Thirty-year-old Harriet Edwards died this date February 22nd in 1851 of hemorrhaging of her lungs. Ms. Edwards reported to the 1850 federal census taker that she was thirty-years-old and stated the correct spelling of her name. The city coroner also errored in the date of her death. It was in 1851 not 1850.
Ms. Edwards collapsed at the corner of 5th and Spruce Streets in center city. The location was a block away from her home on Union Street. Her body was transported to the coroner’s office. Her husband Daniel was employed as a seaman and may not have been in the city. There is no record of the couple having children.
The 1847 Philadelphia African American Census reports that either Harriet or Daniel Edwards was formerly enslaved. It did not indicate which one. Both were born in Maryland. Ms. Edwards was self-employed as a laundress which was very strenuous work and dangerous to someone who had a serious illness. Mr. Edwards received $23 a month or $770 a month in modern currency as a “seaman.” The couple paid $3.50 a month or approximately $118.00 in modern currency for a room on Union Street. They belonged to a beneficial society that likely helped with the burial expenses.
The above photograph is of the intersection where Ms. Edwards collapsed and died. It was taken in 1859, almost eight years to the day of her death. Ms. Edwards, a “respectable” woman, died on a clear day where the temperature rose to 40 degrees. Her husband buried her, with dignity, at Bethel Burying Ground.