Sunday, October 16, 2016

Rosana Hoffman, Child Torturer (for Amusement) – 1891, New York


FULL TEXT: A gentleman, who refused to give his name, called at the office of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children early yesterday morning and told Assistant Superintendent Stocking that he knew of a case which, if not immediately attended to, would result in the death of two small children, 8 and 5 years respectively. He said he was walking through East Twelfth street on Wednesday afternoon when his attention was attracted by two children playing was attracted by two children playing in front of 641. One of the youngsters, a little girl, was covered with bruises, and both eyes were bloodshot. The other child, a boy, also showed evidence of bad treatment. The gentleman said that when he asked the boy who had beaten by her mother, but neither of the children seemed to be able to tell just why they had been whipped.

Mrs. Stocking sent Agent Becker to investigate. When Becker reached the house, which is a tenement, he found that he was expected. The family he was after live on the third floor, but the door to their apartments was locked. He knocked repeatedly, but there was no response, and, concluding that the rooms were empty, he left. Mr. Stocking on Wednesday evening sent Agent Schultes to the house. Instead of going direct to the apartments of the family, Schultes made inquiries among the neighbors and learned that everything about the children reported at the society’s office was true.

He was told that the woman’s name was Mrs. Rosana Hoffman, and that the two children were Rosana and Arthur.

The woman is the wife of a longshoreman who left her about four months ago. Since then the woman’s apartments have become a resort for bad characters. The neighbors also said that she was continually beating them, and that the sound of the little ones’ cries for mercy could be heard all times of the night.

After getting the history of the case, Schultes climbed the stairs and knocked on the door of Mrs. Hoffman’s room. There was no answer, but Schultes know that some one was inside, for he could hear a woman’s voice, cursing and laughing in turn. He could also hear two men singing. The door was locked. Schultes went down stairs, got into the rear yard, climbed up the stairs, got into the rear yard, climbed up the fire escape, and effected an entrance to the room through an open window. His sudden appearance somewhat startled the three roughs and the woman, who were drinking at a table. The two children were playing on the floor. Taking the little girl in his arms and the boy by the hand he left the den, amid the curses of the mother and her companions.

After placing the children in the care of a neighbor Schultes got two policemen and went back to arrest Mrs. Hoffman. The men in the mean time had gone away and the woman was alone.She refused to go with the officers and fought like a demon. It took the three to get her down stairs, and it was only after an hour’s hard work that she was eventually locked up in the station house.

Yesterday morning both the children and the mother were in the Essex Market Police Court. The latter was sullen and absolutely refused to talk. Both the children are naturally pretty, although one would hardly think so to look at their bruised and scarred faces.

They were happy and contented in court, and chatted joyfully together. Their old clothes had been taken from them, and they were attired in clean and new suits furnished by the society. The little girl had quite a store of dimes and nickels, presents from the court officers, which she and her brother took great delight in counting. Little Arthur is an unusually bright child, and speaks German and English equally well. Half concealed by his soft yellow hair is an ugly scar across the forehead, which with the numberless other marks on his body, show the treatment he has been subjected to.

Rosana, however, is the one on whom the mother’s work seems to have fallen the hardest. Her head and body are indescribable. There is hardly a spot of unbruised flesh on her whole body. Everywhere are long stripes, cuts and bruises, old scars, and black and blue marks. Both of her eyes are bloodshot and the flesh around them swollen. A close examination of her head shows old cuts innumerable under the hair. The society consider it one of the worst cases they have had for a long time.

Mrs. Hoffman is only 27 years old, and, despite the marks of dissipation on her face, is still a good-looking woman. Justice Tyan held her in $500 bond for her treatment of the boy. The children were taken to the society’s headquarters, where they were seen later in the day by a Sun reporter.

“Who beat you?” was asked of the little girl.

“Mamma,” was the reply. “She beat me with a great big stick, and she used to hit me with the stove hook too.”

“What did she hit you for?”

“I don’t know,” said the little one. “She just hit me. She only did it when the bad men came, and they used to laugh. She laughed, too, but I didn’t. I cried ‘cause it hurt.”

“Well, who hit Arthur?”

“Mamma hit him, too, but only when she was tired of hitting me. She didn’t hit him with the fire hook. She took kindling wood and dug at his head with it. He cried awful, but mamma and the men only laughed more.”

Little Arthur corroborated his sister’s story, but could not tell why they were whipped. He said that his father was not a bad man, but said he went away because his mother had too many other men to see her.

[“’Mother Just Hit Us.’ – The Pathetic Story of Two Scarred and Bruised Little Children. – Their Drunken Mother Tortured Them Continually For the Amusement of Herself and Her Low Companions.” The Sun (New York, N. Y.), Mar. 27, 1891, p. 8]

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For more cases, see: Women Who Like to Torture

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