Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Metcalfe Family of Philadelphia

Edward Betts and Ann Elizabeth Metcalfe married some time between 1836 and 1846, when their daughter Sarah was born in Baltimore. We know little about Ann, other than that she was born about 1820 in Philadelphia. Affidavits filed by Sarah's aunt, Rebecca Metcalfe, have provided us some information about the Metcalfe family in Philadelphia.

On June 15, 1903, Rebecca Metcalfe "aunt by marriage" of Sarah Lewis, the former Sarah Betts, filed a General Affidavit in support of Sarah's pension as the widow of Civil War veteran Richard Lewis. At the time the affidavit was filed, Rebecca was living at 606 Race St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Sarah's cousin, Bessie Metcalfe, also living at 606 Race St., also filed an affidavit on Sarah's behalf.

Location of 606 Race St.

Current maps show 606 Race St. on the southwest corner of 6th and Race Streets. This is approximately where the American College of Physicians is located today (in a building dating to the 1980s. Map).

Once a residential neighborhood, the northeast corner of this intersection is today is highway interchange and the southest corner is part of the National Constitution Center.

Little changed from the 19th century, the northeast corner of Race and 6th is Franklin Square park, which is currently which is being revitalized into a US History theme park.

Rebecca Metcalfe, widow of Joseph

Fortunately for our research, the Metcalfes lived at 606 Race St. continuously from at least 1854, allowing us to travel back through the years find the name of Sarah (Betts) Lewis's uncle, Joseph Metcalfe:

1900 Federal Census, ED 114, Ward 6, Division 7, p. 283, 606 Race St.
Metcalfe Rebecca head born March 1818 in Pennsylvania, widow, Real Estate
Metcalfe Elizabeth daughter born October 1844 in Pennsylvania, single
1890 Philadelphia City Directory
Metcalfe Rebecca, wid. Joseph Address: home 606 Race
(a George Viola was a barber working at 606 Race and living on 6th St.)
1880 Federal Census, ED 111, 6th Ward, 7th District., page 469B, 606 Race St.
Metcalfe Rebecca age 63, born Pennsylvania, widow
Metcalfe Elizabeth daughter, age 35 born Pennsylvania, single
(also living in this household was Hugo Scheda a lithographer, possibly boarding in the Metcalfe household).
1870 Philadelphia City Directory
Metcalf Rececca[sic], wid. Joseph, home 606 Race
Metcalf Thomas, purser, home 606 Race
1870 Federal Census, 6th Ward, 17th District, page 216B
Metcalf Rebecca age 52 born Pennsylvania keeps house
Metcalf Thomas age 27 born Pennsylvania purser on steamer
Metcalf Elizabeth age 24 born Pennsylvania at home
Note that the family name is Metcalfe, but is often written Metcalf in old directory and census records.

Joseph C. Metcalfe (~1818 - 1863)

From the information above, we know that Rebecca was married to Joseph Metcalfe, who died before 1870. They had at least one daughter, Elizabeth "Bessie" and probably one son, Thomas.

Earlier records give us more information about Joseph, who is presumably the brother of our ancestor, Ann Elizabeth (Metcalfe) Betts.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer, 03 Feb 1863 Death Notice; p.3
METCALFE - On the 30th ult., Joseph C. Metcalfe, in the 45th year of his age.
His relatives and friends, and the members of Robert Morris Lodge, No.29, of the I. O. of O. F., and the Order in general, also the Eagle Beneficial Society, are respectfully invited to attend the funeral, from his late residence, No. 606 Race street, this (Tuesday) afternoon, at 2 o’clk, without further notice.
(an 1862 article noted that Joseph was the secretary of the lodge)

1860 Federal Census, 6th Ward, 2nd Division, page 974
Metcalf Joseph age 42 born Pennsylvania, painter
Metcalf Rebecca age 42 born Pennsylvania
Metcalf Thomas age 17 born Pennsylvania, sail maker
Metcalf Elizabeth age 15 born Pennsylvania
1861 McElroy’s Philadelphia Directory
Metcalfe Joseph, painter, 606 Race
Metcalfe Joseph C., painter 606 Race
1860 McElroy’s Philadelphia City Directory
Metcalf Joseph, painter, N 10th ab Market, home 606 Race
Metcalfe Joseph, painter, 14 N 10th, home 606 Race
It seems likely that Joseph was listed twice in the 1860 and 1861 directories, because there is only one Joseph listed in the household in the 1860 Census.

Metcalfe Residence Prior to 1854

Before 1854, Joseph Metcalfe's residence was at 202 Sassafras St., rather than 606 Race St. This does not indicate that the Metcalfe family moved, however; in 1854, a number of Philadelphia streets were renamed and renumbered. Race Street was indeed originally called Sassafras, and 202 was on the southwest side of Sassafras near 6th.

In 1854 numbered Wards were also created. The 6th Ward was created from the eastern parts of the former Upper and Lower Delaware Wards (the boundary between Upper and Lower Delaware was Race/Sassafras St., with the south side of Sassafras in the Lower Delaware Ward).

1851 McElroy’s Philadelphia Directory
Metcalf Joseph C., painter, 202 Sassafras
There is a possible listing for Joseph in the 1850 Census: Lower Delaware Ward, page 72
Metcalf Joseph C. age 30 born Pennsylvania plasterer
Metcalf Margaret age 30 born Pennsylvania
Metcalf Thos. C. age 6 born Pennsylvania
Metcalf Elizabeth age 5 born Pennsylvania
Metcalf Kate age 1 born Pennsylvania
Metcalf Mary A. age 50 born Pennsylvania
This is presumably the correct family, because the ages of Joseph, Thomas and Elizabeth match the later census records, and they are living in the expected area. However, this entry raises more questions than it answers.

-- is Margaret the same person as Rebecca in the later census records, or was Rebecca Joseph's second wife?
-- did Kate, age 1, die before 1860?
-- is Mary A. Metcalf, age 50, Joseph's (and therefore Ann's) mother?

There is no Joseph Metcalf listed in 1843 (or earlier) Philadelphia city directories.

1890 Philadelphia City Directory (requires pdf viewer plugin (such as Acrobat Reader)).

There are numerous pictures and paintings of the neighborhood around 6th and Race Streets.
Southwest Corner of 6th and Arch Streets, 1879, Northwest Corner of Race and Fifth Streets, 1888, 6th and Vine Streets, 1883 (from the Watercolors of Benjamin R. Evans Collection at Bryn Mawr)
Edward Pennington's Countinghouse, 409 Race St. ("On the Northeast corner of Race and Crown Street, his sugar factory was in the rear, facing Crown Street; the building in view is an extensive enlargement of the old 'Sugar house'.") and Old house at the corner of 6th and Cherry Sts. (from the Frederick DeBourg Richards (1822-1903) Photograph Collection)
•The Independence Park area today.

Old Maps:
606 Race St. is in Philadelphia's 6th Ward (since 1854)
Intersection of 6th and Race (click for a closeup view of each quadrant) from the Hexamer & Locher Atlas of Philadelphia, 1858-1862 (squinting at the houses to the southwest of the intersection of 6th and Race, the addresses could be in the low 600s - or maybe it's my imagination)
1897 Philadelphia map
1846 Philadelphia map showing the Wards.

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