Thirty-four-year-old John Goodin died this date, April 3rd, in 1853 of Debility and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. Debility is a symptom, not a cause of death. This condition could follow numerous chronic and acute illnesses. The 1847 African American Census reports Mr. Goodin was employed as a porter, earning a relatively good wage of $6 a week. His unnamed spouse worked as a wash woman. Also living at 320 Cedar Street with the couple was a child and two other unnamed adults. The monthly rent was $7.50. In addition, all four of the adults belonged to a beneficial society.
Mr. Goodin may have been employed at the South Street Distillery two blocks from his home. This business was known for its own brand of Rye Whiskey. The above illustration shows porters hauling material to and from the business.
John Goodin’s death certificate was signed by William and Henry Goodin. It appears that they might have been John’s brothers. According to the 1850 U.S. Census, Henry Goodin was a 32-year-old laborer who was born in Maryland. He was married with three children. His youngest and the only boy was named “John.” Information on Henry Goodin is slim. In the 1852 City Directory, there is someone with that name residing at #20 Middle Alley and occupied as a tailor.
By the time of Mr. John Goodin’s death, he lived on St. Mary’s Street near 7th Street. Known by both races as the “heart of the slums,” it would have been quite an economic fall for the family. St. Mary’s was a narrow thoroughfare lined with dilapidated hovels that were home to speakeasies, prostitution, gambling, and rooming houses that were overrun by rats. In addition, St. Mary’s Street was a perennial target of white mob violence, especially in 1840, 1842 and 1849.
Mr. Goodin died on a cool rainy day in early April where the temperature only rose to 48 degrees. Interestingly, a year later, a John Goodin, Sr., age 70, would die of a brain disease. It is unknown if they were related. Both were buried at Bethel Burying Ground.