Monday, November 09, 2020

November 9: A Rather Mysterious Sort of Rookery

William J.F. Bullerman and his wife, Susan, ran "a rather mysterious sort of rookery" at 159 West Van Buren Street in Chicago. On November 8, 1879 police discovered a woman named Elizabeth Foley, aka Sarah Monshan, seriously ill with septicemia at that "rookery." Susan was a midwife and her husband passed himself off as a physician. Elizabeth hailed from Greenbush, Wisconsin, where her 18-month old child was living with her mother.

Police suspected that the abortion had probably been perpetrated by Dr. Franklin Brooks, "who, a few years ago, was awarded six years at Joliet for abortion." Elizabeth's sister, Mary Monshan, was also held as an accessory. 

They took Mrs. Foley to Cook County Hospital, where she died at 12:30 a.m. on November 9 To the end, Elizabeth denied having undergone an abortion. She insisted that she'd given birth and that her sister, Mary, and taken the child to their mother's home in Greenbaugh, Wisconsin. Mary denied this, and her employer told police that she'd not been out of town at all.

The post-mortem examination showed that Elizabeth had indeed died from an abortion. The Bullermans were easy enough to find and charge with a crime, since they were in the county lock-up for stealing $250 worth of natural gas by tapping into the gas main near their house.

As for Brooks, even after getting out of Joliet for abortion, and after Elizabeth's death, he continued to practice in Chicago. On December 22, 1891, a Swedish girl named Tillie Thom was found dead from an abortion at Brooks' office.

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