Fallen gravestone of Susannah Lattin (1848-1868) in Powell Cemetery in 2002
January 7, 1848|
Farmingdale, New York
|Died||August 27, 1868
|Cause of death||Childbirth|
|Resting place||Powell Cemetery|
|Known for||Abortion debate|
|Parents||Henry K. Lattin (1806-1894)
Julia Wood (1813-1873)
|Relatives||Jarvis Andrew Lattin (1853-1941), brother|
Susannah Lattin (January 7, 1848 – August 27, 1868) was an American woman who died of a postpartum infection at an illegal maternity clinic at 6 Amity Place in New York City, operated by Henry Dyer Grindle. Her death led to an investigation which resulted in regulation of maternity clinics and adoptions in New York City in 1868.
Lattin was born in Farmingdale on Long Island, the daughter of Henry K. Lattin (1806-1894) and Julia Wood (1813-1873). Her siblings included: Mary E. Lattin(1833-1874); George Lattin (1837-?); Juliett Lattin (c. 1840-?); William H. Lattin (1842-1871); Phoebe Maria Lattin (c. 1845-?); Smith Lattin (1849-?); Charles G. Lattin (1850-1869); Jarvis Andrew Lattin (1853-1941); and Deborah Jane Lattin (1858-1861) who died as a child. One of Lattin's sisters also died in 1868.
Lattin became pregnant by George C. Houghton; he was a clerk at Whitehouse's boot and shoe store on Fulton Street, Brooklyn. He paid $50 to Dr. J.C. Harrison to perform an abortion, but Lattin did not go through with it. She was still hoping that Houghton would marry her. Houghton then quit his job and moved to Philadelphia, to escape the situation. Lattin next went to her cousin, George H. Powell who worked as a butcher at the Washington Market to help her. He pretended to be her husband and arranged for her, as "Mrs. Smith", to see Dr. Henry D. Grindle, who ran an unauthorized "lying-in" hospital that allowed pregnant woman to have their children and have them illegally adopted. The doctor wanted her to pay $150, but she could only pay $100 and he accepted it.
Lattin checked into the lying-in hospital on August 5, 1868, then a few weeks later she delivered a healthy baby boy who was adopted anonymously without any record kept of the adoptive parents. Around August 18, 1868, she developed a postpartum infection. The medical student who attended to her realized Susannah was in serious condition and was not likely to survive, and he persuaded her to tell him her real name so he could notify her family. The message got to her parents after she had died.
From: 6 Amity Place, Manhattan. To: Mr. Henry Lattin. Dear Sir: You daughter is at No. 6 Amity Place, very sick with typhoid fever, and I do not expect her to live twenty-four hours. She inquires about her mother frequently, and wants her to come immediately. Yours truly, E. Daun. P.S. take the Fulton Street cars at the ferry and they will take you to the house. E. Daun.
She was later buried in the family plot in Powell Cemetery in Farmingdale.
Susannah Lattin came to death by metroperitonitis, the result of child-birth at D.H. Grindle's establishment at No. 6 Amity Place on August 27, 1868. We further censure Dr. Grindle for the irregular method of operating his business, relative to taking in women to confine, and also the method of adopting children so delivered. We further recommend the Legislature to so enact a law whereby all such establishments shall be under the supervision of the Board of Health, or any other recognized authority. We further condemn the practice of any regular medical college recognizing students connected with any such establishments.
- 1867, November; Susannah gets impregnated by George C. Houghton (1845-?)
- 1868, April; Susannah and George Houghton go to abortionist and pay $50
- 1868, August 6, 1868, Thursday; Susannah Lattin and George H. Powell go to the lying-in hospital and pay $100 of the $150 fee
- 1868, August 7, 1868, Friday; Susannah gives birth
- 1868, August 15, 1868; Dr. John H. Dorn, diagnoses "fever and loose bowels"
- 1868, August 18, 1868; Infection worsens
- 1868, August 27, 1868; Death of Susannah Lattin from infection
- 1868, August 29, 1868; Coroner inquest begins
- "A Mysterious Case. A Missing Daughter Found Dead In a Private Lying-In Hospital. The Case in the Hands of the Coroner.". New York Times. August 29, 1868. Retrieved 2012-07-09. "A rather singular case of death occurred yesterday morning, in the private Lying-in Hospital of Dr. H.D. Grindle, at No. 6 Amity-Place, which is surrounded with considerable mystery and suspicion"
- Hoolihan, Christopher (2001). An Annotated Catalogue of the Edward C. Atwater Collection of American Popular Medicine and Health Reform. Boydell & Brewer. ISBN 1580460984.
- "The Amity Place mystery". New York Times. August 30, 1868. Retrieved 2007-08-21. "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."
- "Daughter of a resident of Farmingdale dies under suspicious circumstances. The body found in a lying-in hospital". Brooklyn Eagle. August 29, 1868. Retrieved 2012-07-11. "Last Wednesday Mr. Henry Lattin, a resident of Farmingdale, Long Island received a letter of which the following is a copy: From: 6 Amity Place, Manhattan. To: Mr. Henry Lattin. Dear Sir: You daughter is at No. 6 Amity Place, very sick with typhoid fever, and I do not expect her to live twenty-four hours. She inquires about her mother frequently, and wants her to come immediately. Yours truly, E. Daun. P.S. take the Fulton Street cars at the ferry and they will take you to the house. E. Daun. Mr. and Mrs Lattin started at once for New York ..."