Twenty-five-year-old Mary Ann Dutertre died this date, September 11th, in 1843 of “exhaustion.” It is rare to see this cause of death in the death records. When it is mentioned it usually means death due to heat stroke. The weather records indicate a heat wave had locked the city in ninety-degree weather since the beginning of September. However, there possibly existed an underlying medical condition that made Ms. Dutertre more susceptible to the heat. She and her family lived in the tightly packed rows of Washington Court where the rooms were like ovens in the heat. This dead end alley was located only a block away from Mother Bethel Church.
Ms. Dutertre came from a large family and appears to have been the daughter-in-law of the head of the household Francis A. Dutertre. There were eight in the family. The adult men were employed as carpenters (“builders”) and one worked as a typesetter. The women were employed as dressmakers and tailoresses. According to the 1847 African American Census most could read and write and attended church services.
Census and city directories also spelled the family name “Duteer” and “Dutert.” The name “Dutertre” would become well-known decades later with Harriett Dutertre who was the proprietress of a very successful undertaking business.