Jennie Fouts

SUMMARY: Jennie Fouts, age 20, died in Cincinnati on May 24, 1879 after an abortion perpetrated by a person she refused to name.

Twenty-year-old Jennie Fouts, separated from her husband, lived behind the First Presbyterian Church on New York Street in Cincinnati. She had moved to Indianapolis from Shelbyville, Indiana.

On May 15, she collapsed on the street. When others attended to her, Jennie reported having suffered from a dull, aching pain for several days.

She took to her bed, where she was cared for until the evening of May 19, when she was admitted to City Hospital. There, she vomited a black fluid that tested positive for blood. Since this is a symptom of the yellow fever, which had killed three people in the previous few weeks, doctors treated her for that ailment.

She died on May 24, 1879. After her death authorities made contact with a doctor who had treated Jennie prior to her admission and found her to be suffering from an abortion. She would not divulge the name of her abortionist or of her baby’s father.

A man using the name John F. Ellsler sent a letter to the coroner dated June 7, 1979 stating that he and Jenny had married in 1875, but that after a year and a half Jennie discovered his infidelity and left him.

“I searched for her but failed to find her whereabouts, and finally completed the measure of my perfidy by leaving my native home with my paramour, the wife of another man.”

He encountered Jennie on the street in Indianapolis on April 1. “She told me of our child, and of the struggles and trials of her life since our separation.”

The two of them spent quite a bit of time together, during which the aborted baby was conceived. Ellsler left town, telling Jennie he’d return and make it to her for having cheated. However, he never so much as wrote to her.

He believes that this abandonment is why Jennie resumed her maiden name and sought an abortion.

As of yet, I’ve been unable to determine if Jennie’s cheating husband was ever identified, or the specific date of her death.

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  • “A Startling Report,” Nashville Tennessean, May 27, 1879
  • “Yellow Fever,” Galveston Daily News, May 29, 1879
  • “Additional Local News,” Cincinnati Enquirer, Thursday, May 29, 1879
  • untitled item, Cincinnati Enquirer, Jun. 10, 1879
  • “Jennie Fouts,” Indianapolis Journal, Jun. 16, 1879


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