The four-month-old child of Clayton and Rossa Medkiff Chapman died this date September 14th in 1822 of Tuberculosis and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. The Chapmans were married on October 29, 1818, at Old St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Old City Philadelphia. This was the same church where Richard Allen and Absalom Jones staged an exodus in 1787. Not all Black congregates followed the examples of the two community leaders that established Black churches.

Mr. Chapman had a shoemaker workshop in his home at 109 S. 5th Street very near Independence Hall. Ms. Chapman’s employment is not recorded. The newspaper item below shows that Mr. Chapman had at least one indentured apprentice involved in his business.

Screenshot 2017-09-13 09.48.43(2)
June 20, 1827, “Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser.” The Chapmans had moved to 185 Spruce Street by 1827.

“Binding out” poor children by their parents was not restricted to whites. Black parents did try to limit the indenture of their children to when they reached 18 to 20 years old only. Black parents frequently solicited the assistance of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society to rescue a child from violent treatment or from being kidnapped into enslavement. Run away Black indentured servants risked the chance of being picked up by authorities and sold as a slave.*

Sadly, the Chapmans lost another child (2y/o) just three months later. The youngster died of complications from Asthma and was buried with his or her sibling at Bethel Burying Ground.

Chapman second obit


*For further reading on Black Philadelphia indentures see Gary B. Nash’s “Forging Freedom,” p. 158-163.