Two-year-old Charles White died this date, June 15th, in 1846 due to Hydrocephalus and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. According to the 1850 Federal Census, the child’s parents were Issac White (47 y/o) who was employed as a brickmaker and Eliza (39 y/o) who worked as a laundress. Both were born in the state of Delaware. At the date of their son’s death, they also were the parents of Louisa (10), Eliza, Jr. (6) and Harrison who was newly born. All the children were born in Pennsylvania.
The family lived in one room in a tenement on George Street for which they paid $3.31 a month. George Street, now Samson Street, is in center city Philadelphia. The 1600 block of George Street, near Rittenhouse Square, was home to sixteen African American families with a total of eighty-five members, according to the Philadelphia 1847 African American Census. The list of their occupations reflected that the majority of them were in that area to service the local wealthy white families and the upscale restaurants they frequented. There were numerous male barbers, waiters, and coachmen, while the women in the families were employed as seamstresses, laundresses, and domestics.
The cause of death for the two-year-old Charles White was hydrocephalus. The disease could be congenital or acquired. Which form of the disease the child had was not mentioned by the attending physician. The increase in central nervous system fluid pressing on the brain (“water on the brain”) almost always was fatal before the invention of modern anti-bacterial drugs and sterile surgical methods. The fatal increase of fluid on the brain could have been caused by numerous diseases including Mumps, German Measles, Meningitis, and Syphilis.
The White family buried their baby on an unusually “damp, raw, cold and cloudy” day in June. The following day the temperature would rise to 85 degrees.