More than 30 infants died.
FULL TEXT: Sergeant Phillips, of the Yorkville police Court squad, yesterday arrested Mrs. Ellen Roberts, a middle-aged, intelligent woman, living in the tenement No. 212 East Thirty-eighth street, on charges of infanticide. Mrs. Roberts’ accusers are her neighbors. They are J. Selby West, 21 East Thirty-sixth street; Catherine Blackwood, 210 East Thirty-eighth street; Ellen Jarvis, 206 East Thirty-eighth street, and Fanny Phyfe, 210 East Thirty-eighth street. The complainants allege that Mrs. Roberts is a professional baby-farmer. The little foundlings and orphans, for whose care she is paid by the Commissioners of Charities and Correction, are starved and neglected. They are exposed to the extremes of weather in the back yard in an almost nude state, and the mortality among them is frightful.
One of the complainants swears that she resided on the same floor with Mrs. Roberts from the 1st of January last to June 21st, and that during that time more than thirty of the infants died. Another witness swears that Mr. Roberts is drunk nearly all the time, and that on one occasion two babes nearly suffocated by her while in this condition. It is also alleged that several infants who died on her hands were kept for days in the stable of an undertaker named Boylston, on the opposite of the street, and removed in a mysterious manner. Mrs. Roberts has no babes in her charge at present. The last one she nursed was taken from her by Captain Allaire and Dr. Wooster Beach, for the reason that the neighbors complained that it was starving to death. The accused appears to be but little affected by the terrible charges brought against her, and claims her ability to disprove them all when accorded an examination. She is the mother of five children.
[“Starved Babies – Terrible Charges Against A Baby-Farmer.” [from New York World], Nashville Union and American (Tn.), Oct. 2, 1873, p. 1]
FULL TEXT: Reference was made yesterday to the operation of Mrs. Roberts, a baby farmer, and in the description of her methods of increasing the mortality reports, allusion was made to an undertaker, whose name, by the way, is Boylston, and exceedingly suggestive of the old hymn, beginning “Our days are as the “grass.” It is due to Mr. Boylston to say that he claims not to have had a monopoly of Mrs. Roberts’s patronage. He says he had only buried nine infants from this house, and for these he had certificates and burial permits. The question seems to be quite in order why the Health Bureau does not make some special inquiry into such peculiar facts as nine young children being buried from one house in New York, and that house not a hospital? And why should Mrs. Roberts divide her medical custom with Drs. Smith, Chambers and Cybert? In this business so common in New York that the Health Board winks at it and physicians maintain silence?
[Untitled, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (N. Y.), Sep. 25, 1873, p. 2]
FULL TEXT: Mrs. Roberts, the alleged baby farmer, will be further examined to-day. Yesterday Dr. Harris, of the Board of Health, presented certificates of eleven deaths issued from the office for infants who died where Mrs. Roberts lived. Mrs. Thylfe testified to Mrs. Robert’s [sic] frequent and helpless drunkenness, that she had twelve children in her care the latter part of May, and the witness knew of fifteen having died there. She testified that eight had been taken away by Mr. Boylston, the undertaker.
[Untitled, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (N. Y.), Sep. 26, 1873, p. 2]
For more cases of “Baby Farmers,” professional child care providers who murdered children see The Forgotten Serial Killers.
For more cases of this category, see: Female Serial Killers of 19th Century America
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