Nine-month-old James Tate died this date, June 20th, in 1848 of Cancrum Oris*and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. The child’s parents were Arthur (41 y/o), and Margaret (30 y/o). Both were born in Maryland and one was formerly enslaved according to the 1847 Philadelphia African American Census. The rest of the family included Rachel (8 y/o), Daniel (7 y/o), John (6 y/o) and Samuel (5 y/o). All the children were born in Pennsylvania. Ms. Tate would give birth to another son, Frances, in December of 1849 according to the 1850 U.S. Census.
In 1847 Ms. Tate reported her occupation as a day worker. Mr. Tate reported his occupation as “porter.” By 1850 he was employed as the sexton of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. His duties included the management of Bethel Burying Ground where he buried his baby son three years before. Mr. Tate was a valuable member of the African Methodist Episcopal community in Philadelphia.
From “Bethel Gleanings” by Rev. Joseph S. Thompson, 1881, p. 23.
The family paid 1.75 a month for their room on Lombard Street near 8th Street. The 1847 Census reports the Tates lived in a three-story brick building with three other families.
*The disease that caused the child’s death is a very devastating bacterial infection of the mouth that erodes away all the tissue. Massive ulcers caused by bacterial infections infected the baby. Predisposing factors for the disease included malnutrition, dehydration, and unsafe drinking water. There was no treatment available at that time that would have saved the baby’s life.