Mary Gibson

SUMMARY: Mary GIbson, age 22, died on March 6, 1896, after an abortion perpetrated in New York City and initially attributed to midwife Lena Schott.

“The inquest in the case of Mary Gibson, who was supposed to have died from the effects of a criminal operation, was made exceedingly lively at the Coroner’s office yesterday on account of the war of words between Coroner Hoeber and William F. Howe, the lawyer.” — New York Tribune, March 19, 1896

On February 29, 1896, Dr. Jacoby was summoned to the Brooklyn home of Mrs. Lena Schott, variously identified as a midwife and as a “doctress” in news coverage of what was to follow. Jacoby had been asked to attend to Mary Gibson, a 22-year-old domestic servant. Concluding that Mary was suffering the effects of a botched abortion, Jacoby didn’t want to deal with the case himself and instead had Mary taken to Bellevue hospital.

LenaSchottSketch.pngOnce she was there, Mary gave a statement saying that Schott had indeed perpetrated an abortion on her. Since Mary was expected to die soon, Schott was arrested and held until Mary’s fate played out.

On March 6, 1896, Mary Gibson died.

During the inquest into Mary’s death, things got heated between Schott’s attorney, William Howe, and Coroner Hoeber, with the two of them bickering, Hoebner leaving the room, Howe pursuing him, and somebody having to bring the Assistant District Attorney in to referee.

Finally a police detective was able to testify that they had found Mary at Schott’s house prior to her transfer to Bellevue.

Almost immediately afterward, Howe and Hoebner resumed their bickering, with Howe complaining about Hoebner’s “confounded eccentricities” and Hoebner accusing Howe of owing “everybody” money. Howe countered that Hoebner owed the clerk $300. It looked as if the two were going to come to blows before the ADA managed to call things to order.

The coroner’s jury eventually decided to rule that Mary had died “from causes unknown,” and Mrs Schott was released.


  • “Mrs. Lena Schott Arrested,” New York Times, Mar. 2, 1896
  • “May [sic] Gibson Dies of Malpractice,” New York Sun, Mar. 7, 1896
  • “Hot Words at an Inquest,” New York Tribune, Mar. 19, 1896