The 10-day-old son of Sarah Bailey died this date, June 24th, in 1854 of Asthenia and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. Asthenia occurs at the end of the first or beginning of the second week of the infant’s life. It is an infection of the umbilical cord and causes severe symptoms that included a rash and swelling downwards over the lower abdomen and limbs with sloughing of the skin and exposure of muscles. Symptoms also include vomiting, diarrhea, drowsiness, and seizures. It is fatal in newborns.

Ms. Bailey sought help for her baby at the Southern Dispensary (clinic) at 318 Bainbridge Street and saw Dr. Andrew J. Smiley. There was nothing known to medical science at that time that could have saved the infant.

I cannot determine with absolute certainty Ms. Bailey’s identity in city directories or local/federal censuses. It appears she may have been the spouse of Richard Bailey who lived at 263 Spruce Street, only three blocks from the clinic according to the 1847 African American Census (AAC).  Richard was a coal carrier and Sarah would have been a laundress. The Bailey’s were impoverished, according to the 1847 AAC.


The tyrant, Death, came rushing in,

Last night his power did shew,

Out of this world this child did take,

Death laid its visage low.

No more the pleasant child is seen

To please the parent’s eye,

The tender plant, so fresh and green,

Is in eternity.

Rev. Richard Allen (Hymn XLI, p. 64, “A Collection of Hymns and Spiritual Songs.”)