Monday, September 19, 2011

Evelyn Abbott, Massachusetts Child Provider & Serial Killer - 1891


FULL TEXT: Mrs. Evelyn Abbott, known to the police as “Mother Abbott,” the baby farmer, of 10 Dearborn pl., Roxbury, was yesterday afternoon in the Superior Court sentenced to three months in the House of Correction, and also to pay a fine of $100 and costs.

The offence charged against her was not sending to the State board of lunacy and charity the notices required by law from persons receiving illegitimate children to board.

She has conducted a “nursery” and lying in hospital in Boston for the past eight years, holding a license from the board of health. This license was revoked a year ago, but she has since continued in the business. She was arrested in May last, charged with maintaining a boarding-house for infants without a license, convicted, and, after an appeal to the Superior Court, paid a fine of $60 and costs.

She was again arrested in September, upon a similar charge, and entered a plea of guilty and was sentenced to pay a fine of $100 and costs, which she paid. She was immediately rearrested upon the charge of neglecting to notify the State board of lunacy and Charity of the reception of illegitimate infants to board, the complaint having five counts.

To this charge she offered to enter a plea of guilty if the case would be continued for sentence, she agreeing to go out of the business entirely.

As the purpose of the prosecution was to break up her establishment the arrangement
was agreed to.

This was on 12th of last September. On the 15th of October a motion was made in the Roxbury District Court for sentence, on the ground that she had not gone out of the business as she had promised.

In support of this claim, and motion three letters written by Mrs. Abbott, agreeing to receive another infant, were introduced. The judge declined to pass sentence at that time because it was not shown that she had actually received another infant, but cautioned Mrs. Abbott and continued the case to Nov. 20. On the 20th of November the prosecution offered to prove that she was still in the business, but Mrs. Abbott was not in court, though represented by her counsel, who secured a continuance to Nov. 25.

After a careful hearing of the new evidence in the case it was decided that she was still engaged in the business, contrary to her agreement, having actually taken an infant on the 5th of November, and a sentence of $100 and costs and three months imprisonment in the house-of-correction was imposed.

From this sentence she appealed to the Superior Court, and her lawyers by one device after another appealed in delaying the course of justice until yesterday, which Judge Sherman confirmed the sentence of the lower court and she was taken at once to the house of correction.

Mrs. Abbott’s method of doing business was to receive such children as were brought to her, and, in consideration of $25, to agree to take the child from off its parents’ hands and to “get it adopted.” The number of children she has received cannot be ascertained, but it is estimated to be at least 100 a year, and she is not known to have caused one to be legally adopted. While she held a license from the board of health she made reports to that board, and the figures there found are startling.

In the last 10 months of 1888 she reported the names of 73 children as received. In the same period 40 infants, she reports, died in her house, and of the 40 names reported as dying four were never reported as received, and for two whom she reported as dead no burial record can be found. Again in the year 1880 she reported 78 children received. Of these 23 are known to have died during the first nine months, when deaths at her house suddenly stopped not one happening after Sept, 20, But a significant fact brought to the attention of the board of health by Dr. Draper, at the time her license was revoked, was the circumstance that, beginning Sept. 10, nine dead bodies of infants were found in the streets and parks within a mile radius of her house, in wards 22, 23, 24, and one of them was found in a paper having Mr. Abbott’s address printed upon it at the office of publication.

The fate of most of the children committed to her tender mercies will never be learned, While an officer of the State board of lunacy and charity, charged with the duty of investigating her establishment has been able to discover the names, birthplace and parentage of 23 infants received by her in the three months following June 1, 1890, he has not been able to learn the fate of but a single one.

The prosecution which has resulted in the breaking up of this establishment, and the imprisonment of its proprietor, was instituted by Capt, H, S, Shurtliff. Superintendent of the department of out door poor of the State board of lunacy and charity.

[“Three Months Behind Bars. - Superior Court Imposes Sentence of Fine and Imprisonment on Mrs. Abbott of Baby Farm Fame.” The Boston Daily Globe (Ma.), Jan. 15, 1891, p. 1]

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For more cases of “Baby Farmers,” professional child care providers who murdered children see The Forgotten Serial Killers.

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http://unknownmisandry.blogspot.com/2012/02/female-serial-killers-of-19th-century.html


For more cases of this category, see: Female Serial Killers of 19th Century America (as of January 20, 2014, the collection contains 61 cases)

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