Sixty-eight-year-old Susan Brown died this date, May 6th, in 1848 of “old age” and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. The year before she died, Ms. Brown cooperated with the 1847 Philadelphia African American Census. She reported that she lived in a room at 96 Gaskill Street with another woman who was under fifty years old and was employed as a laundress. Their relationship was not documented.
Ms. Brown did not report any employment for her self. She did receive public aid. The women paid $1.50 a month in rent for their room.
The 1847 Philadelphia African American Census shows Gaskill Street was home to 58 Black families with a total of 152 members. The adults were employed in various occupations that included mariner, chimney sweep, porter, wood sawyer, shopkeeper, sailmaker, harnessmaker, shoemakers, laundress, and waiter.
Gaskill Street was only an eight-foot-wide narrow cartway that was often clogged with garbage and ash from stoves. Heavy rains and overflowing cesspools would flood the basements with human excrement. Sewage would filter down to the water level and contaminate the drinking water at the local hand pump, causing illness and sometimes death. In the winter, snow and ice would make the thoroughfare impassable.
Ms. Susan Brown died on a Spring day in May and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground.