By Michael Schreiber

Henry Bennett, age 39, died of a heart attack on Jan. 5, 1847, while on his job at an ice cream parlor on Queen Street. 

Bennett was a mariner by trade. A passenger list from the Forrester, a vessel that had arrived in Philadelphia on Dec. 31, 1826, lists 20-year-old Henry Bennet as a crew member, along with George Bennet, age 23.

Nineteen years later, apparently, Henry Bennett was serving ice cream to earn extra money between voyages. He and his wife, the former Margaret Harvey, lived three blocks from the ice cream shop, at 107 Swanson Street, two doors south of Queen.

The Public Ledger (Jan. 7, 1847) wrote that on the fateful night, Bennett collapsed “supposedly from a disease of the heart … and in about five minutes, he was a lifeless corpse.” Two physicians rushed to the scene but could not revive him. “He had been complaining for some time previous,” said the newspaper, “and several slight attacks preceded the one which proved fatal.”

The funeral took place the following Sunday afternoon at the house of the deceased on Swanson Street. Brothers from the Amity Lodge #19 of the Odd Fellows were in attendance. Sadly, just three years earlier, a funeral was held in the same house for Margaret’s 17-year-old brother, Robert. And the Bennetts’ four-year-old son Thomas had died a year before that.

However, it appears that Margaret lived a long life. A Margaret S. Bennett, widow, died on April 3, 1884, at age 78 and was buried in the Gloria Dei churchyard (either the gravestone is missing or the inscription has been erased). At her death, Margaret was living in the rear of 1103 Moyamensing Road. The 1870 census showed that she was living with her son Harry, who was a baby when his father passed away.

The place where Henry Bennett died, Robert G. Simpson’s ice cream parlor, was located on Queen St., seven doors east of Third. It advertised “Ice Creams of every flavour and of superior quality, and the extreme low prices of from 37 to 50 cents a quart.” The establishment was “fitted up in great taste,” one happy customer noted in an 1844 Philadelphia Inquirer advertisement. The premises were available for dinner and could be rented for evening parties. In the summertime, Simpson also ran branch ice cream shops in Cape May and in Cold Springs, N.J. By trade, Simpson was a shipwright.

Conservation Assessment

Marker 69
to the memory of
Henry Bennett

who departed this life
January 5th 1847
In the 39th year of his age.

Also of Julia daughter of
Henry and Margaret Bennett

who departed this life
Nov 19th 1836;
aged 14 months.

Also of Thomas son of
Henry and Margaret Bennett

who departed this life
Sept. 9th 1843
aged 4 years.

Death thou hast conquered me
I by thy darts is slain
But Christ shall conquer thee
And I shall rise again.

Type of Marker: Headstone
Material: Marble
Issues: Biogrowth, blistering, sugaring
Recommended Treatment: Cleaning w/biocide, consolidation, fill cracks

Historic Integrity: Intact
Structural Integrity: Good
Material Integrity: Good
Legible Inscription: Poor

Marker Details
Inventory Number: 69
Plot Number: 205
Historic Number: 440
Ledger Book Number: 101
Cemetery Section: 4
Orientation: West
Marker Height/Length (in): 33.5
Marker Width (in): 24
Marker Thickness/Depth (in): 1.5