The Tragic True Story Of Heiress Ann Cooper Hewitt

Ann Cooper Hewitt was born in 1914 in Paris, France. She was part of a prominent New York family and was slated to inherit a vast fortune. Sadly, what would have been a happy life turned tragic because of monetary greed. Today, Hewitt is known as the young woman who battled her own mother in court for having her sterilized without her knowledge.

In the 1930s, as reported by HuffPost, more than 60,000 people were sterilized — a form of eugenics — in the United States. The term eugenics means “good creation,” and it is the practice of bettering the human species by mating those who have the genes ideal for the perfect society. Forced sterilization was one of the ways society was “cleansed,” as it prevented minorities and the mentally disabled from producing offspring (via History). In the late 1920s, eugenics laws were in place and forced sterilization was not unlawful. It wasn’t until 1942 when it was deemed illegal, but by then, thousands had already been sterilized — one of them being Ann Cooper Hewitt.

Ann Cooper Hewitt's wealthy father

Ann Cooper Hewitt was born to Peter Cooper Hewitt and Maryon Andrews Brugiere in 1914 — the result of an extramarital affair. Peter divorced his then-wife and married Maryon in 1918. He was an electrical engineer and the inventor of the mercury-vapor lamp, and other inventions under his name include the radio receiver and the mercury rectifier, per Britannica. Ann’s father earned $1 million in 1901 for inventing the mercury-vapor lamp, but he was already a wealthy man even before that. He was the grandson of engineer Peter Cooper, who built the first steam engine in the U.S. (called the Tom Thumb locomotive) and was one of the wealthiest men of his time.

Ann’s father died in 1921 when she was just 7 years old, but she had fond memories of him. “He was one of the few precious gifts of my life. He was a tall man, very kind and gentle. I think of him walking beside me, suiting his long gait to mine. It seems to me I spent all my happy times with him,” Ann said (via Town & Country Magazine).

Ann's relationship with her mother

While Ann Cooper Hewitt had a good relationship with her father, she had the opposite with her mother, Maryon Brugiere. As a baby, Hewitt was allegedly confined to a crib, and her mother left her to be cared for by the maids. When her father died, Brugiere prohibited Hewitt from leaving their home or making friends with other children. “Mother didn’t have one spark of affection for me, and she refused to permit others who did. She always called me an ‘imbecile’ and an ‘ugly duckling’,” Hewitt said, per an article by Town & Country Magazine.

Brugiere did not only verbally abuse her daughter, but she also allegedly physically hurt her, as Hewitt testified in court. According to the New York Post, Hewitt showed the court a scar she had on her forehead that was allegedly the result of a wine glass that her mother smashed on her. She also showed a burn mark on her arm that she claimed was from her mother’s cigarette.

Stipulations of inheritance

When Peter Cooper Hewitt died in 1921, his estate was worth more than $4 million, which is approximately $61 million in today’s money. Per the Daily Mail, Peter left a last will and testament that consisted of a stipulation on the inheritance that Ann Cooper Hewitt and Maryon Brugiere would receive. One-third of his wealth was left to Brugiere, while the remaining two-thirds would go to Ann. That’s not all, however, as the will stipulated that in the event Ann died without having an heir, her inheritance will automatically go to Brugiere.

The will’s clause was the catalyst for a series of events that would eventually land Ann and Maryon battling each other in the court of law. Brugiere was determined to get the full inheritance from his husband, and the only way to do that was to ensure that her daughter would never be able to bear any children. She devised a way to have Ann sterilized without her knowledge.

Ann Cooper Hewitt's forced sterilization

In 1934, when Ann Cooper Hewitt was 20 years old, she was out having lunch with Maryon Brugiere when she suddenly felt pain in her abdominal area. Her mother rushed her to a hospital where a medical practitioner, Dr. Tilton Tillman, diagnosed her with appendicitis without performing a thorough examination of her body, as reported by the New York Post. She was asked to return to the hospital four days later to have her appendix removed by Dr. Samuel Boyd. The surgery was carried out and Hewitt stayed in the hospital for a few weeks to recover.

According to Town & Country Magazine, it was while in the hospital when Hewitt overheard employees talking about her and referring to her as the “idiot patient.” She also heard a nurse conversing with Dr. Tillman, telling him that she “didn’t suspect a thing.” Eventually, Hewitt found out that she didn’t just have an appendectomy, but also a salpingectomy — the process of removing a woman’s fallopian tubes to prevent pregnancy (via WebMD). Brugiere ensured that the surgery took place before Hewitt’s 21st birthday, as that would make her daughter a legal adult and free to make her own decisions.

Maryon Brugiere was charged with mayhem

Upon learning the truth about her surgery, Ann Cooper Hewitt hired an attorney and held a press conference in 1936, where she announced that she was suing her own mother for $500,000. As an heiress, Hewitt’s shocking claim made headlines and caught the attention of many, including San Francisco’s then-District Attorney Matthew Brady, as reported by Crime Reads. Hewitt accused her mother of bribing two doctors and an alienist to perform the salpingectomy without her knowledge. She said her mother’s motivation was to ensure that she would die without an heir and get her share of the inheritance.

Brugiere and the doctors were charged with mayhem — the act of unlawfully removing a part of a body resulting in disfigurement or uselessness. At that time, sterilization can only be done legally to those who suffered from mental illness, and Hewitt’s lawyer argued that his client wasn’t feebleminded. Brugiere bribed the doctors $9,000 each to operate on her daughter, and medical records were also altered to justify the removal of Hewitt’s fallopian tubes, per the Daily Mail. A psychologist deemed Hewitt feeble-minded before the operation, but one physician testified in court against the claim and said, “She writes fluently in French and can converse in Italian. She has read books on Shakespeare, French history, Napoleon Bonaparte, Marie Antoinette, King Lear, Dante’s Inferno, and the works of Charles Dickens.”

Ann Hewlitt Cooper's later life

The crime of mayhem was typically punished with up to 14 years in prison at the time of Hewitt’s case against her mother. During the trial, both sides presented their argument, but the case ended in a settlement where Brugiere paid Hewitt $150,000. Just three years later, Brugiere had a stroke and died (via the Daily Mail). Hewitt went on to live her life. She married five times throughout her life and died of cancer at the age of 40.

Today, unfortunately, forced sterilizations still occur as there are those who truly believe in eugenics. In 2020, as reported by the Center for Constitutional Rights, a nurse employed at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Georgia revealed that detainees were kept in horrible conditions and some were subjected to hysterectomies without their knowledge. There have also been reports of incarcerated individuals being bribed with lesser prison sentences in exchange for undergoing sterilization.

55 thoughts on “The Tragic True Story Of Heiress Ann Cooper Hewitt

  1. Kthsro says:

    fenofibrate online order tricor 200mg without prescription fenofibrate generic

  2. Nhnquj says:

    purchase ketotifen without prescription doxepin for sale imipramine 25mg generic

  3. Dewkjd says:

    order cialis 40mg sale sildenafil without a doctor’s prescription sildenafil 25mg price

  4. Hgbvlo says:

    purchase acarbose generic order acarbose fulvicin canada

  5. Enzwfx says:

    minoxytop uk buy cialis tablets buy ed pills tablets

  6. Ezazao says:

    order dipyridamole pill felodipine 10mg generic buy generic pravachol for sale

  7. Vyhqip says:

    fludrocortisone online buy buy imodium medication buy imodium cheap

  8. Iutisi says:

    buy meloset medication brand aygestin 5mg danazol 100 mg for sale

  9. Fbdjwl says:

    order duphaston 10 mg pills buy forxiga 10mg order generic jardiance

  10. Yuaaqu says:

    etodolac 600mg cheap cilostazol 100 mg cost pletal 100 mg usa

  11. Xjhjvg says:

    ferrous sulfate online order betapace 40 mg online buy generic sotalol over the counter

  12. Cmrwlh says:

    mestinon generic order piroxicam 20mg online cheap purchase maxalt generic

  13. Jfxmxc says:

    betahistine online buy how to buy xalatan benemid usa

  14. Dsjxkz says:

    premarin over the counter order generic dostinex order viagra 100mg

  15. Xjofdh says:

    telmisartan 20mg price plaquenil 400mg over the counter molnupiravir 200 mg us

  16. Sawjcj says:

    order cialis 20mg without prescription tadalafil 40mg usa viagra sale

  17. Bnpamq says:

    oral omnicef buy glucophage pills buy lansoprazole 30mg online cheap

  18. Enaqxi says:

    modafinil cheap phenergan buy online buy prednisone 5mg generic

  19. Pceqyt says:

    cheap pepcid 20mg oral famotidine prograf 5mg for sale

  20. Cmiybw says:

    order zyloprim sale zyloprim tablet rosuvastatin 20mg cheap

  21. Afocmm says:

    nexium tablet cheap mirtazapine buy topiramate 200mg online

  22. Namzqo says:

    order sumatriptan pill levaquin 500mg pills purchase dutasteride without prescription

  23. Tdasok says:

    buspin order order generic amiodarone order cordarone 100mg for sale

  24. Zvoxlc says:

    ranitidine 150mg price order meloxicam 15mg generic order celecoxib 200mg for sale

  25. Cicsnz says:

    cheap motilium cost sumycin 250mg buy generic sumycin for sale

  26. Fjapge says:

    tamsulosin ca zofran medication buy zocor pill

  27. Iypyea says:

    thesis writing services help with papers help writing essays

  28. Yaurvq says:

    order spironolactone pills aldactone 25mg us buy propecia no prescription

  29. Nwbjdz says:

    sildenafil price order estrace online cheap buy yasmin without a prescription

  30. Hvfplr says:

    diflucan cheap ampicillin 250mg pills baycip sale

  31. Jnihzt says:

    lamotrigine 200mg tablet buy nemazole for sale vermox 100mg tablet

  32. Awybzc says:

    flagyl uk order metronidazole 200mg online cephalexin 125mg pill

  33. Vvvjte says:

    retin brand cost stendra generic avana 200mg

  34. Mmysfh says:

    cleocin 300mg tablet order cleocin 300mg online cheap mens erection pills

  35. Ghtuif says:

    tadalafil uk purchase indocin without prescription indocin for sale online

  36. Imyqup says:

    buy nolvadex online cheap brand nolvadex 20mg purchase budesonide without prescription

  37. Mrteoj says:

    buy lamisil no prescription buy terbinafine generic blackjack for money

  38. Sheewu says:

    buy generic axetil over the counter buy generic lumigan cost methocarbamol

  39. Qaazkb says:

    purchase desyrel without prescription purchase desyrel pills buy generic clindac a

  40. Yosbpg says:

    term papers for sale make biography suprax 200mg uk

  41. Xpuxwa says:

    order aspirin 75 mg pill buy generic aspirin for sale blackjack online free

  42. Ourxcc says:

    amoxicillin tablet buy amoxicillin 500mg online biaxin 250mg drug

  43. Zegsas says:

    best essay service online slot games real casino slot machine games

  44. Hddgfx says:

    clonidine over the counter buy tiotropium bromide 9mcg sale order tiotropium bromide 9mcg

  45. Sayoeb says:

    rocaltrol 0.25mg drug trandate 100 mg us fenofibrate 200mg generic

  46. Wpyugq says:

    cost minocin 50mg order hytrin 1mg online cheap buy ropinirole online

  47. Epqpqf says:

    best acne medication for men prescription medication for severe acne buy trileptal 300mg pill

  48. Mabboc says:

    buy alfuzosin pills for sale major brand allergy pills heartburn medicines over the counter

  49. Vhgaam says:

    buy femara generic albenza for sale buy aripiprazole generic

  50. Ieysys says:

    prescription drugs for smoking cessation strongest otc pain reliever list of painkillers by name

  51. Jbxlhv says:

    list of common antiviral drugs type 2 diabetes lab results diabetic pills names

  52. Thxwkm says:

    cymbalta 40mg cost purchase glipizide online cheap buy modafinil generic

  53. Otmyxf says:

    cheap promethazine stromectol 3mg usa stromectol usa

  54. Pizibs says:

    how long before gastritis heals antiarrhythmics medication examples best over counter uti medicine

  55. Bipqwa says:

    where can i buy prednisone accutane drug oral amoxicillin 250mg

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *