Marie Rockhill

Marie Rockhillteens, 19101919, chicago, illinois, illegalmidwifeSUMMARY: Rosalla Rockhill, age 19, died September 29, 1915 at Ravenswood Hospital in Chicago from an abortion. An unidentified midwife was blamed in Marie’s death.

Through a gray morning mist that hung over the region, mud splashing buggies, farm wagons, and automobiles began arriving here early today. Before 9 o’clock the hitching rails along the main street on both sides of the post office were lined with conveyances.
MarieRockhillFunneral.jpgFuneral procession in the hometown of 19-year-old Marie RockwellThus began a piece on the funeral of Rosalla Marie Rockhill,a 19-year-old Sunday school secretary who had died September 29, 1915 at Ravenswood Hospital in Chicago from an abortion. An unidentified midwife was blamed in Marie’s death.

Marie’s funeral was a major event in her home town of Etna Gren, Indian. Mourners filed through the family home, past Marie’s white casket, including the girls from Marie’s Sunday school class. Marie’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Warren Rockhill, followed the hearse, along with Marie’s grandparents Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Small and Phoebe Rockhill. Most town businesses closed for the funeral.

The Methodist church was packed for the service, with pastors of two denominations sharing funeral duties. he preacher, while not condoning Marie’s sin, pointed out the fear that drove Marie to Chicago and her death. Her mother had told a coroner’s jury that Marie had said that “her life would be nothing at home, she would rather risk [death] than have the disgrace” of giving birth out of wedlock. Marie even threatened suicide with poison if thwarted in her plan. Her parents, rather than hush up the circumstances of their daughter’s death, openly shared their grief in hopes of preventing similar tragedies in the future.

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    Sources:

    • First in Violence, Deepest in Dirt: Homicide in Chicago, 1875-1920, Jeffrey S. Adler
    • “All Etna Green Grieves at Bier of Erring Girl,” Chicago Sunday Tribune, Oct. 3, 1915
    • “Marie Rockhill Buried,” Ft. Wayne Weekly Sentinel, Oct. 6, 1915
    • Cook County Death Index