Mary Ann Robinson died this date, September 22nd, in 1842 of Tuberculosis (Phthisis) and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. Ms. Robinson was a widow without known living family members, so Dr. Van Dyke was not sure of her age which was approximately thirty-years-old.
According to the 1838 Philadelphia African American Census, Ms. Robinson was widowed at least four years before her death. If her husband was buried at Bethel Burying Ground, there is no surviving record of that event. She was self-employed as a washerwoman, living in a 10′ x 10′ room in Freytag’s Alley. The alley was located near the corner of 5th and Bainbridge Streets in the Southwark section of the county. Ms. Robinson paid $3 a month in rent which equates to approximately $100 in modern currency. The 1838 Census also reports that she had $175 in “personal property” which equates to approximately $5,850. This may have included cash saved in her benefical society account at her church, Bethel A.M.E. It likely helped cover the cost of her funeral and burial.
Ms. Robinson would have gone to Mr. Charles Rizer’s Apothecary on the southwest corner of 5th and Shippen Streets for any medicine to ease her pain. For peppermint candy or lozenges for her throat, all she needed to do was go across the street to Brooks Candy Store on the southeast corner of the intersection. It appears to have been a very popular establishment!
According to Philadelphia Board of Health records between 1841-1842, Ms. Robinson was one of the one thousand five hundred eighty-three Philadelphians to die of Tuberculosis. Ms. Robinson died on a day in September where the dawn arrived with the city coated in a “heavy frost” and the temperature remained in the teens all day. She was buried by friends, with dignity, at Bethel Burying Ground.