Six-year-old Monneacem Rigby died this date, December 26th, in 1851 of Peritonitis and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. A ruptured appendix or a wound could have caused the septic infection. He was the son of Nathan (24 years old), Kuria his mother (21 y/o), and his two-year-old brother Francis F. Rigby. All the family members were born in Pennsylvania, according to the 1850 U.S. Census.
In the 1850, Census Nathan Rigby reported his occupation as “Docteur” which is French for doctor. He worked out of his home at #188 Shippen Street (now Bainbridge Street) where he used herbs to create powder, pills, and potions for some of the ailments listed below. He was one of ten Black men in the 1847 Philadelphia African American Census that are listed as an “herb doctor.” Ms. Rigby was a homemaker and was pregnant at the time of her son’s death. (1)
According to the 1847 Census, the Rigby family were boarders at #118 Shippen. The family of three (pre-Francis’s birth) lived in one room or only part of a room. They likely paid ~ $0.50 a week in rent. Mr. Rigby reported his annual income as $200/ ~$3.85 a week. (2) They lived with five other boarders, possibly on the first floor of a house that consisted of three rooms.
Also within the black circle on the map was the Moyamensing Soup House, a charitable organization, where the destitute of the Moyamensing District could get a wholesome meal at least once a day. It appears that the Rigby family, given their financial situation, may have taken advantage of this service. Additionally, in the same block was the renowned school, the Institute for Colored Youth. Maybe Monneacem would have attended this school if his young life was not cut short.
The six-year-old son of Kuria and Nathan Rigby died on a day after a heavy snowfall and was buried, with dignity, at Bethel Burying Ground. The newspaper reported that the snow created excellent conditions for sleighing and that it appeared it was going to be “one of our old fashion winters.” (Philadelphia Inquirer, 27 December 1851, p.1.)
(1) Ms. Rigby lost a nine day old daughter on June 30, 1848 to an undiagnosed ailment. The infant was buried in the “Colored” section of Union Cemetery.
(2) Two hundred dollars equates to approximately $6,147 in modern currency.