Wednesday, May 24, 2023

May 24, 1879: The Death of an Abandoned Wife

Twenty-year-old Jennie Fouts, separated from her husband, lived behind the First Presbyterian Church on New York Street in Cincinnati. On May 15, she collapsed on the street. When others attended to her, Jennie reported having suffered from a dull, aching pain for several days.

She took to her bed, where she was cared for until the evening of May 19, when she was admitted to City Hospital. There, she vomited a black fluid that tested positive for blood. Since this is a symptom of the yellow fever, which had killed three people in the previous few weeks, doctors treated her for that ailment.

She died on May 24, 1879. After her death authorities made contact with a doctor who had treated Jennie prior to her admission and found her to be suffering from an abortion. She would not divulge the name of her abortionist or of her baby's father.

After news broke of Jennie's death, a man calling himself John F. Essler, and claiming to be Jennie's husband, wrote a letter to the coroner stating that he had come to Cincinnati during the first week in April and spent a night pledging to reconcile with Jennie. He had no intention of doing so, instead skipping town with another man's wife. The coroner responded with an open letter which reads in part:
You state that you are the lawful husband of Jennie Fouts; that you obtained all the facts in relation to her unfortunate death through the Indianapolis papers. You ask: "Was she decently interred?" She was, in Crown Hill. She had some true friends who stood by her to the last, and they should be honored for fidelity to that unfortunate woman. Now, sir, let me thank you for your communication. It only confirms the main points in the verdict rendered at the inquest. .... You communication has completely vindicated the honor of your unfortunate wife. Truth, justice and manhood demand that the world should know all the facts and they must and should be told. I will give you a reasonable time to publish them in your own way.
From this I conclude that Jennie's pregnancy probably resulted from that one night with her husband before he finally and totally abandoned her.

If the coroner ever made good his promise to share the secrets of Jennie's husband, they were never shared in any publication I could find.


No comments: