17 November 2015

On This Day: Lancaster widow left destitute

A Lancaster widow has been left destitute. Mrs. Peterman, of 321 Concord alley in Lancaster City, lost her husband a few months ago. Three months ago she lost a child. Another child died last week and On This Day in 1880 another child lay dying.  

The Peterman family reportedly has nothing to eat. Neighbors help where they can but are said to be scared to visit since the children are believed to have died of diphtheria. Contributions for the family were being accepted at several locations in the City. 

The Lebanon Daily News published an article of “an unusually sad case” involving the Peterman family which gave more details. The article notes that the father, George Peterman, was alive just eight months prior. He was in ill health and barely able at that time to feed his wife and their nine children. This article, published only a week after the one in Lancaster paper, states that the children died one by one, starving to death. After the sixth child died, money that had been collected in the community was taken to the widow. Upon reaching the house however it was noticed that a crape was upon the door. The day before another child – a four year old boy this time – had died of diphtheria. This poor widow, who had reportedly enjoyed good health before the death of her husband, now had but two children left alive. 

George Peterman, according to the US Federal Census Mortality Schedule, was 45 when he died in March 1880 of dropsy. He was born in Germany and made his living as a brewer. 

Lancaster Daily Intelligencer. (Lancaster, PA), 17 November 1880. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress.  

Lebanon Daily News (Lebanon, PA), 24 November 1880. Newspapers.com. 

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Non-Population Census Schedules for Pennsylvania, 1850-1880: Mortality; Archive Collection: M1838; Archive Roll Number: 10; Census Year: 1880; Census Place: Lancaster Ward 9, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Page: 1 


On This Day is a prompt to further explore historical events.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.