Elizabeth and her family lived in the 700 block Bedford Street in the Moyamensing section of the county. Bedford Street was in a poor Black neighborhood constantly victimized by a viciously racist Irish gang calling itself the “Killers.” Called the “most prominent gang of the era”*, this band terrorized its victim with brutal beatings and attacks with straight razors and knives.** This is the gang that was involved in the anti-Black riots of the 1830s and 40s and started the infamous California House Riot, only nine months after little Elizabeth died.***
Looking at the 1847 African American Census, it is probable that Elizabeth’s father Edward Smith, a porter in a store. As of 1847 there was a total of eight members of the family (5 females and 3 males) at the no. 81 Bedford Street residence for which they paid $6 a month in rent. Mr. Smith brought home $4.50 a week from his work.
*Allen Steinberg, “The Transformation of Criminal Justice, Philadelphia 1800-1880,” 145.
** Philadelphia Inquirer, 23 July 1849.
***John Runcie, ” ‘Hunting the Nigs’ in Philadelphia: the Race Riot of August 1834″ Pennsylvania History, 39, 2, April 1972, 187-218 and Harry C. Silcox, “Philadelphia Politics from the Bottom Up – The Life of Irishman William McMullen, 1824-1901.”