Tuesday, July 09, 2013

A Death in a Different Era

Portland, July 8, 1888 – To day the Morgue was visited by hundreds of persons, drawn thither through motives of morbid curiosity to look at the body of the young woman who died suddenly yesterday in the office of Mrs. Dr. Murray-Blumauer. Many came in the hope of identifying the girl. Among those calling was a sister of the dead girl, who had no idea whose body lay at the Morgue. She was dreadfully shocked on recognizing the body as that of her sister, Mary Schneller. Her grief was inconsolable for several hours.”

Mary was 23 years old, originally from Middleton, Washington County. The circumstances of her death suggested an abortion. Her doctor, Frances Murray-Blumauer, was listed as a physician in Portland directories even after Mary's death, indicating that she was never held responsible, whether because she was innocent or because she had avoided being convicted of a crime is something I've been unable to determine.

Mary had moved to Portland about 10 years earlier, first working as a household cook, then as a hotel chambermaid. She left her employ at the Globe Hotel three months prior to her death and went to Wallua to work in a hotel there. She returned to Portland, intending to marry John Miebus, a railroad brakeman.

Correspondence between the two of them indicate that Mary wanted to get married but John refused. “He was on the way home from playing a game of baseball this evening when met by a reporter. When told whose body it was at the Morgue he exhibited no signs of feeling or emotion.”

Dr. Murray-Blumauer had been born in 1837, and died December 14,1923 in Portland from "senility." She was a practicing allopath, and had graduated the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1873. (Directory of Deceased American Physician, 1804-1929)

“An Unfortunate Girl,” San Francisco Chronicle, July 9, 1888

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