Thirty-four-year-old Daniel Johnson died this date, June 15th, in 1854 of Tuberculosis and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. Mr. Johnson was employed as a porter until the onset of his illness. He was married to Anna Johnson, who was thirty-two-years-old at the time of her spouse’s death. There was no occupation reported for her. Both were born in Delaware, according to the 1850 U.S. Census. It appears they did not have children. Below is the family’s entry from the 1850 Census which includes two others residing in the same room with the Johnsons.
It was common for families to share a room to defray the cost of the rent, although there may have been a family connection. The 1852 Philadelphia City Directory has the Johnson couple residing at #23 Gilles’ Alley.
Gilles’ Alley was a narrow thoroughfare lined with wretched tenements. It was cobblestoned and without sewer connections. The overflowing outhouses were often used by the homeless for shelter. “It is safe to say not one house in the alley could pass an inspection without being condemned as prejudiced to health.”* In 1847, it was home to forty Black families totaling almost one hundred members. They were working as cake bakers, stevedores, seamen, cooks, shoemakers, domestics, and painters.
The Johnsons regularly attended religious services and were members of a beneficial society, according to the 1847 Census.
Anna Johnson buried her husband at Bethel Burying Ground on a clear June day where the temperature rose to 65 degrees by noon. Although it is not possible to be definitive, there is some evidence that Anna Johnson may have lived until June of 1893 when she died at 71 years old of heart disease and was buried at Lebanon Cemetery.
*W.E.B. DuBois, Philadelphia Negro, p. 307.