Only nine weeks old, Charles Henry Nickers died this date, June 27th, in 1835 of “Summer Complaint” and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. It is likely that the child’s father was Samuel Knickers and that the attending physician misspelled the child’s last name. There is very little information on the family. Mr. Knickers did reply to the 1837 Philadelphia African American Census but that is the sole mention in available documents. There are no mentions in city directories.
Mr. Knickers lived with his spouse (unnamed) in a room at 165 Pine Street between 5th and 6th Streets. At that time, they had no children. They paid high rent at $6 a month. Mr. Knickers was employed as a brickmaker, likely making $4-$5 a week. There was no employment listed for Ms. Knickers.
A year before the Knickers lost their son, their neighborhood erupted into violence. Black churches and homes were burnt to the ground along with meeting halls and a tavern. Thousands of whites, bent on genocide, murdered and beat Black men and women. This went on for three days and nights without relief from the police. Black families fled the city, crossing the Delaware River to New Jersey.
Shortly after their son died, there was another attack on the Black community by white terrorists. Mr. and Ms. Knickers may have had enough and decided to leave “the most racist city in the North.”
The Knickers buried their infant son on a warm day in late June in 1835 at Bethel Burying Ground.
*”Summer Complaint” was an illness thought to be brought on by impure or spoiled milk. The infant would usually die from dehydration because of constant diarrhea.