About this blog


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New York Herald, 19 January 1872.

On the 17th of January, 1872, Josephine McCarty, nee Fagan, known in her hometown as the abortionist Mrs. Dr. Emma Burleigh, shot and killed Mr. Henry Hall on a streetcar in Utica, NY, in an attempt to murder insurance agent Milton Thomson, the father of two of her children. The incident caused a minor stir in New York papers, which followed Mrs. McCarty’s trial to its conclusion: an acquittal on account of temporary female insanity.

I am researching the life and times of Josephine McCarty: doctor, murderer, mother, abortionist, wife, witness, lover, divorcee, spy, prisoner, farmer, Southerner, Yankee, “the woman at the bottom of it all.” This blog is a space for reflecting on that research, sharing odd tidbits and jumping down rabbit holes, and mapping out all the bizarre complexities of a life reconstructed through newspaper headlines and census records.


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