The twenty-two-month-old son of Elias and Marsha Collins died August 10th in 1848 of Tabes Mesenteria and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. The infant’s name was not recorded. The cause of death was a disease of children which was caused by drinking milk from cows infected with a certain form of bacteria. The disease painfully destroys the lining of the stomach and results in rapid weight loss and death. With pasteurization, it is no longer a major problem.
The unnamed toddler was the only child of Elias (36 years) and Marsha (22 years) Collins, according to the 1847 Philadelphia African American Census. The couple had a 50-year-old woman, Caster Dumfries, residing with them. All were born in Virginia, according to the 1850 Federal Census. Ms. Dunfries may have been Ms. Collins’ mother.
Elias Collins was employed as a laborer and Marsha Collins as a laundress. The three adults and the baby lived in an 11’x11′ room on White’s Court for which they paid $1.67 a month.
The above photo is how White’s Court (renamed Addison) looks like currently. On this narrow alley, near 10th and Lombard Streets, the Collins’ were one of 25 families totaling 92 residents. They labored at jobs such as shoemaker, tailor, dressmaker, laundress, and waiter. Around the corner was the Shiloh Baptist Infant School that provided daycare for the families. It is likely that Baby Collins was enrolled there before his death.