The eight-week-old daughter of Daniel Sedler died this date, December 18th in 1844 of “Catarrh upon the breast” and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. The child likely died of either pneumonia and/or bronchitis. ‘Catarrh’ simply means congestion.
The 1847 Philadelphia African American Census shows a ‘Daniel Sadller’ living at #75 Carpenter Street in the Southwark District of the County of Philadelphia. There were three males and one female in the family. One was under the age of five and three were between the ages of 15 and 49 years of age. Their rent for their room on Carpenter Street was $4 a month. Mr. Sedler earned $4 a week, according to the 1847 Census.
Mr. Sadler was employed as a “sink cleaner.” This was a person who also was called a “night soil man” who had the job of scooping out cesspools (sinks) full of human waste. They worked at night and would empty their slop buckets into barrels on a horse-drawn cart that then would be dumped. The city government attempted to regulate where the waste was dumped but it would often be unloaded in vacant lots or in a nearby creek or river. Tragically, some men would dump the waste in storm drains where the fecal matter would leach into the soil and contaminate the neighborhood water wells and cause epidemics of Cholera and other diseases.
After the 1847 Census, the Sedler family disappears from census and city directory documents. The Census does tell us that Ms. Sedler’s occupation was listed as “carpet rags.”The first group of these women would scavage trash dumps for any clothing that was thrown out. The parts of the garment that could be salvaged were cut out, washed and sold. Larger quantities of these rags would be sold by the pound to sweatshops where the second group of women would take the fabric and braid it to make rugs like the one in the below photograph.
The Sedler infant daughter died on a day where “The weather was partly clear, having a great appearance of snow, which did not take place.” She was buried at Bethel Burying Ground.