Were the Kids Farmed Out?

If you “lose a child” of a couple on which you are working, don’t assume the child died? It’s possible that he went to live with a relative or even a stranger if the family had too many mouths to feed or if the relative needed extra help on the farm or with the household chores and young children.

It was not unheard of to “farm out” children to others–and this applies to farming and non-farming ancestors.

If the child disappeared, consider that she could be living with other relatives. If that relative lived a distance away, the child may have ended up settling in that area.

2 thoughts on “Were the Kids Farmed Out?

  1. Dee Edson

    This was the case with my g-g-g grandparents’ children. The father died, and the mother found places for five children under 10 (!!), and went to work In the mills in Lowell, MA. I know where a couple of them went, but not all, and since this was about 1830, there wasn’t any useful information in the census. They all resurfaced later, but some of their earlier locations are a tantalizing mystery!

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  2. Pamela Epple

    My grandfather, as the oldest child, was sent to live and work with another family in their farming community (horse & buggy days). He never forgave his father for sending him away from his mother after she died soon after giving birth to a younger brother. On a positive note, however, I do have the trunk he used for all his worldly possessions while he lived away.

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