Thursday, September 29, 2016

Chicago and Rural New York, Early in the 20th Century

Four Early 20th Century Chicago Deaths

Rosalla Rockhill, age 19, died September 29, 1915 at Ravenswood Hospital in Chicago from an abortion. An unidentified midwife was blamed in Marie's death.

Twenty-one-year-old Anna Marie Dimford died the same day at Rhodes Avenue Hospital in Chicago.  Anna Marie's father was a farmer in Kewanee, Illinois, and her mother ran a boarding house. Anna, then 16 years old, was working in an iron mill to help support her five younger siblings. “The girl left the farm for Chicago thirteen months ago and for a long time her parents didn't know how she earned her livelihood. The last time they heard from her she wrote that she was employed as check girl in a restaurant, her mother said.” John Harris, a waiter, admitted to being the baby's father and to having paid $200 for the abortion. He gave the names and addresses of the doctors involved, both of whom fled. Dr. Harold M. Weinbert, who attended Anna in her final illness, said she named a Dr. Ness on the West Side as her abortionist. 

On September 29, 1917, 27-year-old Annie DeGroote, who worked as a salad maker, died in her Chicago home from a criminal abortion perpetrated by Dr. Emma J. Warren. Warren, as well as Annie's husband Herman, were arrested for her death. Warren was indicted on October 15, 1917, but the case never went to trial.

On September 29, 1923, 18-year-old Mollie Monilson, a native of Montreal, died in Chicago from complications of a criminal abortion. The person or persons responsible for her death were never identified or brought to justice, so we can't know if Mollie availed herself of one of the many physicians or midwives practicing abortion in Chicago at the time.

A Brooklyn Chiropractor, 1923

On September 29, 1923, 44-year-old Annie Allison, a London native living in Brooklyn, died at the office of chiropractor Henry Lee Mottard, who practiced under the name of Dr. Henry L. Green. Annie was a homemaker. Her husband, Herbert Allison, was a music professor. Annie was buried, but when suspicions were raised about her death her body was exhumed.

Mottard alleged that Annie had died after an accidental fall down an elevator shaft at the premises. However, Annie's death certificate, signed by another physician, attributed her death to chronic cardiac nephritis. Police, who were investigating Mottard for his suspected involvement in a kidnap/adoption scheme, were suspicious and had Annie exhumed. It was revealed that she had died from an abortion. Mottard was arrested on suspicion of homicide. 

During the investigation, police searched Mottard's ten-acre farm outside the city for evidence of more bodies after allegations arose that Mottard had also performed an abortion there on a young woman the previous January. Mottard admitted to having performed three abortions in the farmhouse but denied having performed the fatal one on Annie.

An operating room and a machine gun were found in the 14-room farmhouse. A second homicide case was filed against Mottard by officials of Suffolk County, where the farm was located. They had evidence that one of Mottard's rural abortion patients had suffered the same fate as Annie Allison.

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