In Williamsport, Pennsylvania, on the evening of September 23, 1910, 24-yr-old Marion Springman (1886 to 1910) was dining "in good spirits," according to her husband, trolley conductor W. Ralph Springman (1873 to 1910). Forsaking the dinner table for the upstairs bathroom, she began vomiting violently. Summoned by Marion’s frantic husband, a physician failed to keep her alive. The coroner’s verdict soon revealed that Marion Springman had died from "chloroform poisoning—taken internally with suicidal intent." After falling severely ill just days after his wife’s burial, Ralph passed away 16 days after his wife had done so. Despite physician and coroner pronouncements to the contrary, gossip raced through Williamsport that Ralph had become "poisoned through kissing the remains of his wife after they were prepared for burial." Beyond anesthetizing surgical patients, at the turn of the century, chloroform was misguidedly thought to remedy asthma, cholera, and even gonorrhea. So, were the Springmans’ star-crossed fates sealed by a home remedy gone wrong or domestic desperation? (Copyright © the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology.)

In Williamsport, Pennsylvania, on the evening of September 23, 1910, 24-yr-old Marion Springman (1886 to 1910) was dining "in good spirits," according to her husband, trolley conductor W. Ralph Springman (1873 to 1910). Forsaking the dinner table for the upstairs bathroom, she began vomiting violently. Summoned by Marion’s frantic husband, a physician failed to keep her alive. The coroner’s verdict soon revealed that Marion Springman had died from "chloroform poisoning—taken internally with suicidal intent." After falling severely ill just days after his wife’s burial, Ralph passed away 16 days after his wife had done so. Despite physician and coroner pronouncements to the contrary, gossip raced through Williamsport that Ralph had become "poisoned through kissing the remains of his wife after they were prepared for burial." Beyond anesthetizing surgical patients, at the turn of the century, chloroform was misguidedly thought to remedy asthma, cholera, and even gonorrhea. So, were the Springmans’ star-crossed fates sealed by a home remedy gone wrong or domestic desperation? (Copyright © the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology.)

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Melissa L. Coleman, M.D., Associate Professor, Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania, and George S. Bause, M.D., M.P.H., Wood Library-Museum Curator Emeritus.