Forty-one-year-old George Hansen died this date, March 15th, in 1846 of heart disease and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. He was born in Delaware in 1805 and moved to Philadelphia when he was eight years old. At the time of Mr. Hansen’s death, he was employed as a porter. His spouse, Mary Hansen, was employed as a domestic or “day worker.” It is not clear but they may have had a daughter. According to the 1838 Philadelphia African American Census, Ms. Hansen was born in Pennsylvania.
Porters worked where ever something needed to be carried or hauled. Black men were employed in a variety of jobs from hotel porter to longshoremen on the docks of the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. They had to labor regardless if it was the steaming heat of the summer or the deadly cold of the winter. If you didn’t work, you didn’t get paid. If you didn’t get paid, the family didn’t eat or the rent wasn’t paid.
The Hansen family resided on Mercer Street, a short, narrow thoroughfare near 10th and Locust Streets in south-central Philadelphia. They lived in one room for which they paid approximately $2.50 a month. Mr. Hansen would have made between $3 and $5 a week and Ms. Hansen $1-$2. Mercer Street was renamed Manship Street after the Civil War. It no longer exists.
Mr. Hansen died at forty-one-years old. The average age of death for Black males during this period was approximately 44-45 years of age.
George Hansen died on a warm and very windy March day. This was after two days of a strong storm that saw rainfall “in torrents” that flooded the city and put the Schuylkill River wharves under five feet of water.