Ms. Sarah Bacon gave birth to a stillborn female child on this date, January 9th, in 1848 who was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. According to a combination of the 1847 Philadelphia African American Census and the 1850 U.S. Census, Ms. Bacon was forty-one-year old at the time of her daughter’s birth. She had been born in Maryland and was self-employed as a laundress. The baby’s father was Dennis Bacon, forty-three years old, who was employed as a “hog carrier” or brick carrier. He also was born in Maryland. It appears that the couple did not have any children.
Ms. Bacon was one of four hundred fifty seven Philadelphia women who suffered a stillbirth in 1848, according to Board of Health records. Malnutrition robbed poor pregnant women of the necessary diet to carry healthy babies to term. Winters especially were harsh and the winter of 1848 in Philadelphia was exceptionally so. The Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers had frozen over earlier than usual, halting ship traffic and the work that comes with loading and unloading the giant sailing ships. Snow and rain made the roads a quagmire that buried delivery wagons up to their axles. (1) Any outdoor construction work would have been difficult, if not impossible. It is likely that Mr. Bacon was out of work and the couple may have been relying on charity soup kitchens for their one meal a day. Hopefully, they were able to receive relief from the beneficial societies to which they belonged through their church. (2)
Mary and Dennis Bacon lived in a room at #2 Eagle Court located near the intersection of 10th and Locust Streets, illustrated by the red pin on the above map. The red arrow indicates the location and proximity of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church at 6th and Lombard Streets. In 1847 Eagle Court was a small, dead end alley. It was home to thirty-seven Black families with a total of one hundred thirty four men, women, and children. The women were employed as dressmakers, laundresses, and domestic workers. The men were employed as waiters, porters, and white washers (painters). These quarters were perfectly designed to spread deadly diseases, such as tuberculosis and small pox.
On a bitterly cold day in January, Ms. Sarah Bacon suffered the delivery of her stillborn daughter who was buried, with dignity, at Bethel Burying Ground.
(1) Public Ledger, 12/26/1842 & 1/10/1843.
(2) 1847 Philadelphia African American Census