Graves · Tennessee

A woman’s death during an abortion grieved by anonymous benefactor

February 1, 1876
Memphis, Tennessee
Kate McCormick dies during an abortion

The grave reads:

Kate McCormick, Seduced and pregnant by her father’s friend, Unwed she died from abortion, her only choice, Abandoned in life and death by family, With but a single rose from her mother, Buried only through the kindness of an unknown benefactor, Died February 1875, age 21, Victim of an unforgiving society, Have mercy on us.

The gravestone, however, used the incorrect year for McCormick’s death. The correct date of her death was February 1, 1876, confirmed by her death record. A man overseeing the abortion, D. S. Johnson, was indicted for McCormick’s death by giving her “deadly, dangerous, unwholesome, deleterious and pernicious pills, herbs, drugs, potions, teas, liquids, powders and mixtures with intent thereby to cause and procure the miscarriage and abortion of said Kate McCormick and the premature birth and destruction of her said child” (Public Ledger, Memphis TN, Feb. 9 1876).

I could find no further information in newspapers about a possible conviction, but I did find advertisements for Dr. D. S. Johnson in Memphis in December of 1876, so it’s unlikely he was found guilty.

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