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19 June 2011

Were Kids Farmed Out?

Is it possible that some of your ancestor's children were sent to live with neighbors or strangers? That may explain why you cannot find them as children in a census. Your ancestors might not have been able to take care of all fifteen children, or an older relative without children of their own may have needed some extra help around the house or the farm.


  1. Seen this many times

  2. Micheal, Very true. My great-grandmother was widowed with teen-aged twin boys, a younger daughter and pregnant!
    Family story is the newborn baby was adopted 'out'. We went through census of the nearby households and found Thelma with a childless couple that were neighbors. They gave her their last name in all the census until she was 16 when she gave her birth name but still living with this same 'childless' family.

  3. Sad but true. My great-grandmother died when my grandmother was only a year old, leaving my grandfather with four very young children. Each child was sent to a different household and not one of the children stayed in those households for their whole childhood. They were were shuttled from house to house until they were old enough to 'take care of themselves' - for the girls that translated to marriage at 15. That's when I start picking up their trail.