“Wealthy Unmarried Mothers Are ‘Baby Farm’ Victims Is Charge” from the May 16, 1914 issue of The Day Book of Chicago.
State’s Attorney’s Office Begins War on Baby Farming—Four Arrests Made—Investigation Alleged Oak Park Haven for Rich Girls
The state’s attorney’s office is going after the “baby farms” in Cook county. The work has been placed in charge of Ass’t State’s Attorney Eugene C. O’Reilly.
According to information now in the hands of O’Reilly there are several of the places outside the city limits where the keepers and doctor feel safe from raids by the Chicago police.
It has been brought to light that a farm exists in Oak Park to which come the wealthy unmarried mothers to deliver their children. O’Reilly will take action against this place.
Two more girl-mothers were brought into the Court of Domestic Relations this morning. One of them was Mrs. Jessie Rudeen, the mother of “Jacob,” the baby whose death in the “house of mystery” at 6108 Blackstone avenue lead to the discovery of a baby farm at that address. She has since married Jacob’s father.
The other defendant today was Miss Mary Mortell, the daughter of wealthy Aurora parents. She was arrested last night at the home of her uncle, Thomas H. Patterson, 8723 S. Racine avenue.
Their arrest followed the raid on the “house of mystery,” which resulted in the arrest of Dr. Thomas Balhatchett and Mrs. Annie Mills, the keeper. Mrs. Mills later made a statement to O’Reilly in which she exposed the entire business.
The girls were hysterical when arrested. They denied the charges at first, but, according to the police, later broke down and admitted they had become the mothers of children in the Blackstone avenue house and had accused Dr. Balhatchett of aiding them to conceal their motherhood.
Their case was continued until May 19 when they will be heard with Dr. Balhatchett and Mrs. Mills.
O’Reilly announced that no efforts would be spared by the state’s attorney’s office to fix the real guilt of “baby farming.”
“We’re going after the higher-ups in these cases,” said O’Reilly, “principally the doctors who are getting wealthy from the practice. There are two classes of these places. There are the ones to which the working girls creep when their babe is about to be born. And then there’s the other places which shake down the daughters of wealthy parents who go there to hide their disgrace. Any girl in that condition, whether she is rich or poor, is a harvest for those sorts of doctors.”
There is a rumor that a daughter of a Chicago millionaire has recently become the mother of a child in one of the “farms” on the outskirts of the city.
When this rumor was reached the City Hall detectives were sent out to trail the report. A sensational arrest is expected between now and Monday by the police.
Officer John Stege, who is working on the “baby farm” cases, announced today that he would soon come into possession of some important evidence.