The eleven-month-old unnamed son of Julia Thomas died this date, June 11th, in 1845 of Inanition (starvation) and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. Inanition may arise from diabetes or thyroid hormone disease. Two years after the death of her son, the 1847 Philadelphia African American Census shows Ms. Thomas the head of a small family that consisted of another woman and a female child. Ms. Thomas was employed as a “day worker” while the other adult was a wash woman. The child attended the St. Mary Street School.
City directories and the 1847 Census report Ms. Thomas’ address as #39 Currant Alley in center city Philadelphia. Currant Alley was a two-city-block long narrow thoroughfare. Ms. Thomas paid $3.25 a month for one room where the three family members resided. With the two women working, they would be lucky to bring that amount home in a week.
Ninety-six Black families lived in the densely packed alley with a staggering total of three hundred twenty-one Black family members, according to the 1847 Census. The Census also showed that the Currant Alley adults were solidly working class, having a wide range of laboring and domestic jobs to which African American men and women were restricted. The Thomas family attended church services regularly and contributed to a beneficial society, as did many of their neighbors.
Julia Thomas’ son was one of thirty-five Philadelphia children that died in 1845 with the diagnosis of Inanition. The child was buried at Bethel Burying Ground on a cloudy June day on which the temperature rose to 84 degrees.