The thirteen-month-old daughter of Ann and Emanuel Scott died this date, September 2nd, in 1846 of Pneumonia and was buried at Bethel Burying Ground. Ann (20 y/o) worked making door mats and Emanuel (22 y/o) worked as a laborer on the Delaware River wharfs. According to the 1847 Philadelphia African American Census, it appears that, at the time of their unnamed daughter’s death, they also had a three-year-old son. 


New York city had its “Five Points” and Philadelphia had Bedford Street. With its next door neighbor, St. Mary’s Street, it was renowned for its abject poverty, prostitution, gambling, and its streets covered with garbage and animal waste. It’s where an African American man lay dead for over two days before his corpse was removed from the gutter. The desperately poor were housed in old buildings, overcrowded, with no ventilation or running water and cellars that were more akin to cesspools. The rear yards previously were horse stables converted into dwellings scarcely fit to shelter the original tenants. Viral and bacterial epidemics would roar through the neighborhood taking the lives of its residents. Here the Scotts lived at 112 Bedford Street in a one 10’x10′ room for which they paid 75¢ a week. Mr. Scott reported in the 1847 Census that he earned $3.50 a week laboring. The Census does not record Ms. Scott’s income.

Bedford store front

The sketches above and below are depictions of Bedford Street several years after the Scott child died.

Bedford Street 1854

Ann Scott was born in Delaware and Emanuel in Virginia. They are typical of families with members buried at Bethel Burying Ground. They were hard working, industrious and family oriented. This young couple sent their oldest child to school to learn how to read and write, something the parents could not do. Despite their very limited finances, their dead child was not going to be buried in a potter’s field to lie forever, nameless and forgotten.

Bedford Street – The Five Points of Philadelphia