One-hundred five-year-old Lydia Ann Garrison died this date, May 16th, in 1846 of “old age” and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. She had led a long life without leaving anything but a small documented trail. Ms. Garrison or her spouse Robin, who predeceased her, are not recorded in any local or federal censuses. They were not reported in any city directories that I could locate.
According to the Pennsylvania Abolition Act of 1780, if you were Black and lived in Pennsylvania before 1780, you remained enslaved. Ms. Garrison was already at least 40 years of age at that time. According to the law, your children would be enslaved until the age of twenty-eight. Therefore, it was only after 1810 that a substantial community of free Blacks gathered in Philadelphia.
Out of surviving records, Ms. Garrison was not the oldest person buried at Bethel Burying Ground. There were two women interred who were older – one a 110-year-old and another 113 years of age.
Surviving city death certificates do not show any family members of Ms. Garrison buried at Bethel Burying Ground. Lydia Ann Garrison was interred on a warm day (68°) in May. It can be assumed she was of strong character and spirit.