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Constance Kopp: Topics in Chronicling America

Constance Kopp went from potential blackmail victim to crime fighting detective. This guide provides access to materials related to the "Constance Kopp" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers

Introduction

"Constance the Cop." February 6, 1916. The Sunday Telegram (Clarksburg, WV), Image 32. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Step aside, thugs: There’s a new sheriff in town. “I got a revolver to protect us, and I soon had use for it,” declares Connie Kopp when interviewed about the midnight marauders intimidating her family. Her assistance with the arrest of an ex-con, for threatening to kidnap her sister, led to her role as detective. She went on to become deputy sheriff of Bergen County, New Jersey. Later on, the Kopp sisters managed their own private-detective agency. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.

Timeline

June 1914 A brand-new automobile driven by Henry Kaufman, a Paterson, N.J. silk manufacturer crashes into the Kopp family buggy. Soon after, the sisters Kopp start receiving anonymous threatening “black hand” letters and nocturnal prowlers begin to discharge revolvers and shotguns under the bedroom windows at Wyckoff Farm.
November 22, 1914 The Kopp family receives a letter demanding them to hand over $1,000 to a “woman dressed in black” under the penalty of having their home burned. Guards are stationed around the farm to protect the girls.
1915 Constance aids with the arrest of ex-convict, George Johnson, for threatening to kidnap her younger sister, Florette. This qualifies her for the role of deputy sheriff of Bergen County, New Jersey.
April 10, 1916 Constance dives into the Hackensack River and rescues Tony Hajanack, an insane prisoner who tried to drown himself.
November 14, 1916 Constance loses her job as Under Sheriff when John W. Courter is sworn in as the new sheriff; claiming that he “can’t find anything for Miss Kopp to do.” Miss Kopp, along with Under Sheriff Thomas English, claim that they are protected under the newly adopted Civil Service Law, which states that employees who have held their jobs 45 days prior to the election are retained despite of who wins.