I mentioned before in a previous post that I work in the foster care system. Part of the work involves exploring relatives for children in care. I am passionate about family history and have always believed that learning about one’s roots plays a vital part in finding a sense of belonging. I’ve been eager to use my genealogy skills to help in identifying family resources for these children.
When I first started in the position, I spoke briefly with the other workers about using ancestor charts and family group sheets to record information and gave them some tips on searching for relatives. Mostly I know how to find dead people, of course. It’s been a running joke that if they’re dead, I can find them, but I’m working on using those same skills to locate living kin as well.
I also shared with my co-workers a story about one of my ancestors who lived in the rural south. This story shows how back in the day, relatives were the first place to turn when there was a need for alternative care for children. Here's the story:
Amy Leora Hardy, was born on June 16, 1902 in Christian County, Kentucky. She and her sister, Ruby, born in 1898, were the daughters of William Lewis Hardy and his wife Alice Samantha Lovelace.
Amy wasn't even quite a year old when her mother died in April of 1903 and her grandmother, Martha Sizemore Hardy, helped raise the two girls. Amy's father remarried on 23 July 1904 to a woman named Lela Woodruff and they had a son, Willie, shortly thereafter. It's not known what happened to Lela, whether she died or they divorced. She joined the Christian Church in Sinking Fork under the Woodruff name in 1909 but that is the only information known about her.
In May of 1915, just before Amy turned 13, her grandmother Hardy died. Then in February of the next year, her father announced that he intended to marry another woman. The girls told their aunt that before they would “live in a fuss they were going to get them a home.” Ruby talked of going to her Aunt Onnie Griggs, her mother's sister. Amy asked her Aunt Mary Sadler (her father's sister) if she would find her a home. Their Aunt Mary lived in Cerulean, KY and she wrote to her cousin Will Sizemore to see if maybe they wanted to take Amy into their home.
|1916 ltr from M. Sadler to W. Sizemore, Cerulean, KY p. 1-2|
|1916 ltr from M. Sadler to W. Sizemore, Cerulean, KY p. 3-4|
It's not clear if the Sizemores ever did take Amy into their home or if Amy was able to make peace with her father’s new wife and stay on. Nonetheless, the letter illustrates the importance of family ties in helping raise children in times of need. It’s also a wonderful glimpse of my grandmother as a young teen.