Unfortunate Women

When Cora Haworth's sister was disowned after falling pregnant at fourteen Cora and her husband took action: they founded the Willows Maternity Sanitarium. Established in 1905, it became the Ritz of maternity homes, offering massage and spa treatments to anonymous girls who'd learned too late the consequences of sex in a society that repaid their ignorance with ostracism.

In this fictionalized epistolary account based on true events, Beverly Benson Van Horn weaves together fascinating stories of the inhabitants of the Willows. Part one spans 1905 to 1930 and introduces readers to well-drawn and varied characters, women with unique stories that brought them to the Willows. Part two  covers 1930 to 1953 and follows the Willows as its numbers swell.

From a devastating fire to the stock market crash to a shocking scandal involving a fraudulent adoption, this work takes you on a sweeping historical journey. Between 1905 and 1969, roughly thirty thousand babies wee adopted from the Willows. From the early stigma of unwed pregnancy to the closing of the Willows due to the availability and prevalence of abortion, Unfortunate Women shines a light on the unsung heroism of the many women who've chosen to bless others by giving up something precious.


What a fascinating read. It was an insight of the times and culture when unwed mothers were almost perceived as criminals. How fortunate these young women were to wait for the delivery of the child in a loving, non-judgmental atmosphere. Thanks to the author for sharing some of her family history.

A quick and emotionally touching read. Fascinating tales of what it must have been like the first half of the 20th Century as an unwed mother. The story and characters really draw you in from smiles to moments of choking back tears. Amazing to find out how many of the victims - young girls ignorant of what was happening to them in some cases - became the real heroines as they struggled to give up for adoption, the babies they bore and as a result, blessed so many families. The statistics in the back of the book add a depth of historical information not found elsewhere. The author performed the due diligence required to bring a sense of reality to his untold portion of our history.

How exciting. I look forward to reading it and learning more about this place that has such a strong tie to my family. My mother was born at The Willows in 1929. Despite multiple attempts to find some record of her birth mother, no information was ever found. My mom passed away in 2012 but I hold out hope that she got to meet her birth mom in heaven.

I loved every minute of it. I feel like all of the characters are good friends of mine. I wish I could call each girl and see how their lives turned out. I was also a teacher and many of my students had experiences similar to those of the girls in your book. I actually taught a few classes in one of the establishments. GOOD JOB - A VERY GOOD READ.

Profile Photo Beverly Benson Van Horn

About Beverly Benson Van Horn

Beverly Benson Van Horn attended Christian College in Columbia, MO. as well as Kansas University, majoring in journalism. She went on to produce four audio books based on pioneer women's diaries and authored three nonfiction books. She worked for various newspapers before co-founding in 1975, the Mineral County Miner and South Fork Tines, a Colorado newspaper.

All books by Beverly Benson Van Horn

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