The day old child of Ann and Henry Hays died this day, May 22nd, in 1836 and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. The birth was premature and the child was not able to survive. Ann, 17 years of age, was employed as a wash woman and Henry, 26 years of age, worked as a seaman and laborer, according to census and city directories. They lived in the area around Bethel AME Church at 6th and Lombard Streets. Both adults were born in Delaware.
The Hays’ exact home address wasn’t available until the 1847 Philadelphia African American Census. They lived in a 12’x12′ room in the rear of a three-story building on the northeast corner of 6th and Lombard Streets. (See red star on the above map.) It may have been a shed or a converted stable. For this, they paid approximately $2 a month. Mr. Hays reportedly earned $4.50 a month as a seaman and Ms. Hays earned $2.50 a month as a washwoman. The family did receive public aid in the form of firewood for the winters.
The 1850 U.S. Census shows that Henry and Ann Hays now had two children: John, four-years-old and Lydia A., ten-months-old. In addition, living with the family was eighty-one-year-old Dianah Brinkley who was also born in Delaware. She may have been Ms. Hays’ grandmother.
In late September and early October of 1850, the Hays family was in the epicenter of two large murderous race riots led by two savage white gangs – the “Killers” and “Stingers.” Dozens of Black men, women, and children were murdered or had their skulls cracked by bricks and cobblestones. A Black boy was shot in the head. Did the Hays family seek safety in Bethel Church? The congregants took up firearms to save their house of worship. Were the Hays part of the defense?
And there is this union of trial and mercy in the removal of a young child. We cannot rebel against God for taking them to heaven, and yet we cannot but mourn over our loss; what can we do . . . (Rev. William Henry Lewis – 1857)
Ann and Henry Hays buried their newborn at the Bethel Burying Ground on a Spring day in 1836.