Twelve-year-old Robert Sadler died this date, November 17th, in 1846 of Pneumonia and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. He was the son of William H. (37 y/o) and Hester Sadler (27 y/o). In addition, Robert was the brother of Ellen (possibly a twin) and three-year-old Rosana. Mr. Sadler worked as an oysterman and, during the winter months, as a waiter. Ms. Sadler worked as a laundress. All the children attended private daycare and school (Shiloh Infant School and Ms. Mary Till’s private school). The 1850 Federal census also lists Mary Davis (22 y/o) and Anna Harris (15 y/o) living with the Sadler family in the rear of #40 Bonsall Street (now Rodman Street). All of the Sadler family members and Ms. Davis were born in Pennsylvania. Ms. Harris was born in Delaware according to the 1850 Federal Census.
As a 20-year-old young man, William Sadler was a seaman as evidenced by his application for a U.S. Citizenship Affidavit of U.S. Born Seaman. This document was a nineteenth-century version of a passport that would assist an individual if an attempt was made against him to be kidnapped or “pressed” into service by the British.
Below is the approximate location of the Sadler home at 40 Bonsall Street. They lived in a shanty behind the main house that was little more than a shed or old stable for which they paid $4.85 a month for rent. The Sadlers were a proud family who regularly attended church services at Bethel AME and belonged to a beneficial society which likely assisted in paying for young Robert’s funeral expenses. William and Hester Sadler both were members of a temperance society, according to the 1838 and 1847 Philadelphia African American Censuses.
Ms. Sadler died in January of 1869 of “old age” at 60 years of age. Living to sixty was well beyond the average life expectancy of a Black female of that era which was 35 years of age. For a Black male, it was 32.5 years; white female/ 42.9 years and white male/40.4 years. Mr. Sadler’s death certificate was not found.