youth asked for aid in recovery of the fittings from a junk man to whom he had "sold" the goods. He said the man, George Elliott, of Twenty-fourth and Pierce avenue, kept the fittings and refused to pay him.

Botts presumed after examining the fittings "they could not have been picked up as junk" and arrested the youth in the belief they had been stolen from the Pavonia railroad shops. Detective Sergeant Joseph Tully declared the fittings had not been stolen from the shops. The boy is to face Police Judge Garfield Pancoast this morning.

World War II Draft Card
Click on Images to Enlarge

Camden Courier-Post - September 27, 1948

'Wes' McGrath, Ex-Sleuth, Dies 

Sylvester "Wes" McGrath, 68. retired Camden city detective, was found dead in bed this morning in the home of a daughter, Mrs. James M. Fallon; 811 North Twenty-eighth Street

Mrs. Fallon called Dr. J. Edward Brown, of Pennsauken, who pronounced Mr. McGrath dead. Coroner Inglesby issued a certificate giving a heart attack as the cause of death. 

Mr. McGrath, who was born in Philadelphia, lived in Camden more than 50 years. He was a member of the Ninth Ward Republican Association. 

McGrath served a number or years in the city the fire department. He was transferred to the police department July 16, 1918. He was appointed a detective September 1, 1927, and retired March 15, 1933. 

Also surviving are three other daughters, Mrs. Edward Paul, Mrs. William Seeds and Miss Ethel McGrath, all of Camden, and seven grandchildren. His wife, Gertrude, died in 1931. 

Funeral arrangements are being made through B. C. Schroeder & Sons, 715 Cooper Street.