The one-year-old son of Sarah and Gazaway Chase* died on February 5, 1848 of Tabes Mesenterica and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. The term “Tabes Mesenterica” was used up until the late 19th century to represent a group of illnesses in children that included malnutrition and swelling of the abdomen. Now that term is archaic and has been replaced by the term “tuberculosis of the mesenteric and retroperitoneal lymph nodes” or a type of cancer in the abdominal cavity.
The Chase family lived at 801 S. 10 Street; the southeast corner of 10th and Catharine Streets in the Southwark section of the county. He was a porter in a store and later a barber. Sarah took in washing and ironing according to 1847 African American Census.
“The Laundress,” Robert Henri (1916)
African Americans in antebellum Philadelphia were relegated, for the most part, to domestic services. The men were employed chiefly as barbers, porters, waiters, coachmen, butlers, stablemen, chimney sweeps and janitors. The women found employed as laundresses, nursemaids, hairdressers cooks, maids or day laborers. With the arrival of cheap Irish laborers, it became increasingly difficult for Black men to find work. In this extreme situation, “the Negro washerwoman rose to prominence. She became in many instances the sole breadwinner of the family. She washed and ironed while her all but idle husband brought in and carried the clothes back to the home.” This was especially evident in Philadelphia, according to renowned African American historian Carter G. Woodson. He adds, “Without a doubt many Negro family in the free States would have been reduced to utter destitution had it not been for the labor of the mother as a washerwoman. . . Foreigners immigrating into this country went freely into all menial work except washing and ironing, in which it seems that they could not compete with Negro women.” (The Negro Wage Earner by Lorenzo J. Greene and Carter G. Woodson, 1930, pp. 4-5.)
*The Christian Recorder, March 5, 1885
“Brother Gazaway Chase died. Jan. 29th, 1885, in the 74th year of his age. He was a member of the Church fifty-four years, of these he was 30 years a member of the Wesley A. M. E. Church. As a member of the church, he was much esteemed and dearly believed by all; he ever loved prosperity, and when the church was in her greatest adversities he ever stood faithful and an approved workman; he always felt that the church was his home, always a ready and a willing servant, not only to God, to the church, but to the community in which he lived. As a man of God he was a devout Christian, always working to attain the highest good; he was an exemplary man not merely talking the life of a Christian, but living, that men or his followers, as he was a class-leader, might not stumble or be misguided by his example; he was also a great worker in the Sabbath school, as he being an old veteran, as we may term it he was ever our counselor; he was attached to all things of the Church that were of service to it. A sermon was delivered by the pastor, M. V. Lawrence.”