Eighteen-year-old Henry Harman died this date, May 1st, in 1853 of Tuberculosis and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. At the time of his death, he likely still lived in the “Colored Division” of the Pennsylvania House of Refuge. The “House” initially was established for white “juvenile delinquents” in 1825. It took another twenty-five years before the authorities created one for Black boys and girls. The residents usually were arrested for petty crimes or vagrancy. Sentences were indeterminate.
Below is an undated photograph of two African American boys at the “Refuge.”*
There is no certainty in identifying Henry’s parents. Looking at the 1847 Philadelphia African American Census, the most likely are Levi and Harriet Harman living at 19 Middle Alley. Both were born in Delaware.
Eighteen-year-old Henry Harman died on a day where the weather “was truly spring-like and lovely – every way appropriate to the first of May.”** He was buried at Bethel Burying Ground.
**Philadelphia Inquirer, 1 May 1853.