Beckett, described as tall and slim, apparently liked to fight,
and by his own admission had been up on charges twenty times by
"Wes" Beckett was appointed to the Camden Fire Department as an extra man
with Engine Company 2 on November 26, 1877 as a replacement for Pierce
Brown. He served until April of 1878, and was not reappointed.
Charles Todd replaced him on the Fire Department's table of
organization. Fire Department records do not have an address or
occupation for John W. Beckett, however then 1878 Camden City
Directory states that he worked as a laborer and was living on
South 8th Street below Central
Avenue. His widowed mother was also
listed at the same location. He also appears to have made an
attempt at operating a saloon at 700 Kaighn Avenue at that time.
In 1878 he was stabbed at South Fourth Street and Kaighn
1880 Census show John W. Beckett, his wife Annie and daughter
Irena living in an un-numbered house on Mulford Street. By 1882 he
had moved to Baxter
Street, at Ann
Street. The 1884-1885 City
Directory shows him living at 720 Kaighn Avenue, working as a
laborer. He opened a cigar store there soon afterwards, which was
listed in the 1885 City Directory.
1884 John Wesley Beckett witnessed a fight between William Greenan
and Charles Henry Jones, and was called on to testify in the
August 31, 1886 John W. Beckett was appointed to the Camden police
department. He is listed in the 1887-1888 and 1888-1889
Directories as a policeman, living at 710 Kaighn Avenue.
Directories from 1890-1891 through 1892-1893 show him living at
Avenue, working as a policeman. The 1893-1894 City
Directory shows that he moved to 1807 South 7th
Street, and was
still a police officer at the time of the directory's
compilation. He worked as a police officer as late as October
of 1893. The reason for his departure from the department are not
known, but he may well have been let go for political reasons, as
the Democrat-controlled Police Commission purged the department of
virtually all Republican members in 1893.
W. Beckett was still residing at 1807 South 7th
Street when the
1894-1895 City Directory was compiled, and was working as a laborer. He is
listed in the 1895-1896 Directory at that address, but moved to
1820 Kossuth Street prior to the compilation of the 1896 City
Directory. He died in 1896.
being the first black police officers in Camden, John W.
Beckett is noteworthy as he was the third black member of the
Camden Fire Department, coming into department after Pierce
Brown and Solomon