Five-year-old James Paschale died this date, May 9th, in 1836 of Tuberculosis and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. The 1837 Philadelphia African American Census points to Joseph Paschale being James’ father. The mother’s name is not recorded, which was standard protocol until the 1850 U.S. Census. Mr. Paschale worked as a porter while Ms. Paschale was employed as a “day worker.” There was a total of three family members and all were not born in Pennsylvania. It is not possible to tell if the third individual noted in the Census was five-year-old James. Censuses typically were taken during the Spring months, right around the time of the child’s death.
The Paschales lived in a room on Twelve-Feet-Alley for which they paid $2.15 a month in rent. Black and poor white Philadelphia citizens were forced to live in these airless, fetid pestholes and they bore the brunt of the diseases that haunted these tenements. This particular death trap was located between 5th and 6th Streets and South and Bainbridge Streets, just over the city boundary into the Southwark District.
These narrow alleys were unpaved paths that were badly drained and often blocked with filth and garbage of all kinds. No one chose to live in these plagues spots.
The 1837 Philadelphia African American Census reports that, in addition to the Paschale family, there were twelve other Black families on Twelve-Feet-Alley with a total of 46 family members. The males were employed as waiters, laborers, and seamen, whereas the females were employed as cooks, day workers, and servants.
Five-year-old James Paschale was buried on a day in May by his parents at Bethel Burying Ground. It appears that Ms. Paschale had given birth to a stillborn child on March 5, 1826. The child whose gender was not recorded also was buried at Bethel Burying Ground.