A child having a guardian does not mean that both of the child’s parents are deceased. For much of American history a guardian had to be appointed even if the father was dead and the mother was alive. A guardian could also be appointed if someone giving the child an inheritance did not want a parent (usually the father) having control over the property.

An immigrant wanting to get married under the legal age would need a guardian to sign off on the marriage even if both parents were living overseas.

Do not assume everyone with a guardian had no parents living.

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3 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing this information!! Through lack of knowledge I can see where I would make some wrong assumptions regarding guardians.

  2. Hi, very true. My great-grandmother’s older sister was injured by a faulty boardwalk back in the 1880’s. The family sued the town, eventually taking the case to the state’s Supreme Court, and receiving a big settlement. Because of this settlement, the sister needed to then have a guardian. I have copies of the paperwork and her father was eventually named her guardian. My take on that is that everyone, including the judge, felt my great-great grandpa was a very honest man (which I’ve heard from family the same) and was going to be sure his daughter had the money. The sister suffered from her injuries the rest of her life and, looking at her death certificate, they seem to have been a major factor in her dying at a young age leaving her husband and young son behind.

  3. I found this interesting. Far more information in that nugget than I learned when I did a search. My sixth great-granduncle was mortally wounded in the Battle of Kings Mountain. He was the father of two very young boys at the time, the youngest a babe-in-arms when his father perished. To my surprise, even though their mother ‘remarried’, my sixth great-grandfather was listed as their guardian. In this case, it may have been more that the ‘marriage’ was suspect. No one has been able to find any true record of this second marriage and in her father’s own Will, he lists her by her previous married name. It’s a good thing Uncle was there to watch over the boys.

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