Monday, November 19, 2012

Deaths Back to the Civil War Era

James Anderson had already suffered much as autumn of 1862 passed. His eldest son, a soldier, had been killed in the line of duty in August, with word reaching the family in September. His wife had been so stricken with shock and grief at the loss of their son that she herself had died shortly thereafter. Then in October, his 20-year-old daughter, Clementina, disappeared. She had left on October 25, ostensibly to visit relatives, but word came that she had never arrived. What had become of her? James Anderson asked Clementina's suitor, A.L. Simms. All Simms would say was that perhaps Clementina had gone to visit friends. No more news came until the evening of November 19, when the doorbell rang at James Anderson's home. He answered to find a hackman holding what at first appeared to be a bundle of quilts in his arms. But when the man lay the bundle down on the sofa, Anderson saw that it was actually Clementina. James Anderson left the room briefly, overcome with emotion. In the moment her father was gone to compose himself, she breathed her last. Fate had dealt James Anderson a third tragic blow. And as the days progressed, the story came out: Simms had arranged for Dr. Edward Browne to perform an abortion that had fatally injured Clementina.

On November 19, 1913, 27-year-old homemaker Catherine Seabrooke died at St. Anthony's Hospital in Chicago from an abortion performed that day by an unknown perpetrator.

The influenza epidemic of 1918 was taking its toll on Colorado, with with nine deaths reported in a single 24-hour period, from November 11 to 12. This brought the total for the state up to 430. The natural preoccupation with the terrible epidemic may account for the scant news coverage given to the abortion death of Mary Lareau of Denver. Miss Helen Stoughton and Mrs. A. DeFoe, whose professions were not given, were arrested in her death. Geneology records indicate that Mary was the unmarried daughter of Franscois and Mary (Bauer) Lareau, and was born December 26, 1902 in St. Mary's, Kansas. This would have made her only 15 years old at the time of her death.

On November 19, 1924, 38-year-old homemaker Elizabeth Strazdas, a Lithuanian immigrant, died at Chicago's Mother Cabrini Hospital from complications of a criminal abortion performed that day. The person responsible for Elizabeth's death was never identified.

On December 31, 1935, criminal abortion charges were dropped against Dr. Tobias Ginsberg, and his nurse, because of insufficient evidence. The two were suspects in the November 19, 1935 abortion death of 24-year-old Mrs. Edith Eschrich.

Keep in mind that during the first two thirds of the 20th Century, while abortion was still illegal, there was a massive drop in maternal mortality, including mortality from abortion. Most researches attribute this plunge to improvements in public health and hygiene, the development of blood transfusion techniques, and the introduction of antibiotics. Learn more here.

external image MaternalMortality.gif

1 comment:

Jean said...

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