The stillborn daughter of Julia Pearce was delivered this date, July 18th, in 1849 and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground.
Dr. Thomas T. Smiley had his medical office on the northwest corner of 10th and Lombard Streets. Nearby lived a family of three generations of Black women. This family included Julia Pearce, 65 years old, her daughter, Hannah Pearce, thirty-two-years-old and Julia Pearce, the daughter of Hannah was seventeen-years-old. Young Julia lost her daughter in stillbirth with Dr. Smiley signing the death certificate. (See above)*
Sadly, the next day Dr. Smiley would sign the death certificate of the matriarch of the family who would pass away from Typhoid Fever.
Dr. Smiley was not done yet with the Pearce family. Tragically, two days later on the 21st, he would sign the death certificate of seventeen-year-old Julia Pearce who would die from Cholera. She was one of 148 Philadelphians to succumb to a vicious Cholera epidemic that week.
Both women would be buried with the new stillborn baby at Bethel Burying Ground. (See below)
The 1847 Philadelphia African American Census shows a “Julie Ann Pierce” as the head of a family of three females residing on Lombard Street. This would have been the eldest of the three women. Her occupation was reported as “nurse.” One other woman was reported as being “at service” working as a live-in domestic. Only two of the women were born in Pennsylvania.
The red pin represents the approximate location of the Pearce family home. The black arrow illustrates the location of Bethel A.M.E. Church where the women attended services.
The three women lived in one room at 363 Lombard Street in the 900 block of Lombard. Their rent for this tenement space was $2.25 a month, according to the 1847 Census. This amount would have been close to two weeks’ earnings for one of the working women.
Three Women on Lombard Street, circa 1900-1905. Temple University’s Urban Archives.
The stillborn baby and the two adult women died between July 18th and the 21st in 1849 and were buried at Bethel Burying Ground. A heatwave had just broken and the days were clear and moderate with temperatures ranging from morning lows in the low 70s to highs in the low 80s in the afternoon.
The survivor of that tragic week for the Pearce family was Harriet Pearce. She buried her mother, daughter and granddaughter all within several days. According to her death certificate, Ms. Pearce lived until she was fifty-four years old working as a housekeeper. Still living on Lombard Street, she died of an “abdominal abscess” (ulcer?) in August 1869 and was buried at Lebanon Cemetery.
*The ages of the Pearce women were gathered from the death certificates and the 1850 U.S. Census which recorded Harriet Pearson’s age.