Two-year-old Georgiana Kinnard died this date, September 28th, in 1844 of Pneumonia and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. After surveying census records, I am convinced that Georgiana’s parents were Elizabeth and Cyrus Kinnard. Ms. Kinnard was thirty-years-old at the time of her daughter’s death and he was thirty-four-years old. Mr. Kinnard was born in Maryland while Ms. Kinnard was born in Delaware. They had two other children: Matilda, who was six-years-old, and Rebecca, who was a year old. It appears that Ms. Kinnard was pregnant with her son Cyrus, Jr. (1)
In the 1847 Philadelphia African American Census, Mr. Kinnard reported that he was born to an enslaved mother. He also stated that he was not manumitted nor did he buy his freedom, which leaves the probability that Mr. Kinnard was a succesful passenger on the Underground Railroad! He was employed as a waiter and, in 1847, reported his earnings as only $15 a month. Ms. Kinnard was self-employed as a washerwoman which she did while pregnant and caring for children at home.
Two-year-old Georgiana lived with her parents and siblings in one room at #18 Acorn Alley for which they paid $1.50 a month, which is a clear sign of poverty along with Mr. Kinnard’s low income. The modern currency equivalent for $1.50 is approximately $50.00. The Census reports the family had $75 in personal property or $2,500 in modern currency. This would include furniture, tools, and clothes.
Georgiana was one of 211 children who died from Pneumonia between 1846 and 1847, according to the Philadelphia Board of Health records. The treatment for her illness was bloodletting. She would have been cut by the doctor and several spoonfuls of blood would have been taken from her little arms on a regular basis. The more conservative physician might just apply leeches to draw the blood out. Bloodletting is the withdrawal of blood based on an ancient system of medicine in which fluids were regarded as “humours” that had to remain in proper balance to maintain health.
The child’s parents may have gone to Powel’s Apothecary at the corner to buy a liquid “elixir” that usually contained opiates and alcohol that did not help cure the condition. The family also may have contacted an African American herbalist to use traditional medical methods. There were ten Black herbalists in the community, according to the 1847 Census.
Georgiana died on a Saturday in late September that saw a storm of heavy rain and damaging wind. She was buried, with dignity, at Bethel Burying Ground.
(1) By the 1850 Federal Census the Kinnards also had James H. (4 y/o), Mary L. (2 y/o), and July A. (4 months old). All the children were born in Philadelphia.