New York Times/1868/Inquest over the Remains of Susannah Lattin
The Amity-Place Mystery. Inquest over the Remains of Susannah Lattin. How a Private Lying-in Hospital is Conducted.
Coroner Rollins proceeded yesterday to hold an inquest, at the Mercer-street Police Station, over the remains of Susannah Lattin, the young woman who died at the private lying-in hospital of Dr. H. D. Grindle, at No. 6 Amity-place, under circumstances of considerable mystery, yet suggestive of malpractice. The following evidence was elicited yesterday:
Henry Lattin, of Farmingdale, L.I., testified that the deceased, Susannah Lattin, was his daughter; saw her alive last in the middle of the month of April; when she left his home as she intended, as she said, going to his son's place at Glen Cove, L.I.; heard no more of her till the 8th of June when his son informed him that she had been at his house, but had left, and on inquiry no trace could be found of her whereabouts; His son's wife called about the 8th of June and said she had heard that Susannah was in New-York, and that somebody had been paying her board, but that she was in debt for two weeks' lodging and the landlady threatened to turn her out; he also learned she was in a delicate way at the time; could not say by whom she was put in that condition, but supposed it was done by a young man in a Brooklyn shoe store, who was keeping her company; heard nothing more about deceased until the receipt of the letter from young Daun, at No. 6 Amity-place; he (witness) and his wife came to town yesterday morning, and went to No. 6 Amity-place; was told there, after a while, by the servant girl, that his daughter had been delivered of a child a day or so after she came to the house; his daughter had no misunderstanding with him before she left, but was always well treated, and her condition rendered comfortable; when first informed of his daughter's condition his wife sent word that she was welcome to come home, but she declined to do so on account of the state she was in.
George Lattin testified that deceased was his sister; he had heard that she left home, but, did not know to what place she had gone; in company with one of his sisters he went in search of her, but failed to find her; about the 5th of June he received a letter from her, dated New-York, in which she stated that the young man who had been keeping her company left her and went away to Maryland; that she was in a destitute condition, and that the landlady threatened to turn her out; she also mentioned the delicate condition in which she was; witness sent his brother-in-law to bring her away, and when she came home and stated that a young men with whom she had been keeping company put her in that condition; his name he thought was George Holten, clerk in Whitehouse's shoe store, Fulton-street, Brooklyn; she told him the whole story of her acquaintance with the young man, how be had sent her packages of medicine to produce a miscarriage, and when she wrote to say she had found the medicine of no avail, he returned answer, telling her to come down at once to Brooklyn as something else should be done; she also interned witness that two doctors had had a consultation in her case in reference to producing an abortion, but the operation was not performed.
Edward Dann, No. 6 Amity-place, sworn, deposed that he was a student of the New-York University, studying under Dr. Grindle since last April; the doctor had other students who attended the same university; could not say what the doctor's particular business was; believed it was special diseases; he attended also to cases of midwifery; only took those as boarders who came to his house to be confined; there might have been fifteen or twenty cases of confinement there since last April: as far as he knew all these cases were delivered of living children.
By the Coroner
Q. What becomes of all these children? A. They are adopted out.
Q. Does one person adopt them all? A. No, Sir; different persons come and take them away.
Q. Is any record kept of where these children go? A. No, Sir.
Q. Who attends to this business of adopting out the children?
A. Dr. and Mrs. Grindle.
Q. Do these women that apply for admission give in their names as married or single? A. They always represent themselves as married women. The deceased came to the house about three weeks since for the purpose of being confined.
Q. Who told you so? A. Dr. Grindle; she was confined the next night; Mrs. Grindle attended to her case; a living child was born; Mrs. Grindle herself brought it down stairs to be washed and dressed.
Q. What is done with the children afterward? A. They are put in a cradle and brought up on a bottle; those ladies that bring their infants there to he adopted out are treated it the same way; the child of the deceased was taken away several days after its birth; could not say who it was took the child away; several ladies called for the purpose of procuring children to adopt; Dr. Grindle attended deceased after her confinement, and when he was leaving the City pronounced the condition of the patient quite satisfactory; he left instructions with the student in charge of the establishment to call in Dr. Dorn, at Bleecker-street, it advice was necessary; there were five lady patients in the house at the time; Dr. Dorn called and said deceased had fever and diarrhea; understood him afterward to say that she bad typhoid fever; she grew gradually worse, and another physician, Dr. Finnell, of West Houston-street, was called in; when she had grown very weak she told witness to tell her parents to come and see her, and gave hint the address of a man named Powell, in Fulton Market, who could tell him the way to her home; recognized Powell as the same man who called upon deceased three or four times during her illness under the name of Smith. The mother of the deceased was also sworn and examined, when she corroborated the evidence given by her husband.
Mrs. Mary Pepper, of Mount Vernon, testified; I am a nurse by occupation, attending women in confinement; I came to this City about a week ago on a visit to my daughter in West Thirteenth-street; I was called on by Mr. Dann to go to Dr. Grindle's house, where I was informed that I was wanted to attend the deceased while being confined; I called about a week ago last Wednesday; I went to the house not knowing the character of the house, as I was desirous of employment; I was shown the deceased; I asked her how she was and she replied that she was very comfortable; I was engaged to attend the deceased exclusively; deceased referred to her confinement, and told me that she had had a baby; I asked her where it was; she replied that she did not know exactly where it was then; I asked her if she had nursed it, and she said "no, they had given it a bottle;" she also told me that it was to be adopted out; I ascertained from her that the child was born alive and was quite well when she last saw it; see gave me no explicit information regarding the adoption of the child; deceased progressed favorably, although she had diarrhea. The doctor said he was afraid that the diarrhea would increase and fever set in; a few days after my arrival the doctor told me that deceased had typhoid fever; that was on either Tuesday or Wednesday last; the they after my arrival I asked her if she had a mother, and she replied that she had a good mother; I asked if she would not like to see her mother, and deceased replied yes, but she did not wish them to know her whereabouts just then; I asked her it her parents knew of her condition, and she said she believed they mistrusted her; she declined to give me her real name or address; the gentleman who came so often to see her was known as Mr. Smith, and her assumed some was the same; it was not until the day of her death that he acknowledged her real name, or professed to have a desire to see her mother; on that day she also told me the some of the gentleman who came to see her; his name is George Powell, not Henry; she told me that Powell was the man who had brought her to Dr. Grindle's house; she said he was not the father of her child; he appeared to be the brother or her sister's husband, and he paid all the expenses as a friend to the deceased; He seemed a little anxious; on the second day after my arrival I left her alone with Mr. Powell at her request; he came every day except two, remaining an hour each time, until I checked him, as I thought the deceased was too feeble to endure any conversation; I know nothing of the other patients in the house, except to see two ladies leave in a carriage; I was to be paid by a young man attached to the house, and was engaged by Dann; I asked her particularly regarding the birth of the child, and she told me distinctly that he had been born alive.
Question by a juror
Q. What time was it that she told you that it was a natural birth? A. On the second day after I came.
Q. Have you ever attended a patient with typhoid fever? A. Yes.
Q. Do you think deceased died of typhoid fever? A. I do, indeed.
The case was then adjourned until Thursday morning, as the other witnesses were not in attendance.
Notes: "George Holten" is later identified as George C. Houghton.