Awhile ago I wrote about the story in my husband’s family about their one great grandfather being “sold” at the Ohio State Fair to a farmer down near the southern Ohio border. Turns out, that this very thing, however unbelievable and far fetched, is absolutely, 100% true.
I reached out on a whim to the Ohio State Fair administration office and they answered within 24 hours. The Ohio State Fair has a historian named C. LaVon Shook and he wrote a book entitled A History of the Ohio State Fair in which he documents the Children’s Home Society offering “on the spot” adoptions of children. There was even an article in the Columbus Dispatch! (see below!)
I spoke with Mr. Shook via email and this is what he wrote back regarding these “adoptions” –
“The 1902 story appeared in the Columbus Dispatch and seemingly suggests an adoption process designed to benefit youngsters as well as … “responsible farmers and other persons…” with a minimum of paperwork. In 1905 a story appeared in the newspaper and it read: “The Children’s Home Society corner is a busy place and before the fair was half over, Dr. Darby had received offers of homes for 20 children while at least 40 people who had been placed in happy homes by the Society came up to greet the doctor and his wife, one of them bringing her own chubby baby.” (Columbus Dispatch)
It’s even further documented here on this site talking about the “Strange Stories of the Ohio State Fair“. (an interesting read!)
I haven’t had time yet to really dig into the Children’s Home Society in Columbus, Ohio but briefly I came across a few articles where they were under scrutiny for various reasons. Supposedly the administrator’s adopted daughter burned all the records or something to that effect. Once my school is done in April, I plan on digging further when I head to Ohio on a genealogy road trip but I thought it was interesting to share with everyone that yes, this did indeed happen. So amazing to be able to confirm this long held family story and lay to rest some questions for my husband’s grandfather who always wondered whether this was true or not. (it was his dad’s story)