Thirty-one-year-old Elizabeth Baxter died this date, December 31st, in 1847 of an illness that resulted in paralysis before she passed away. The paralysis could have been either from trauma or from a cerebral vascular accident. Little is known about Ms. Baxter’s personal history. The Baxter family is not recorded in the 1847 Philadelphia African American Census or in the 1850 U.S. Census. The 1847 Philadelphia City Directory shows a James Baxter also residing on Shippen Street (now Bainbridge) between 12th and 13th Streets. Mr. Baxter is employed as a waiter.
Shippen Street in 1847 was an overcrowded slum that was home to at least sixty-five Black households totaling over 250 family members. The vast majority of the working females were employed as washwomen while the males were essentially laborers in a wide range of businesses including wharf worker, porter/carrier, and rag picker. An 1847 census worker commented on Black residents on Shippen Street: “Tis a very difficult matter to tell how much these people make a week or month. Some make a considerable amount. Others make very little. The more poor and respectable the person, the less they make. This is true in respect to both male and females.”
Elizabeth Baxter was buried on a warm New Year’s Day at Bethel Burying Ground where the temperature reached fifty-four degrees.