Thirty-nine-year-old James Johnson Richmond died this date, October 3rd, in 1853 of Tuberculosis and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. He was employed as a shoemaker at the time of his death. However, three years earlier he worked as a waiter earning $7.50 a week, which was almost double of what the normal income for the average Black man in the same occupation. Mr. Richmond was married to Charlotte Richmond who was thirty-three at the time of her husband’s death. She was employed as a laundress, according to the 1847 Philadelphia African American Census. The Richmonds had two sons, John and Peter, who were nine and seven years old respectively at the time of their father’s death. They lost another son Robert on November 4, 1851 to Tuberculosis when the child was eighteen-month-old. He was buried at Lebanon Cemetery. The parents and children were all born free and in Pennsylvania.
The Richmond family lived in a northern district of the county of Philadelphia called “Northern Liberties.” They lived in a room at 417 N. 4th Street, a heavy industrial neighborhood, for which they paid $1.75 a month. The children went to local schools for Black children.
The disease that took the lives of Mr. Richmond and his son Robert was a product of cramped and unventilated living conditions. Tuberculosis was responsible for taking more lives than most other diseases combined. Below are several photographs of the actual alleys that existed near the Richmond family’s home.
Ms. Charlotte Richmond and her children buried their husband and father on an autumn day in 1853 at the Bethel Burying Ground.