Daily Archives: November 26, 2012

Family Tree and reading about the Butterbox Babies…


Well the post a day for November failed…but…

I have been busy updating one of my family trees with notes about each person, what they did, what they were known for, details found in different census reports so that the person viewing the tree – gets an idea about who that ancestor really was.  My intent is to make ancestors real to the family members who never heard the family stories of them, and  give the historical information about the events happening at the time that are relevant to that ancestor.  History when your ancestor was part of it has to be more interesting than what you learned in school, which also means I am updating my knowledge as well.

When I need a break from that, I am reading the book I ordered – Butterbox Babies – Baby Sales Baby Deaths New Revelations 15 Years Later by Bette L. Cahill.  The story of William and Lila Young, and the Ideal Maternity Home in East Chester, N.S. Canada.  Truly one of the most heartbreaking and horrifying historical stories, and although the home was in Canada, many of the babies were adopted into the US.  The Youngs operated in Canada during the same era as Georgia Tann did in the US.

Links to stories on the web of survivors of the Ideal Maternity Home (IDM)…

GV woman helps ‘Butterbox Baby’ survivors understand past July 2012

There was always something curious about Sharon Knight’s early childhood, although it would be many years before she’d learn what it was. When she did, it was far beyond her imagination.

Much distance, time and some sleepless nights would pass before Knight, who now lives in Green Valley, discovered she was a survivor of a Nova Scotia maternity home that, when she was born there in 1945, was already the target of horrific, almost unspeakable claims. They involved medical malpractice, unwarranted deaths and countless “unadoptable” infants being starved to death then buried in small wooden dairy crates or dumped at sea. In the headlines, they would become known as the butterbox babies.

Who Am I? website features three stories, including tenor Ron Murdock, a survivor of the IDM, and also Canadian Adoptee Rights advocate who wrote the Queen.  In 2003, Ron went to Geneva to address the UN Convention on the Rights of Child.  You can read both the letter to the Queen and his submission to the UNCRC here (scroll down).  A more detailed version of his story can be found on another website called, where an article based on an interview by Pip Farquharson, which can be found here.

The IDM also offered childbirth services to married women in a different area of the home.  Article about Violet Hope Eisenhauer who went to the IDM to give birth, and who was told her daughter passed away, but may have been adopted out instead.  I just finished reading about her in the book this morning, and hopefully further in – there will be more to the story.

Ideal Maternity Home Survivors website that has listings of those reunited, and those still searching, personal stories, and a memorial board among other items.  Survivors of IDM held reunions in Nova Scotia – this article was about past reunions, and the upcoming 2009 reunion.


Posted by on November 26, 2012 in Adoption, Ethics


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