Elizabeth Kimball #30s #1860s #newyork #illegaldoctor #19thcentury

SUMMARY: Elizabeth Kimball, age 31, died on January 28, 1867 after an abortion perpetrated by Dr. George Beakley in New York.

Elizabeth E. Kimball was a respectable woman, by all accounts. She a Civil War widow, whose husband had been Lieutenant Colonel Edgar Allison Kimball of the 9th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, also known as Hawkins' Zouaves. Lt. Col. Kimball had been shot dead by Brigadier General Michael Corcoran when Kimball and a sentry challenged Corcoran because nobody in his party knew the countersign.

Mrs. Kimball remained in New York after her husband's death on April 12, 1863.

On January 29, 1867, Dr. Edward Dalton of the Metropolitan Board of Health received notice that Mrs. Kimball had died at her home the day before. One of the city coroners, Robert Gamble, provided a certificate he had signed indicating that he'd held an inquest in which it had been determined that Mrs. Kimball had died "from injuries received by a fall on the 22nd day of January, 1867." A permit was provided to remove Mrs. Kimball's body to Providence, Rhode Island, for burial. Dr. George Beakley had signed the death certificate as the attending physician.

However, another inquest was held by George Wrightmann after Mrs. Kimball's body had been sent to the cemetery in Providence. This inquest, performed on March 14 in the receiving tomb of the North Burying Ground, revealed that Mrs. Kimball had died from injuries to the uterus caused by an abortion performed with instrument on or about January 24. Wrightmann concluded that Beakley had falsified Mrs. Kimball's death certificate, and that Robert Gambell had falsified documents as well -- that no coroner's inquest had in fact taken place in New York. In fact, the circumstances surrounding Mrs. Kimball's death and the documentation afterward had been so suspicious that the Sanitary Superintendent had refused a New York burial permit.

Mrs. Cole, a nurse who had attended Mrs. Kimball, said during the ensuing investigation that Mrs. Kimball had been in good health on January 22, but had suddenly taken ill a few days before her death. Dr. Beakley, under oath, finally conceded that he had falsified the death certificate -- that he'd known that Mrs. Kimball had died of abortion complications. However, he denied having been the guilty doctor.

Coroner Gambell said that Sarah Coggshall, who had lived with Mrs. Kimball, had testified to the original coroner's jury that Mrs. Kimball was her cousin. They had been returning to the house after some social visits when Mrs. Kimball fell on the ice and was badly injured. Dr. Beakley was summoned, she said, to care for Mrs. Kimball. Beakley testified that Mrs. Kimball was bruised on the hips and back, consistent with a fall. Her uterus and bowels had also been injured, he said, causing the inflammation and congestion which had ultimately taken his patient's life.

Sarah Coggshall's later testimony under oath was quite different. She kept to the story of Mrs. Kimball having slipped on the ice, but also said that earlier that day she had accompanied her cousin to Dr. Beakley's office, that she and Mrs. Kimball had awaited the doctor there, and that clearly Beakley knew her on sight, since he greeted her by name when he arrived. Sarah testified that Mrs. Kimball had admitted that the doctor had performed an operation on her, and that she expected to be sick that night as a result. Sarah noted that her cousin reported serious pain in her side and waist. Sarah attributed these pains not to the fall, but to the operation. Beakley was summoned several times to attend to Mrs. Kimball.

At some point, Mrs. Kimball's brother, Dr. Harry Luther, and her brother-in-law, William Benjamin, came to the house and consulted with Beakley about the death certificate.

Sources:


ElizabethKimballNYTimes21Mar1867.png


ElizabethKimballNYTime26Mar1867.png



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