Thirty-five-year-old Elizabeth Birmingham died this date, August 18th, in 1843 of Tuberculosis and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. It appears that her four-month-old son, James died the previous day of Cholera.
The documented family history of Ms. Birmingham and her family is thin. Samuel Birmingham is the only Black man with that last name listed in the 1838 Philadelphia African American Census and the 1839 and 1840 city directories. In addition, a seven-year-old boy, Samuel Birmingham, tragically, died a few months after his mother and brother, in October of 1838, and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. His cause of death was a ruptured blood vessel. He was likely Elizabeth and Samuel, Sr.’s son.
After 1840 Samuel Birmingham disappears from the censuses and city directories. Previously, it was reported that he was employed as a shoemaker and resided in Raspberry Alley. In 1840 he had a workshop in the cellar of 301 N. 2nd Street.
Ms. Birmingham was one of 1,517 Philadelphians to die of Tuberculosis (Consumption) between 1842 and 1843, according to Philadelphia Board of Health records. Baby James and his mother both died on days that were “partly clear and warm and pleasant.”(1) It would have been the custom to open Samuel. Jr.’s grave and inter mother and sons together at Bethel Burying Ground.
(1) North American, 2 Sept 1843, p. 2.