Split Up When One Parent Died?

In some families the death of one parent may have left the surviving parent with more children than they could handle. Younger children may have gone to live with relatives; older ones may have gone to work nearby as a hired laborers, housekeepers, apprentices, etc.; others may have simply run off if there were too many mouths to feed.

In families that lived hand-to-mouth, the death of one parent may have sent the family into a tailspin.


6 thoughts on “Split Up When One Parent Died?

  1. Ann

    This is what I think happened to my Irish relatives. Thomas Murphy came from Ireland around 1847 with 11 children after their Mother died, but I cannot find them together in a census or on a ship roster. The youngest was a young girl and I assumed she would be with her father but I’ve had no luck in finding them. Her obituary states, she lived in New York for a short time and then moved to Davenport, Iowa. Since her name was Bridget Murphy and her father was Thomas Murphy it’s been a nightmare trying to find them. I have wondered if she went into domestic help and was not in a census with family.

  2. Miriam J Robbins

    When my great-grandmother was committed to a mental institution (and where she later died) following the Spanish Influenza epidemic, my great-grandfather farmed out the older kids to relatives and placed the younger ones in the local children’s home. He gathered all the children back together when he remarried to a widow with a young son. I recently obtained the index card of the family files from the children’s home (the original files were destroyed), which also confirmed the children, including those from his second family, were temporarily placed back in the home when my great-grandfather went to prison for a couple of years.

  3. kjf

    In my family tree I’ve found where two siblings died rather close together, leaving their spouses with many children between the two households. Ended up the surviving spouses married each other.

  4. Carol McManus

    There was something called Orphan Trains which transported children out of orphanages to Midwest farms as labor and domestic help. You can google that. Some people adopted the children and they had a good life, while others were essentially slave labor. It was a toss-up. I read an expanded biography about a young Irish girl that was sent to the Dakotas. I wish I could remember the name of it.

  5. Patty

    Thank u for this information. I think it is helping to answer many questions that earlier in my quest for knowledge hadn’t found. This gives me places to look into.

  6. LInda

    My story is a little different – a family was split up after a second marriage. When my great-great grandmother died giving birth to her 6th child, her husband coped for awhile with the help of family, but then he remarried, and his new wife apparently didn’t like children much. So the two youngest were farmed out – the baby, now about 4 year old, lived with his uncle, and his sister (my great-grandmother) was sent about 50 miles away to live with a family that seems to have no connection at all to mine. She wasn’t working for them – they sent her to school and raised her like their own, and she even named one of her children after them. It’s driving me crazy trying to figure out how they were connected.


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