One-hundred-year-old Sarah Stephens died this date, October 16th, in 1848 of kidney disease and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. Ms. Stephens worked as a seamstress, according to the 1847 African American Census. She was born in Albany, New York in 1748 during the time the Dutch settlers of Albany were still engaged in warfare with the union of Native Americans, known as the Six Nations. Enslaved Black men and women were reported to be in Albany as early as 1697. They were readily available to Dutch merchants and farmers because the settlement was on the Hudson River with easy waterway access from New York City. It is likely that Ms. Stephens was an ancestor of these early enslaved people.
Sarah Stephens lived with the Kennedy family in what was the southwestern part of the unconsolidated city at the time of her death. Robert and Liddey Kennedy, both 28 years of age, lived at #7 Gulielma Place with their two children, Robert R. (4) and Elizabeth (3). Both adults reported that were employed as musicians and house painters (whitewashers), according to the 1847 Philadelphia African American Census. There is no indication in census records of the blood relation, if any, with the Kennedy’s. Mr. Kennedy was born in Maryland while Ms. Kennedy was born in Delaware, according to the 1850 U.S. Census.
Sadly, the Kennedy’s lost a five-month-old daughter to intestinal disease in May of 1842. She was buried at Bethel Burying Ground which may have had something to do with Ms. Stephens also being interred there. Ms. Stephens was buried on a cloudless Autumn day where the temperature rose to 76 degrees by late afternoon.