The five-year-old child of Lewis and Elizabeth Roberts died this date, October 13th, in 1828 of Bilious Fever.* The child’s first name and gender are not recorded. Nine years later, the 1830 U.S. Census (below) reports that there is a total of seven individuals in the Roberts family and all were not native to Pennsylvania. Mr. Roberts did not appear in the Philadelphia city directories until 1837.
In 1837, according to the African American Census, Mr. Roberts was employed as a porter while Ms. Roberts was employed as a dressmaker. There was another adult woman in the household who worked as a milliner or a women’s hatmaker. The family lived at #29 Currant Alley, for which they paid $5.50 a month. That amount would be close to what Mr. Roberts would earn in a week.
Ninety-six Black families lived in the densely packed Currant 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.
Philadelphia Board of Health records show that the Roberts family child was one of 119 Philadelphians to die of Bilious Fever in 1828. Lewis and Elizabeth Roberts buried their child on an Indian Summer day at Bethel Burying Ground.