‘The baby burner’

Julia Fortmeyer, 1875

One of the earliest stories about abortion in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch archives was published in 1874 by The Dispatch, one of the newspaper’s predecessors. It involved a midwife-abortionist named Julia Fortmeyer, who lived at 1817 Morgan Street (now Delmar, between 18th and 19th streets).

Fortmeyer’s brush with infamy began in August of that year, when she asked local authorities to retrieve the body of Lena Miller, an African American woman of about 18 years, who died after a crude abortion and after receiving what was described as an overdose of morphine.

Police also found a second woman, Louise Beehler (or Biehler), clearly in distress.

And they discovered, according to contemporaneous reports and trial testimony, remains of fetuses, or babies, in Fortmeyer’s oven.

Read more of this post