Forty-five-year-old Catharine Morris and her stillborn child died this date, December 26th, in 1820 and they were buried at Bethel Burying Ground. Ms. Morris died of Puerperal Fever, which is a bacterial infection of the female reproductive tract. The diagnosis is puzzling because, according to the medical literature, a fever of this kind commonly occurs between 1-4 days after the delivery. The above death certificate was written by Dr. Elijah Griffiths who appears to have had trouble with spelling and sentence construction on this day. The below Board of Health summary is clearer.
Ms. Morris’ home address is unknown. Looking at the 1820 Philadelphia City Directory, an educated guess would have Ms. Morris as the spouse of Abraham Morris who resided in Cleaver Alley off Walnut Street between 5th and 6th Street. This would put her home two blocks from her doctor and a block away from the Southern Dispensary, a medical clinic for the poor. However, this is just a guess. Mr. Morris’ occupation is listed as “laborer.”
The 1820 Philadelphia Board of Health reported that there were 185 stillbirths in the city during that year and 13 deaths from Puerperal Fever. From the surviving Bethel Burying Ground’s death certificates, there are 86 stillbirth babies interred. In addition, there are six women who reportedly died of Puerperal Fever.
Ms. Morris and her child were buried together on the day after Christmas in 1820 at the Bethel Burying Ground.