Ten-year-old Elizabeth Lewis died this date, September 13th, in 1850 of “Acute Bronchitis” and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. The heads of the family David and Sarah Davis were sixty-six-years old and forty-nine-years old respectively. The U.S. 1850 Census lists the following family members: Ellinor who was twenty-three-years-old, Margaret who was twenty-years-old and Charles who was nine-years-old. It is unclear who Elizabeth’s parents were.
The six family members lived in one room on Quince Street, a small thoroughfare located from Walnut to Locust Streets and between 11th and 12th Streets, according to the 1847 African American Census. The Lewis family paid $4.50 a month in rent. Mr. Lewis would have earned between $4 and $7 a week as a coachman, while Ms. Davis would earn $.75 to $1.25 a week as a laundress.
The red pin illustrates the location of the Davis home on Quince Street. The narrow thoroughfare extended from Lombard Street to Walnut Street, west of 11th Street. The red star illustrates the location of Penn Square, the future location of Philadelphia’s City Hall.
Above is a 1926 photo of Jessup Street, formerly Prosperous Alley.
Elizabeth and Charles attended the private school of Ms. Diana Smith on Prosperous Alley, a block away from their home. Elizabeth’s teacher Diana Smith was African American and established her school in her home in 1836. She would normally have between 15 to 25 students enrolled. Many Black families sent their children to private schools. The publicly segregated “Black schools” had a ratio of 60 students to one teacher and that was one of the better ratios. The white teachers assigned to these schools were “the worst in the system” and normally “neglected and despised their pupils.” (Roger Lane, William Dorsey’s Philadelphia & Ours: On the Past and Future of the Black City in America, p. 135)
A nineteenth-century private school student body.
Ten-year-old Elizabeth Lewis died on a cloudy day in September in 1850 where the temperature rose to a high of 67°. She was buried at Bethel Burying Ground.
Note: This story was posted previously. The above is an update with new information. The older posting has been deleted.