Rosina Doerr

Rosina Doerr19thcentury, illegalmidwife, 30sSUMMARY: Rosina Doerr, aged around 34, died on September 5, 1887 after an abortion perpetrated in San Francisco by midwife Minnie Wegener.

An inquest was held September 8, 1887 investigating the death of homemaker Rosina Doerr, who had died the previous Monday, September 5, at her home on Sanchez Street. The doctors concluded that a surgical abortion had been performed. Rosina left behind a husband and five children.

RosinaDoerrOaklandTrib13Sep1887.pngPhillip, Rosina’s blacksmith husband, said that he’d suspected an abortion and asked his wife, and she’d said she’d gone to a midwife, Mrs. Minnie Wegener of Mission Street, for the abortion.

Mrs. Voight, who had cared for Rosina during her illness, and said that a couple of weeks earlier Rosina and asked her to check with Wegener to find out when she could see her. Wegener set the appointment for the afternoon, and Rosina went to keep her appointment.

The next day Rosina told Mrs. Voight that she’d miscarried during the night.

The coroner’s jury concluded that Rosina, age 34, native of Switzerland, died on September 5, from septicemia due to abortion, and that Wagener was an accessory. Wegener, on her lawyer’s advice, refused to testify before the Coroner’s jury.

Rosina’s deathbed statement was excluded from the trial, since Rosina was considered an accomplice in the abortion and there was no corroborating evidence.. The prosecuting attorney lamented being unable to get the physicians who had attended to Rosina in her final illness to come forward. The defense attorney argued that Rosina’s injuries had been self-inflicted.

Wegener’s first trial ended in a hung jury. She was acquitted during her second trial.

Rosina, a homemaker, had been born around 1853 in Switzerland. She left behind her husband, born about 1850 in Hessen, a daughter, Mary born around 1874 in Pennsylvania, a daughter Rosina, born around 1876 in California, and a son, Henry, born around 1878.


  • “The Doerr Inquest,” San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 9, 1887
  • Untitled snippet, Oakland Tribune, Sept. 13, 1887
  • “Minnie Wegener: Prosecuting Attorney Coffey Speaks Plainly” San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 16, 1887
  • “Minnie Wegener: She Is Held to Answer for Murdering Mrs. Doerr,” San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 18, 1887
  • “A Murder Trial Continued,” San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 29, 1887
  • “Mrs. Wegener Acquitted,” Sacramento Record-Union, Dec. 9, 1887