Susan Parker #645 (b. Cameron, 1841-1943) and four of her children came to stay at the Poorhouse after being deserted by the children’s father, John Parker (1834-1900), on December 14, 1876. Susan was born in Scotland where she married John Parker in Cambusnethan, Scotland on March 20, 1857.  They had four children in Scotland- James (1857- bef.1866), Elisabeth Bertha Turner (1859-), Angus (1862-), and Margaret (1864-)- before moving to New York, USA in 1866. From New York, they moved to Waterloo, Ontario where Susan’s brothers, Daniel (1839-1879) and John (1844-1916), immigrated to a year later. Additionally, Susan had five more children: Jean Dryburg/Jane (1868-1943), Mary (1869-), Susan (1870-), John Smith (1872-), and Jenny (1879-).  

In 1871, Susan and John were living in Galt with their children Elisabeth, Angus, Jane, Mary and Susan. Margaret is not listed on this record and any of the following records, which could mean that she died before 1871. John was working as a moulder and Elisabeth and Angus were going to school. 

Just a few years later, hard times fell on the Parker family and John began drinking. He was admitted to the Poorhouse on February 21, 1876 due to vagrancy. He only stayed at the House for 10 days before he was discharged. There is no information given for where he went. Susan and her children were still living in Galt until they could no longer support themselves and they were committed to the Poorhouse on December 14 of that same year.

Susan was discharged without her children from the House on February 19, 1877 with no indication of where she went. Susan and John eventually got back together and took two of their children, John Smith and Jenny, to Lake, Cook, Illinois. John, the father, died in 1900 in Cook County, Illinois. On his death record, he is listed as being widowed, although Susan was still alive at the time. 

The four Parker children that stayed at the House, Jane #646, Mary #647, John #648 and Donald #649, were all bound out on trial from the Poorhouse at different times throughout 1877.


 Source: Register of Paupers, Vagrants, and Idiots received at the House of Industry and Refuge

Source: Register of Paupers, Vagrants, and Idiots received at the House of Industry and Refuge


Jane was sent to Jacob S Bowman in Haysville on August 10 (the same person who adopted Catherine Gehr just a few months before Jane). Mary was sent to Saul and Paul Herber in St. Agatha on March 17 and Donald was sent to Theodore Schamburger in February. John Smith is the one exception who was discharged to his sister, most likely Elisabeth as she was living in Hamilton around the same time John was discharged from the Poorhouse. Mary was sent back to the Poorhouse on December 24, 1878 after being returned as an apprentice from the Herber household. However, Mary is mentioned in the Standing Committee Minutes on September 11, 1877 as being mistreated by the man that adopted her:


Ordered that the clerk be and he is hereby instructed to notify Mr Paul Herber – St Agatha P.O. that complaint is made of his treatment of the child Mary Parker taken by him.


It’s not for another year until Mary is returned to the Poorhouse. At the age of ten, she has to wait for a month alone in the Poorhouse until her mother comes to discharge her on January 21, 1879. At this point it is unclear of where Mary is taken as Susan, John, John Smith, and Jenny had moved to Illinois later that year.

Elisabeth went on to marry James Edgar (1858-) in 1879 in Galt.

Jane, who was adopted by Jacob S. Bowman, was also allegedly abused by the man that adopted her. Below is a letter written to Joseph A. Laird from the Inspector of the House, Israel D. Bowman in 1881 when Susan Parker came back to Waterloo to visit her children who were adopted out. Susan inquired about the treatment of her daughter, Jane, who was adopted by Mr. Jacob S. Bowman from Haysville.


23rd June 81

Jos. A. Laird Esq


Dear Sir,

        Some four years ago a Mr. Jacob S. Bowman from near Haysville adopted a young girl about 12 years old from our Poor House – the girls name is Jane Parker, she is one of a family, consisting of the mother and two children who were deserted by their husband and father and were not able to support themselves and had to go to the House the children were shortly placed out – and their mother left the House too – and there was no more said about them, until now the mother turns up, she says she lives in the States and that her husband & she are living together again and he is doing better she is over here in Galt on a visit and has been to see her children – she wants to get her daughter whom she saw the other day and says the young girl is very anxious to get away from her place, she does not want to take her to the States however she wishes her to live with her grandparents in Galt – but Mr. B. refuses to give her up unless he is paid $20.00 to repay him for the trouble he has had in raising her – She is now 16 and over – They do not say that the girl is illtreated but complain that she is put out to service with Mr. Bowman’s son-in-law and they think that this should not be allowed – there might be nothing wrong about

Page 47

this however, for I know it is not a very uncommon thing amongst old dutch farmers to have their own daughters go out to service, even though they could afford to do without – Mrs. Parker also went to see her boy about 6 years old who is put out in Waterloo – she is willing to let him remain here he is – I think from what I can make out, it is likely that the old people require some one about the home to help them and it occurred to them that it would be a good idea to get the young girl, instead of hiring some other person – I promised the mother I would make inquiries – not mentioning any names – and would write to her after –

        You would oblige if you get an opportunity to enquire into the condition and treatment of the young girl – if she is illtreated and abused in any way of course we will try and get her away from Mr. Bowman and give her up to her mother, but if she gets fair treatment why we have nothing to do with it – Let me have a few lines at your convenience and in strict confidence of course, so that I can give them some kind of word say in a few weeks & oblige

Yours truly

Israel D. Bowman


It’s unclear as to when Jane left Jacob S. Bowman’s house, however, she does not appear on the 1891 Census as still living with him. She married Harold Percy Pitts (1872-1948) on October 25, 1893 and they had daughter, Hazel Nash Pitts, one year later. In 1900/1901, the family moved to San Mateo, California. They remained in California until their deaths.