Annie Allison

Annie Allisonseptember29, 1923, age44, henryleemottard, henrylgreen, newyork, illegaldoctor, 40s, 1920sSUMMARY: Annie Allison, age 44, died September 29, 1923 after a criminal abortion performed in Brooklyn, NY by chiropractor Henry Mottard, aka Dr. Henry Green.

On September 29, 1923, 44-year-old Annie Allison, a London native living in Brooklyn, died at the office of chiropractor Henry Lee Mottard, who practiced under the name of Dr. Henry L. Green. Annie left behind teenage children Bernhard, who worked as a bank clerk, and Elsie. Annie was a homemaker. Her husband, Herbert Allison, was a music professor.

Annie was buried, but when suspicions were raised about her death her body was exhumed.

Mottard alleged that Annie had died after an accidental fall down an elevator shaft at the premises. However, Annie’s death certificate, signed by another physician, attributed her death to chronic cardiac nephritis.

In the wake of the autopsy’s preliminary findings, Mottard was arrested on suspicion of homicide. The autopsy had shown no broken bones or other injuries consistent with a fatal fall, and therefore showed that Mottard had lied about the circumstances of Annie’s death.

Police, who were investigating Mottard for his suspected involvement in a kidnap/adoption scheme, were suspicious and had Annie exhumed. It was revealed that she had died from an abortion.

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A Grand Jury questioned Dr. Norris, who had performed the autopsy, one of Annie’s friends, the undertaker who buried Annie, Annie’s brother, and the owner of the building where Annie had supposedly fallen to her death.

The kidnap/adoption scheme involved Lillian McKenzie, who was kidnapped from her baby buggy outside a store. Lillian’s mother swore to police that Mildred Grofe, the adopted daughter of a New Jersey couple she’d visited, was actually Lillian. Lillian’s mother evidently had been led to the Grofe family after a nurse reported having received two infants from Mottard, who instructed her to care for them. One infant was adopted out to the Grofe family. The other was sickly and was returned to Mottard’s care. Upon investigation, the Grofe baby was found not to be Lillian McKenzie, because she was several months older than Lillian would have been.

During the investigation, police searched Mottard’s ten-acre farm outside the city for evidence of more bodies after allegations arose that Mottard had also performed an abortion there on a young woman the previous January. Mottard admitted to having performed three abortions in the farmhouse, which was outside Long Island, but denied having performed the fatal one on Annie. The police were also searching for the remains of the sick baby the nurse had returned to Mottard’s care. When questioned about the infant, Mottard was unable to give the police a satisfactory answer.

An operating room and a machine gun were found in the 14-room farmhouse. A second homicide case was filed against Mottard by officials of Suffolk County, where the farm was located. They had evidence that one of Mottard’s rural abortion patients had suffered the same fate as Annie Allison.

Keep in mind that things that things we take for granted, like antibiotics and blood banks, were still in the future. For more about abortion in this era, see Abortion in the 1920s.

During the first two thirds of the 20th Century, while abortion was still illegal, there was a massive drop in maternal mortality, including mortality from abortion. Most researches attribute this plunge to improvements in public health and hygiene, the development of blood transfusion techniques, and the introduction of antibiotics. Learn more here.

external image MaternalMortality.gif
For more on pre-legalization abortion, see The Bad Old Days of Abortion

Sources:

  • New York Times 4-10-25, 4-11-25, 4-12-25, 4-16-25, 4-17-25, 4-21-454-24-25, 4-25-25, 4-29-25, 5-5-25
  • “‘Green’ Held for Grand Jury and Body of Woman Will Be Exhumed,” Boston Herald, Apr. 12, 1925


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