Thursday, August 31, 2023

August 31, 1910: Mystery Abortion in Chicago

On August 31, 1910, Mrs. Ellen Shirah, a 34-year-old Irish immigrant and mother of two, died in Augustana Hospital in Chicago that had been perpetrated in her home about two weeks prior to her death. The coroner's jury determined that a doctor had been responsible but did not identify him or her by name.

I've been unable to learn anything more about Ellen's death.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

August 29, 1927: Abused and Abandoned in Chicago

In August of 1927, fifteen-year-old Florence Kruse, a junior at Lindblom High School, confessed to her parents that she was pregnant. Corwyn Lynch, an insurance adjuster in his early 20s, promised to marry Florence, then disappeared on August 15, telling his landlady that he was going to California. The deserted teen was disconsolate and began talking about suicide. That's when her parents, Louis and Amanda, reached out to Dr. James Aldrich, age 71.

On August 19, Mr. and Mrs. Kruse took Florence Aldrich's office at 5941 Normal Boulevard. After the abortion, Florence remained at Aldrich's office, attended by his wife. Her condition deteriorated over the ensuing week, and she was taken to Augustana Hospital. The doctors who treated her there reported the case to the coroner's office. A deputy spoke to Mr. Kruse, who admitted what they'd done.

Florence died on August 29. Deputy Coroner Joseph Kveton conducted an inquest at the Reilly undertaking establishment. After the funeral he had the girl's parents, Florence's parents, charged as accessories before and after the fact. 

Mrs. Kruse wasn't home when police went to arrest her but was reportedly ill at another location. Mr. Kruse, evidently unable to raise the $5,000 bond, sat in a jail cell and threatened to kill Lynch.

The three parties in Chicago were released after the coroner's jury was unable to confirm that Aldrich had performed the abortion. The coroner recommended that Lynch be charged with murder.

I've been unable to learn anything more about the case.


August 29, 1926: Self-Induced in Pittsburgh

On Wednesday, August 18, 1926, 22-year-old Myrtle Schall's friends and her fiancé, Bruce Armstrong, brought her to West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh. She had been feverish and in pain for the past three weeks, and now she was in shock.

Bruce, who said he'd known Myrtle for six or seven years, knew only that his fiancée was terribly ill but didn't know why. Her mother, Alice Phillips, on the other hand, was able to tell the doctor more. Myrtle, she said, had attempted a self-induced abortion when her period had been two weeks later. At first her vaginal bleeding was a welcome sign that the abortion had worked, but when it continued for three weeks, accompanied by fever and pain, her family and friends had become concerned.

Myrtle had been perfectly well prior to inducing the abortion. Now she was vomiting and the doctors found her to be weak and anemic, with a rapid pulse and respiration and an alarming blood pressure of 136/100. In spite of all of the doctors' best efforts, Myrtle died from peritonitis at 8:15 p.m. on Sunday, August 29.

Myrtle's death certificate indicates that she was married to John Schall at the time of her death. Since Bruce was listened as the source of the information, and Myrtle was buried under her maiden name, it's likely that she and her husband were estranged and that she was awaiting a divorce so that she and Bruce could marry.

Myrtle Schall's death certificate

August 29, 1925: Nurse? Midwife? Abortionist.

 On August 29, 1925, Katarzyna Tobiasz, age 31 or 32, died at Chicago's St. Mary's Hospital from an abortion performed on her that day. A woman whose name is spelled once as Barbara Kolur and elsewhere as Barbara Kar was held by the coroner on August 31 for Katarzyna's death. Kolur/Kar's profession is given as nurse or midwife.  On July 5, 1927, she was indicted by a grand jury for felony murder in Katarzyna's death.

August 29, 1918: Chicago Doctors Implicated

On August 29, 1918, 23-year-old homemaker Mabel Johnston died at Chicago's Cook County Hospital of blood poisoning caused by an abortion involving Dr. Nathan Smedley and Dr. Emma Warren. Both were arrested and arraigned but the case evidently never went to trial.

August 29, 1987: Filthy and Substandard in Chicago

Diane Watson was 27 years old, a mother of two, when she went to Hedd Surgi-Center in Chicago for a safe and legal abortion on August 29, 1987. Although Diane was over 12 weeks pregnant, Rudolph Moragne proceeded with the abortion, in violation of state regulations prohibiting outpatient abortions after 12 weeks. He ended up hitting a vein when injecting anesthetics. Diane had seizures and went into cardiac arrest. Moragne and the other physicians present -- Henry Pimentel, Ester Pimentel, and Calvin Williams -- failed to perform CPR. 

Diane's autopsy report attributed her death to "seizures due to anesthesia during an abortion," and made note of the recent pregnancy. Diane's death certificate, however, not only makes no mention of the abortion, but has the "no" box checked for whether or not the decedent had been pregnant during the previous three months.

Diane's family filed suit. A doctor reviewing the case said that Moragne and Hedd staff "deviated from the accepted standards of care [and] failed to appropriately and timely diagnose and treat intraoperative complications which resulted in her death." The clinic, Diane's family asserted, lacked the proper equipment to handle emergencies and nobody had been monitoring Diane's vital signs during the procedure.

The state Health Department had already been investigating Hedd for numerous deficiencies. Pimentel ended up paying out $1.8 million (over $6 million in 2020 dollars) in six malpractice suits, including a $500,000 (c. $1.16m)settlement to Diane's family.

Another abortion patient, Magnolia Reed Thomas, bled to death when Moragne failed to diagnose her ectopic pregnancy when she came to him at Hedd for a safe, legal abortion. Pimentel's license was suspended in 1990 for fraudulent insurance billing. He had already been banned from the state's Medicaid program for "grossly inferior care."  The clinic's license was finally revoked in 1991, and Pimentel was ordered to sell it due to problems with sanitation and infection control -- including mold on the breathing tubes and mouse droppings in the procedure rooms -- and expired medications.

Watch the YouTube video.

Monday, August 28, 2023

August 28, 1926: No Sign of Justice for Mother of Ten

On August 28, 1926, 44-year-old Margaret Muscia, an Italian immigrant and mother of 10, died from a criminal abortion performed that day in Chicago. Mrs. Minnie Miller, alias Molinaro, was arrested on July 10 for Margaret's death. Minnie's profession is not given. On November 15, she was indicted for felony murder by a grand jury. (Source: Homicide in Chicago Interactive Database; census records)

Sunday, August 27, 2023

August 27, 1970: Undetermined Abortionist in Cleveland

Victoria Seronka, a 17-year-old homemaker, died on August 27, 1970 in transit by ambulance to Southwest General Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio.  

Doctors said that she was 3 months pregnant, and an autopsy revealed signs of an attempted abortion.  

Original sources lost with loss of original Cemetery of Choice wiki. Additional information from Ohio death record.

Friday, August 25, 2023

August 25, 1893: Widower Gets Teen Housekeeper Pregnant

 In April of 1893, 17-year-old Ada Hawk was living with her parents, Eliza J. and Samuel M. Hawk  in Walnut Grove, Missouri. John O. Edmonson, a bank vice-president and middle-aged widower, hired her to serve as a live-in housekeeper for the home he shared with his mother in Greene County, about a mile from her family.

When summer came, Edmonson began trying to cajole several men into marrying Ada so that her impending baby would have a legitimate father. This was a plan she reportedly resented. Unwilling to marry Ada himself and unable to recruit another husband for her, Edmonson began asking around for the best way to "get rid of it." Ada seemed willing to go along with this plan. She and Edmonson first tried inserting a rubber catheter, to no effect. Edmonson consulted with a druggist who said he didn't know how to cause an abortion. Edmonson asked if whiskey and "Indian  turnip," more commonly known as Jack-in-the-pulpit, would do the job. King indicated that there was a place near Walnut Grove where Indian turnip could be found.
Having had no success with the catheter -- or, if they tried it, "Indian turnip" -- Edmonson took Ada to Springfield on July 10, where a doctor had supposedly agreed to perform an abortion for $50 (over $1,400 in 2020 dollars). Ada then checked in to the Commercial boarding house in Springfield with Edmonson on August 28. The elderly Mrs. Donaldson, who was keeping the boarding house, insisted that while Ada had told her of the pregnancy and requested help getting rid of it, she'd refused to do anything to abort the pregnancy. Evidently, at some point in the journey, some sort of concoction was also given to Ada.
Ada's mother reported that Ada had come home on August 1 and had taken sick on the 5th, reporting pain in the stomach and bowels. Edmonson coached Ada on how to hide the abortion from her mother and was very attentive of her during her illness. Some two or three weeks passed during which Ada kept her secret and continued to take some greenish medicine Edmonson had provided. The medicine seemed to make Ada more ill. She bled heavily and passed a clot, which led her mother to wonder if her daughter had been pregnant and had aborted.
Both Ada's parents said that they insisted on sending for a doctor, wanting Dr. Hardin, the family physician. Ada, however would only consent to the doctor Edmonson chose, Dr. Perry. 
"That excited my suspicions that my daughter had not done right," Mr. Hawk testified. "I asked her about it but she made no reply. She never made any confidential statement to me after or during her sickness."
Dr. J. K. Perry testified that Edmonson had come to his office on August 21, asking him to tend to Ada for her headache and bowel pain. Perry arrived to find her with a fever of 103, and was told that she'd been delirious. He diagnosed her as having typhoid malarial fever and denied that she was pregnant when he treated her.

Perry came nine times to care for Ada, Mr. Hawk said, and always insisted that everybody leave the room while he attended to her.
As her health deteriorated, Ada realized that she was dying and said to her mother, "Ma, how I love you. You will keep our secret, won't you?"

Mrs. Hawk promised that she would.

"Well, Ma, I did miscarry the Saturday after I came home [August 5]." Ada had gone into the woods to deliver the baby, then returned to the house and acted as if nothing had happened.
The dying girl turned to Edmonson and said, "John, you know that it was yours, for you forced me, and you know you forced me. You know you did and you can be punished for it yet. Are you going to do what you said you would? You said you would take care of me, and if you don't I will commit suicide."

Edmonson told Ada to be quiet and stop making herself so upset.
Ada died on August 25. Mrs. Hawk further testified that after her daughter died, "Mr. Edmonson told me that if I would get my husband quiet he would do what was right by us. "

Ada's father testified that, "Mr. Edmonson did not ask me to keep my mouth shut in regard to my daughter's death, but he said he would pay for the hauling of the coffin and of the corpse. He said he would not go to my house so much only to keep suspicion down."

After Ada's death, Edmonson asked a Mr. Brown to help him dig a grave, telling Brown that "he wanted her buried quick" and that "the family wanted a shallow grave." Word got to the authorities about the suspicious circumstances. Edmonson was arrested then released on $500 bond (over $14,000 in 2020 dollars). The coroner arrived in town and had Ada's body exhumed, but it was too decomposed for him to be able to perform a satisfactory autopsy. Instead he held the inquest that brought the story out. 

Edmonson, for his part, had conveniently hopped into a buggy and stayed out of town for the entire time the coroner was there investigating Ada's death. This did little to help him, as the coroner swore out a new warrant and bond was set at $2,000 (over $57,000 in 2020 dollars).

When the time came for his trial, Edmonson managed to get a change of venue from Greene County to Taney County, which did nothing to help him. Edmonson was convicted of manslaughter in the second degree. Though he appealed his case the conviction was upheld. 
Edmonson, who had relocated to Springfield, married and become a father since Ada's death, was sentenced to three years in the state penitentiary. In an interview he told a reporter that he was innocent and appreciated the support he was getting from his many friends. He planned to petition the governor for clemency. 

August 25, 1871: The Trunk Mystery

  Who was the young woman whose decomposing body had been discovered in a trunk at a railroad depot? The police wanted to know -- and the friends and family of Alice Augusta Bowlsby wanted to know where she was. The two mysteries came tragically together that late summer of 1871. 

Alexander "Paddy" Potts, age 12, made money at the Hudson River Railroad Depot in New York City by selling candy and papers and by helping people with their packages. At around 1:00 on the afternoon of August 26, 1871, one-horse cab pulled up near where Paddy was waiting outside the ladies' entrance. Paddy ran up to the cab and opened the door. A shabbily-dressed woman who seemed to be around 18 or 19 years old handed the cab driver a $1 bill then turned to the boy. "Sonny, can you tell me where the ticket office is?" she asked.

Paddy went with her to the ticket office. She bought a ticket to Chicago, paying with two $20 bills and getting $18 in change. After chatting for a moment with the clerk, the young woman told Paddy that she'd changed her mind about going to Chicago herself and wanted to just check her baggage on the train. Paddy told her that she couldn't just put her baggage on the train; it had to be with a ticketed passenger. 

Paddy went with her to the baggage drop-off area and waited. The young woman recognized the wagon and beckoned the driver. The trunk was small -- less than three feet long -- but very heavy. Paddy and the driver each grabbed a handle put it on a baggage cart. The woman fussed about how the trunk was handled, stressing that it contained glass and other fragile items. Paddy went to the counter and told Frank Dunning, the baggage clerk, that the lady wanted her trunk checked to Chicago. 
The woman fretted that the lock was flimsy and said that she would like to have an extra strap around the trunk. Frank charged her a dollar for the strap, which he nailed into place. He had his doubts as to whether the trunk was sturdy enough to get to Chicago in one piece. The woman gave Frank $1 and her ticket. Franked punched the ticket and handed it back to the woman with a baggage check. 
With hours to go before the train was due to depart, the young woman asked Paddy where she could go to get something to eat. The boy walked her to Keenan's saloon, assuring the young woman that she had plenty of time to return in time to get a good seat on the train. Instead of going into the eatery, the woman told Paddy that she didn't have much money to buy something to eat, so she was going to meet some friends and would pay him more on her return. She then walked off and vanished into the crowd.

Hours later, when it came time to board the Chicago train, the flimsy trunk was hauled to the platform from the baggage room. The lid was jarred, and an overpowering stench filled the balmy summer air. The station master was called over. He had no trouble opening the cheap lock. He pried open the lid to find bloodstained quilts and rags covering the nude body of a young woman. She was frail and slight, doubled up and crammed into the small space. Her pale hair spilled over her body. Her blue eyes stared sightlessly at the horrified spectators.

A summoned police officer had the trunk and its grisly contents brought to the morgue. Dr. Cushman removed the body from the trunk, along with an army blanket, a quilt, a bed-tick, a chemise, and two white muslin rags. Nothing in the trunk provided a clue as to the young woman's identity.

The body had no external marks of trauma, though there was substantial decomposition. 

Dr. Cushman began the autopsy. All of the organs of the chest were found to be normal. Inside the pelvic area he found an enlarged uterus with a dilated cervix and remnants of a placenta, evidence of peritonitis, and uterine lacerations caused by a pointed instrument. 

Dr. Cushman concluded that the young woman had died from infection due to an abortion. 

The newspapers dubbed the mystery "The Trunk Case", and filled their pages with lurid descriptions of the crime and poetic descriptions of the victim. She was, the New York Times said, a "young girl ... [with] a face of singular loveliness... but her chief beauty was her great profusion of golden hair... that lay in heavy masses upon her breast." 

An appeal went out to the public to identify the dead girl. Crowds braved the smell to catch a glimpse of the young woman's body, which was kept on ice to try to slow decomposition. Despite some false leads, the woman's identity remained a mystery.

The police enlisted the help of young Paddy Potts. The boy remembered seeing the name "Tripp" on the wagon in question, leading the police in search of carters named Tripp, then Trapp, and dragging an innocent man into the police station and assuming that by denying being the carter in question, he was likely an accomplice in the murder.

Paddy was taken all around the city by the police in search of the wagon in question, to no avail.

Finally a man named William Pickett came forward. From reading the papers he'd realized that he was the carter the police were looking for. Paddy and Pickett recognized each other.

Pickett said that the young woman from the depot, who had given her name as Julia Sidney, had quibbled over the $1 fee but had paid it when Pickett went into a store and broke a $5 for her. She instructed him to go to the house at 687 Second Avenue and ring the basement bell. The trunk, she said, would be brought to him. 

Pickett had gone to the address and rung the bell as instructed. A man opened the door and let him in. Several women were present in the basement room. The man helped Pickett to carry the trunk to the cart, but didn't speak to him. Pickett described the man to the police, who knew that Dr. Jacob Rosenzweig, who matched the description the cart man had given, lived at the address in question.

They went to 687 Second Avenue and arrested Rosenzweig. That he was probably the "butcher" who had killed the young woman in the trunk came as no surprise to reporters and police detectives. He had, in fact, been one of the city's abortionists featured in a New York Times article, "The Evil of the Age," just a week earlier. 

After the arrest, Pickett identified Rosenzweig as the man who had handed the trunk off to him.

Though the police still had to complete their investigation, they were certain that they had identified the abortionist. They still had to identify the victim.

Meanwhile in Patterson, New Jersey, Caroline Bowlsby worried about her daughter, 25-year-old Alice. The young woman and her mother had been in Newark, helping to attend to her ailing uncle. Alice had left her aunt's home on the 23rd  to go to New York for the day. Clad in a white lawn dress with a blue sash and ribbons, she'd headed into the Big Apple to see a matinee and do some shopping. She hadn't been seen or heard from since. 

Mrs. Bowlsby asked the family dentist, Dr. Joseph T. Parker, what she should do. Parker, though worried that evil had befallen the young woman, tried to reassure the frantic mother that perhaps Alice had taken ill and was resting up somewhere before returning home.

Caroline had already suffered much. Her abusive, alcoholic husband had abandoned her to care for their three daughters. The four of them lived together, working as dressmakers. Alice also taught Sunday school. She had her share of attention from men, but had formed a relationship with 25-year-old Walter F. Conklin. Walter was the son of Newark alderman Lewis Conklin and worked as a bookkeeper at a silk factory. He had met Alice at the dressmaker's shop where she worked. Alas for Alice, Walter was a bit of a rake.

The family doctor, Theodore F. Kinney, had also heard of Alice's disappearance, and had read about the gruesome discovery in the papers. He consulted with Parker, who practiced in the same building, about whether or not the woman in the trunk could be the missing Alice. On Tuesday, August 29, Kinney went to the Bellevue Hospital morgue to view the body and learn if the dead girl was his patient.

He found the body in a state of such decomposition that he couldn't just identify her on first sight. However, upon closer examination, Kinney was able to tentatively identify her as Alice by her scars -- particularly an unusually-placed vaccination scar, and by a scar on her face. 

Kinney returned to New Jersey, and together with Dr. Parker went to Mrs. Bowlsby and voiced his suspicions. He returned to Bellevue with Parker, who was able to identify Alice positively by her facial scar and a mole, as well as by the dental work he had done on her. Both men concurred on the identification. The dead woman was indeed Alice Augusta Bowlsby.

When Dr. Kinney and Dr. Parker went to the police to report on the identity of the dead woman, they were brought to Rosenzweig's home to see if they could identify anything there as belonging to Alice. They identified a hemstitched cambric handkerchief, marked "A. A. Bowlsby", and a blue sash that the men could not say for sure was Alice's, though they believed it to be. This strengthened the identification of Rosenzweig as the abortionist.

The news that the Trunk Mystery woman was Alice Bowlsby reached most of Patterson, New Jersey, through the newspapers. Gossip was running rampant in the silk mill where Walter Conklin worked. Some conjectured that Walter's diamond pin, which he'd not been wearing recently had been used to pay for the fatal abortion. While most of the 250 workers were on lunch break, Walter opened large fireproof room off the bookkeeper's office, went inside, and shot himself in the head. In his pocket was a note written on a piece of the business letterhead:

 "I have long had a morbid idea of the worthlessness of life, and now to be obliged to testify in this affair and cause unpleasantness to my family is more than life is worth."

After his death, rumors arose that Walter Conklin had two wives -- one in New Jersey and one in Russia, where he had traveled on business -- while being involved with Alice and possibly other young women. His suicide cemented his identity as Alice's "seducer."

Another young man, Frank Tripp, believed to have been somehow involved in Alice's sad end, absconded from the area and was believed to be in Canada.

On September 1, 1871, a Coroner's Jury was convened. Alice's mother was in no state to view her daughter's body or to participate in the inquest. The men of the Coroner's Jury, after being sworn in, were first brought to the morgue, where Alice's body lay under a sheet. Dr. Kinney and Dr. Parker showed the jury the marks by which they had identified the dead woman as Alice. The jury then returned to the hearing room, where they cast angry and disgusted looks at Rosenzweig, who turned away and looked out the window.

Rosenzweig, a native of Poland, had reportedly begun as a saloon owner, but qualified himself as a doctor and branched out into abortion on the basis of a $40 diploma he'd bought from a diploma mill in Philadelphia. Since at that time all a person had to do to legally practice medicine in New York was pay a $10 "physician revenue tax," this diploma might well have raised his status.

Rosenzweig denied any duplicity in also being the "Dr. Ascher" who ran thinly veiled abortion ads in the paper. He asserted that he just used Ascher's name for pure convenience because his predecessor had left the sign up.

Rosenzweig reportedly attempted to hang himself in his prison cell on the morning of September 2. He insisted that he was a victim of a conspiracy and was placed on suicide watch.

The article had republished an ad from the New York Herald, reading, "A. -- Ladies in trouble guaranteed immediate relief, sure and safe; no fees required until perfectly satisfied; elegant rooms and nursing provided. Dr. Ascher. Amity-place. $c."

Under Boss Tweed, abortion, though illegal, had been tolerated. But the gruesome discovery of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl crammed rudely into a trunk excited too much outcry for any politician to step in and intervene. Rosenzweig would be brought to trial. As the evidence against him mounted, nobody doubted that he would be convicted.

Pickett, the cart man, testified about the young woman who had hired him to collect the trunk. She had given her name as Julia Sidney, and had quibbled over the $1 fee but had paid it when Pickett went into a store and broke a $5 for her. He was instructed to go to the house at 687 Second Avenue and ring the basement bell. The trunk, she said, would be brought to him. Pickett had gone to the address and rung the bell as instructed. A man opened the door and helped him to carry the trunk to the cart, but didn't speak to him. Pickett identified Rosenzweig as that man.

Pickett then testified that he had brought the trunk to the depot, where he'd found Julia Sidney waiting for him at the baggage drop-off. The trunk was too heavy for Pickett to carry himself, so he'd gotten the depot baggage boy to help. The boy, 12-year-old Alexander Potts, was present as a witness, and Pickett identified him. With some help from Julia, Pickett and Alexander loaded the trunk onto a baggage cart. Julia had examined the trunk, fretted that the lock was failing, and asked Alexander to get her a rope to fasten it more securely. He helped her get a strap. With that, Pickett had gone back to the cart stand, and had nothing more to contribute to the inquest.

Alexander was called to testify. He testified that the woman calling herself Julia Sidney, dressed "like a poor girl", had arrived at the station in a hired cab and asked him how to get to the ticket office. He'd brought her there, and she'd bought a ticket to Chicago, while lamenting that she didn't want to make the trip herself. When Pickett had driven up, Julia had asked Alexander to help with the trunk. She had fussed about the trunk being handled carefully, saying that it contained glass and other fragile objects. Julia had asked for a rope to fasten the trunk with, and Alexander had gotten the baggagemaster to fasten it with a strap. Julia had tried to leave without paying for the strap. She checked the trunk for Chicago, tipped Alexander a nickle, and pondered where to go for dinner. Alexander had recommended a place, assuring her that she had plenty of time to return in time to get a good seat on the train. She told the boy she was going to meet some friends and would pay him more on her return. She then walked off and Alexander never saw her again.
The baggage master, Frank Dunning, testified that he had seen the trunk at the depot; he'd supplied the strap to fasten it. He testified that the trunk was very weak, that he had his doubts that it would make the trip to Chicago intact, and also doubted that the owner of the trunk could afford to pay him the $1 for the strap, which he had nailed in place. He'd also been present when the trunk was opened and the body discovered.
James F. Boyle, an undertaker, testified that on the morning of Saturday, August 26, a man came to his establishment, saying that a servant girl of his had died. She'd only had about $10. He wanted to know how much it would cost to bury her. Boyle had asked where the girl was to be buried, and the man had said he wasn't particular; the cheapest place would suffice. He also wanted to know how quickly the preparations could be finished. Boyle had told him about an hour and a half. He asked where the dead girl was, to which the would only reply that she wasn't far away. Boyle had asked about the doctor who had tended the girl, and was told he was downtown. Boyle said that he would need a medical certificate. The man had left, saying he would return later with the medical certificate, but he never did. Boyle testified that he's seen him later, standing outside the house on Second Avenue. He said he identified him later, at the police station, as Dr. Rosenzweig.
Jane Johnson, Rosenzweig's servant, testified that she had seen a woman dressed in white, with a white bonnet, admitted to the home on August 23. The woman went upstairs. She never saw the woman again. She identified a piece of a diaper and a towel, taken from the trunk, as belonging to the Rosenzweig household.
Dr. Cushman, who had performed the autopsy, reported that he had removed the body from the trunk, along with an army blanket, a quilt, a bed-tick, a chemise, and two white muslin rags. The body had no extermal marks of trauma, though there was substantial decomposition. All of the organs of the chest had been normal, but inside the pelvis he found evidence of peritonitis and uterine lacerations caused by a pointed instrument. He concluded that the young woman, later identified as Alice Bowlsby, had died from an abortion.
A woman named Marian Arthur testified that she had let professional rooms to a man she had always known as Dr. Ascher, who she identified by pointing to Dr. Rosenzweig. She said that Ascher/Rosenzweig "has a considerable practice, but more gentlemen than ladies."
Rosenzweig answered few questions for the Coroner's Jury, only indicating that he was a Polish-born pysician, 39 years of age. His attorney argued that "a great deal of the testimony admitted is illegal," and the suspect denied "any participation in the atrocities charged".
The Jury quickly returned their verdict, that Alice Bowlsby had died from a criminal abortion performed some time between August 23 and August 26, and that Jacob Rosenzweig was the perpetrator.
News coverage of the inquest concluded by saying that the District Attorney, when interviewed, "said there was no possible chance of escape for the abortionist, and that he is certain of seven years' retirement from professinal life at Sing Sing."
The Trial Begins
The trial was a senstation, drawing huge crowds to the brownstone courthouse. The first motion in open court was by Rosenzweig's co-counsel, Mr. Hummell, who pleaded unsuccessfully for an adjournment to allow main counsel, William Howe, to recover from an illness. A jury was empanelled: a cigar maker, a tailor, a builder, a plasterer, a speculator, two brokers, a hatter, a grocer, an agent, a dry goods merchant, and a tobbaconist.
The Second Day
On this, the first day of testimony, the infamous trunk was brought into the courtroom and entered into evidence.
Alice's mother, distraught, agitated, and dressed in mourning, took the stand. She testified about the last time she'd seen her daughter alive, and about Alice's possessions, found at Dr. Rosenzweig's home. She also briefly testified about Alice's relationship with Walter Conklin. Next, Alice's sister Carrie testified. She spoke of the last time she'd seen her sister alive, and corroborated her mother's testimony about Alice's possessions.
Jane Johnson, a servant working at Rosenzweig's house, testified that she had been living under his roof for three months prior to Alice's death. She left Rosenzweig's employ on the 29th of August, when the trouble had erupted over the discovery of Alice Bowlsby's body.
Rosenzweig lived with his wife, four children, and a boarder named Abraham Sigel. A woman named Netta was a frequent visitor, up until about noon on the 23rd or 24th of August (which Jane recalled as the Wednesday or Thursday prior to the discovery of Alice's body). On that day, Jane saw Rosenzweig come into the house through the basement and admit a woman, clad in a white dress with ruffles and tucks, through the main entrance. This woman immediately went upstairs.
On Friday morning, the 25th, Mrs. Rosenzweig sent Jane on an errand that kept her out of the house all morning. Jane reported seeing Nettie at the house that day.
Early in the morning of the 26th, Jane was sent to take Rosenzweig's children to Central Park. She didn't return until late afternoon. She could not positively identify the trunk, but there had been one like it in Rosenzweig's house. She believed, from what she'd heard from Rosenzweig's daughter Rosie, that it belonged to Netta. Jane did positively identify a baby blanket found in the trunk as belonging to the Rosenzweig family.
On cross-examination, Jane indicated that she'd not heard or noticed any particular excitement or stir about the house on the days in question, other than that naturally involved with the birth of the Rosenzweigs' new baby.
Pickett the cabman gave the same testimony he'd given to the Coroner's Jury. Extenisve cross-examination didn't shake him in his story. He identified the trunk, as did several other witnesses, including the baggage boy, police officer, baggage master, and morgue attendant, all of whom reiterated testimony given at the Coroner's Jury. Alice's dentist and family doctor testified about how they'd identified her body. Boyd the undertaker reiterated his testimony from the Coroner's Jury. The police who searched Rosenzweig's house testified about the evidence they'd found there.
A woman named Nellie Willis was called to the stand to identify Rosenzweig as the man who had performed an abortion on her, about two and a half years earlier, that had left her hospitalized for weeks, and had nearly killed her. Rosenzweig had been practicing then as Dr. Ascher.
Dr. Cushman testified in great detail about the autopsy he'd performed. Alice's uterus had been enlarged, the cervix dilated, and various lacerations, giving evidence of an abortion which had caused fatal infection. The trial was adjourned for the day during cross-examination.
Day Three
This day began the the defense completing the cross-examination of Dr. Cushman. A Dr. Finnell was sworn in, and corraborated Cushman's testimony. The prosecution rested its case.
The defense, while conceding that the crime against Alice was "frightful, replsive, horrible", and conceding that there was a strong circumstantial case, held that it had not been proved that Rosenzweig had actually killed Alice.
Howe called two doctors to the stand, Garrish and Parker, who gave some medical testimony that made so little impression on reporters that I've been able to find no record of it.
The defense called Cornelia Bowlsby of Brooklyn, who was not related to the dead woman. Mrs. Bowlsby of Brooklyn claimed that the handkerchief identified as Alice's actually belonged to her daughter, Anna. She said that she and her daughters had visited the Rosenzweig home in August, and that Anna had spilled some wine and wiped it up with the handkerchief, and had left it behind. She said Anna had seen articles about Alice's death in the newspapers, with great attention focused on the handkerchief, and had brought it to her mother's attention. Mrs. Bowlsby then felt compelled, she said, to step forward to identify it. On cross-examination, she indicated that she'd not given any thought to the handkerchief until Mrs. Rosenzweig had come to her house to talk to her about it three weeks before the trial, and she wavered a bit on her description of the handkerchief. She also admitted that her husband had been expelled from the same college of physicians that Rosenzweig had gotten a phony diploma from.
The defense also produced as witnesses the Cohen brothers, Jacob and Lewis, who placed Rosenzweig at their home on the 26th, providing medical care to Jacob. Lewis testified that Rosenzweig had arrived at 10 a.m. and had stayed until 2 p.m.; Jacob testified that Rosenzweig he had arrived at aout 12:30 and stayed two or three hours. But on cross-examination, both brothers became less clear about what day Rosenzweig had actually been at the house, with Jacob saying that it was two or three days before Rosenzweig was arrested, and Lewis only being able to say it was a Saturday in the later part of August.
Mr. M. Samuels took the stand, saying he'd known Rosenzweig for at least six years, during which he'd treated his brother at their father's house. He said that Rosenzweig had visited at his house on the day he was arrested -- Monday -- and had been there the previous Saturday as well at about 3 p.m.
The defense also brought forward eight character witnesses, but most of them could only verify that they knew Rosenzweig as a physician. Only three of the eight testified that they personally knew that he was "a man of good character."
The vanished Netta, also identified as Yetty Fox, was produced as a defense witness. She said she had secretly gone to Rosenzweig's house on the Thursday prior to the 26th, due to illness, and had been dressed in white. She said she had come forward after reading accounts that placed importance on the entrance to Rosenzweig's home of a woman dressed in white.
The Defendant Takes the Stand
When Rosenzweig took the stand in his own defense, according to the New York Times, "his testimony was singularly incoherent, and he totally failed in his endeavor to remove the effect of the case made by the prosecution."
Rosenzweig testified that he knew Cornelia Bowlsby, and her daughters, who lived in Brooklyn, but never knew any Bowlsbys that lived in Patterson, New Jersey. He said he knew of nobody named Conklin from Patterson, New Jersey, and that nobody had arranged for Alice Bowlsby to board at his home. He denied having ever performed an abortion on anybody. He denied that any woman had died in his house during the time period in question, saying, "if she did I would know it."
He said any evidence of a pregnancy at his home was due to the fact that five weeks prior to his arrest his wife had given birth in the family home. He said he'd brought Netta to his house to see the baby, and had come in through the basement because he'd forgotten his key. Netta, he said, was the white-clad woman the servant had seen. He insisted that no other woman dressed in white had come to his house at all during the period in question.
Rosenzweig also testified that he had never seen the carman, William Peckett, until after his arrest. He also insisted that he'd never seen the handkerchief until after his arrest. He denied ever having seen the trunk. He admitted to having visited Boyle, the undertaker, but said he'd been sent by a Jewish society to get prices for funerals for the poor.
Under cross-examination, Rosenzweig admitted to practicing under the name of "Dr. Asher," but that he only did so because he'd taken over the previous doctor's practice and had simply left the name on the door. He denied having any knowledge of some other physicians who were evidently part of an abortion ring.
Day Four - The Defense Rests
The court was crowded, with Rosenzweig's wife and 14-year-old daughter arriving early. Alice's family did not attend, but the Mrs. Bowlsby of Brooklyn was there with her daughter as well.
Defense attorney Howe launched into a challenge for the court to prove that Alice Bowlsby had been alive on August 24, and that if an abortion had been performed it had not been necessary to try to preserve her life. His motions were denied.
In his closing argument, Howe proved a less than stellar spokesman for his client. He attacked Alice's mother for not having gone to the morgue personally to identify her daughter's body, instead having "deputed a hired dentist and a hireling physician". He then insisted that the identification was insufficient to prove that the dead woman was in fact Alice Bowlsby. How, he said, could Rosenzweig be convicted of killing Alice Bowlsby when it hadn't been sufficently been proven that Alice Bowlsby was in fact dead? Then he pointed out that the last people to see Alice Bowlsby alive had seen her in New Jersey, and no witnesses had seen her alive in New York. Sure, he conceded, Alice's things were in New York, but had Alice brought them to New York alive and died there? Then he theorized that Conklin, "who betrayed the girl, procured her death to conceal his guilt, and subsequently sent the body to the house of a so-called New-York abortionist" -- thus admitting that Alice's body had indeed been at his client's house and that his client was known as an abortionist, assertions that his client had denied during the trial.
He then argued that had Rosenzweig actually killed Alice, he'd hardly have kept her sash, dress pads, and handkerchief around the house to be discovered. Then he used the lack of larger, more easily identifiable items of Alice's dress at Rosenzweig's home as proof that Alice hadn't been there.
Howe pleaded Rosenzweig's reputation, his family, his home, and his charities, while Mrs. Rosenzweig and their daughter wept openly.
Day Four - The Prosecution Rests
The prosecutor began by focusing on the horrible nature of the crime. According to the New York Times, the District attorney, addressing the court, "observed that he never rose to open a case of this description without feelings constituting the most lively emotions within the heart. The surroundings of a case of this character were such that wherever we look, to whatever point of the compass they direct their attention, death, blood and murder stared them in the face. If the prisoner was guilty of the crime with which he stood charged, he was guilty of one of the highest crimes known to the law. And yet for some unaccountable reason ... our legislators and governers have seen fit to construct the law so that a man who takes the life of the unborn child, and also of the mother, by no jury of his country or by no Judge can he be consigned to the gallows."
He described the plight of a girl like Alice, desperate to save her reputation and not to shame her mother and family, abandoned by her lover to face her shame alone.
He reiterated the evidence identifying the dead woman as Alice Bowlsby. He reiterated that only Alice and her killer knew exactly what had been done to her, and Alice had taken the secret to her grave. He reviewed the evidence that Alice had been at Rosenzweig's home, that her body, crammed into a trunk, had been removed from that home.
He contrasted the respectable Dr. Rosenzweig's practice with that of the disreputable Dr. Ascher -- one and the same man.
He ended with a plea for justice not just for Alice, but for her unborn baby, and held that any man who loved his wife and children would have to convict.
Day Four - The Jury
A man identified as "Recorder Hackett" read the applicable laws to the jury, then reviewed all the evidence, including inconsistencies in the defense's case. He closed by saying, "The crime of which the prisoner is accused has been practised from the formation of the world, and will continue to be practised as long as human nature remains as it is. It can only be restrained by potent legislative penalties and the vindications of the law. The poor girl's story is shortly told. Trusting, betrayed, she and her seducer sleep the sleep that knows no waking. Your duty is to calmly weigh the tesimony, and render a verdict according to your oaths."
The jury deliberated just under two hours before finding Rosenzweig guilty of manslaughter. He was sentenced to seven years of hard labor. The New York Times noted, "The testimony presented so clear a case against Rosenzweig that he himself seemed to have abandoned all hope of escape. He expressed no astonishment at the verdict, though he showed that he thoroughly realized the horror of his situation."
Upon the judge dismissing the court, Mrs. Rosenzweig wept and went to embrace her husband one last time before he was taken away. His daughter threw herself on the floor shrieking, crying out curses on everybody who had spoken against her father: "Oh, may my God curse every one who has went against you, father; may their flesh rot from their bones; may their lives wither up; may they die rotten. Oh, father, if I die for it, I'll have all their lives!" She then threw herself onto her father and clung to him. Through all of this, Rosenzweig remained stoic. He was led outside, past a jeering crowd, and taken to prison.
The Aftermath
Alice was buried in the Potter's Field. The feminist newspaper, Woodhull & Claflin's Weekly, published a scathing piece about the death of Alice and her lover, placing the blame on a society that winked at unchaste men but condemned women who showed evidence of unchastity themselves:
We bring the dead bodies of the father, mother and the unborn child and lay them on society's doorstep, saying, "Behold your handiwork." This is no time to be scrupulous in our language. We cannot stand to pick words which hundreds are running the risks which Miss Bowlsby ran to satisfy the laws of society. We say that society itself is the patron of abortionists, that society's present laws make their occupation excusable, nay, a necessity; that the very men who are so loud in their denunciations of Rosenzweig and his class have, nine out of every ten of them, paid for his assistance, and, among women, nine out of ten would act as Alice Bowlsby did, if placed in the same position.
You screech at Rosenzweig today; you employed him yesterday, and will produce patients for his successor tomorrow, and go to church next Sunday and look as devout as a Chadband. And yet, as society exists, he has been your friend. How many of your daughters owe the shelter of your roofs to him? Ah! were that question fairly solved, it would ignite a torch whose lurid glare would inflame this city from end to end, and every one would proclaim how dreadfully bad his neighbor was, and point out the skeleton in his neighbor's closet.
The Rosenzweigs step in and say, practically, "I will spare you nine deaths out of the ten (for only one in a hundred dies under my hands). I will send fifty more out of the hundred victims home, still virtuous according to your rules, because no one knows of the so-called transgression, and the remainder shall have their error known only to their parents or relatives, and the outside world and future husbands shall remain in happy and blissful ignorance of the truth. All this I will do for one hundred dollars each." You find the money, you have the private interview with Rosenzweig (not that you are interested; oh, no, it is all out of pure friendship; you didn't do it; it was some other man.) You cheat society's rules of its victims, until another victim dies. Then you howl at their depravity and Rosenzweig's villainy.
Alice's mortification at her predicament must have been great. She was a Sunday school teacher and an active member of her church. Whether it was fear of censure alone that drove her to sacrifice her baby and risk her own life at the hands of Rosenzweig is a secret she took to her grave.
A public outcry against abortionists led to laws nationwide calling for stiffer penalties for abortionists. Ironically, Rosenzweig's attorney was able to leverage the new law into an appeal that freed his client on a technicality after he had served only one year of his sentence.

Additional sources:

Thursday, August 24, 2023

August 24, 1888: No Investigation into Dead Hagenow Patient

Dr. Louisa "Lucy" Hagenow

On August 24, 1888, Mrs. Emma Dep, who had recently been discharged from a maternity home run by known abortionist Dr. Louisa Hagenow, died at 537 Second Street in San Francisco. The San Francisco Bulletin indicated that a Dr.  Erenberg signed the death certificate attributing the death to peritonitis from a self-induced abortion.

I find it a bit odd that there was no evidence of a real investigation of the death. There is simply no explanation that makes any sense other than that Emma had gone to known Hagenow, had an abortion at the maternity home, thought she was recovering, went home, and died. Considering that there had recently been three Hagenow patients dying from botched abortions -- Louise DerchowAnnie Dories and Abbie Richards --  one would think that they'd dig deeper into the circumstances surrounding Emma's death. Furthermore, a man named Franz Krone had died on August 13 at Hagenow's maternity home, leaving behind jewelry and money that was never accounted for. 

Hagenow promptly relocated to Chicago, began using the name Lucy rather than Louise or Louisa, and began piling up dead bodies there as well. She was implicated in numerous abortion deaths, including 
Minnie DeeringSophia Kuhn , Emily AndersonHannah CarlsonMarie HechtMay PutnamLola MadisonAnnie HorvatichLottie LowyNina H. PierceJean CohenBridget Masterson, Elizabeth Welter and Mary Moorehead.

Watch Why No Investigation? on YouTube.

Source: "Body Exhumed," San Francisco Bulletin, August 29, 1888

August 24, 1955: Heiress's Mom Arranges Fatal Abortion

On August 25, 1955, the body of a young woman identified as Shirley Silver lay in the morgue in Philadelphia, where it had been since being brought there the previous day from the North Philadelphia apartment of 49-year-old bartender Milton Schwarts and his 42-year-old beautician wife, Rosalie. The young woman, they said, had suddenly taken ill and collapsed while sitting on a sofa in their living room. 

But when machinations began to try to remove the woman's body from the morgue without an autopsy, Detective Nathan M. Smith stepped in. He wanted to know who this woman was and how she had died.

Her real identity was revealed, and a scandal rocked the city. 

The dead woman was 
Doris Jean Silver Ostreicher, a 22-year-old heiress. Doris's father, Herman R. Silver, was vice-president of Food Fair Stores. Her uncle, Samuel Friendland of Miami Beach, was founder and chairman of the board of the chain. 

Doris hadn't collapsed on the sofa. Her lung had collapsed when punctured by an instrument used in an attempted abortion. Doris had been about six weeks pregnant and had likely died within minutes of the abortion attempt.

Doris's Family

Herman Silver had been born in New York City. He started out working in factories and stores before he took up the more lucrative career of food distribution. Gertrude was the daughter of a central Pennsylvania merchant. She married Milton and her sister, Hattie Kline, married Samuel Friedland. Both young women thus improved their lot significantly.

Milton and Gertrude settled in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Doris Jean was born there in 1932, and her brother, Benjamin, in 1934.

The couple moved to Philadelphia, and they didn't live ostentatiously. The children attended Cheltenham High School. Doris briefly attended the Bessie V. Hicks School of Dramatic Art, and Benjamin went to work for their father.

It wasn't until the spring of 1955 that the Silver family began to display their wealth, moving into a $70,000 (over $1.5 million in 2023) mansion in the Melrose Park neighborhood. Milton owned more than 28,000 shares of stock in Food Fair, with an estimated net worth of nearly $2,000,000 (over $43 million in 2023). 

The Silver family seemed to have a golden life.

Prelude to Tragedy

Doris had made front page news when she eloped in a "fairy tale romance" with Earl M. Ostreicher, a 29-year-old motorcycle cop from Miami Beach. They had met in April of 1955. Doris was staying with her uncle. Earl was patrolling when he saw Doris drive by. He pressed a friend to introduce him to the beautiful young woman.

Earl Ostreicher, a Chicago native, was the son of Charles Oesterreicher (Earl had shortened his surname), president of Chicago Wood and Coal Company, and his wife, Emma. He had attended engineering classes at Roosevelt College but dreamed of becoming a motorcycle cop. In 1953 he went to Miami to fulfil his dream. He was evidently a very personable young man, having been named runner-up as "the most courteous policeman" in Florida in 1954.

Earl held that he'd not known that his beautiful red-haired bride was wealthy. She'd told him, he said, that her father was a butcher and that she was working as a child's nurse at the Friedland home.

The pair met every night after Earl finished his shift at midnight. Doris would tell a desk sergeant where she wanted to meet Earl, and the officer would pass it over the police radio to the young lover.

The couple ran away together to Folkston, Georgia, on June 24, 1955. which was just over the state line, to wed. But fairy tale romances don't always lead to fairy tale marriages. Within a few weeks, Doris evidently was disillusioned, and had separated from her husband, returning to her family's Philadelphia home.

Earl told his father that he expected the separation to be temporary. Doris, he said, had gone to visit her parents because she was homesick.

In the mean time, Doris learned that her short-lived marriage had left her pregnant. She confided in her mother, 49-year-old Gertrude Silver. Gertrude helped her to arrange an abortion. 

Upon learning of his bride's death, Earl boarded a plane to Philadelphia.

The Deadly Couple

Milton Schwartz had served in the merchant marine before becoming a bartender. He married Rosalie Kershner in October of 1934. The couple honeymooned in Atlantic City then returned to Philadelphia, where the settled in the neighborhood of North Franklin Street. Their first-floor, 
$40-a-month apartment (c. $450 in 2023) was reportedly, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, "fitted out sumptuously," much to the surprise of their neighbors. "Despite the fact that the Schwartzes have lived at that address for more than 10 years the neighbors purported to know little about them except that they appeared quiet and kept to themselves."

Milton managed and tended bar at the Cat 'n Fiddle Café, owned by a company that was managed by his stepfather, Morris Freedman. Rosalie had been a beautician for more then ten years at Hair Fashion Center. 

Each of them had petty crimes in their past. Milton Schwartz had been arrested in 1944 for stealing two bottles of whiskey and for hitting a man with a club. Rosalie had been arrested in 1940 for falsely stating that Milton was unemployed, thus receiving $143 (a little over $2,000 in 2023) in public assistance. She pleaded guilty and made restitution. 

It's likely that they got abortion customers from the bar and the beauty shop.

Doris and her husband, Herman, accompanied Doris to the Schwartz's , There, the abortion was perpetrated with some sort of instrument and a "vegetable compound." Doris collapsed and with her mother by her side. 

Dr. A. Samuel Manstein, who had an office across the street, was summoned to the apartment. He administered stimulants and attempted cardiac massage to no avail.

Though Doris was originally brought to the morgue under the false name, her weeping father eventually positively identified her.

Doris Silver Ostreicher
When police searched the apartment, they found abortion instruments there, including syringes, medications, dry mustard, absorbent cotton, mineral oil, and olive oil, along with a metal tube that was believed to be the fatal instrument in Doris' abortion. 

Doris's doctor, Samuel H. Katz, said that he had cared for Doris for about four years. She had been in very good health and had only needed treatment for minor ailments. She saw another doctor for allergy care.

It took just a minute for a Philadelphia grand jury to indict the guilty pair for operating an abortion, conspiracy to commit an abortion, abortion resulting in death, and perjury. They had listened to 12 witnesses over a period of a little more than an hour and a half.

The Schwartzes pleaded no contest to a charge of abortion resulting in death for their role. Rosalie got a sentence of indeterminate length, while Milton was sentenced to 3-10 years. Both were paroled after 11 months, based on a "pathetic" letter from their gown son asking that his parents be freed in time for Christmas. 

Doris' mother, who was hospitalized for "bereavement shock" in the early days after her daughter's death, was charged as an accessory. She pleaded no context to a charge of accessory before the fact of abortion. She was fined and given a suspended sentence for her role in her daughter's death. The judge said that he considered the memory of how her daughter had died "substantial punishment."