Monday, February 24, 2014

52 Ancestors #7 Caroline Grover Moore – Surrogate Mother

52 Ancestors #7 Caroline Grover Moore – Surrogate Mother

Caroline never had a child of her own but was a surrogate mother to over a dozen children. First it was her siblings, then a step daughter and lastly almost two dozen foster children. She was strict but she made a good home for them all.

Caroline was born on 11 May 1893 in Camden, Camden County, NJ. She was born at home to Margaretta and Charles Moore. She was the first seven children. By the time her brother Earl, my father was born she was 21-yrs-old. She only went through the 5th grade and at 16 was a sales lady in a department store. In 1913 she was working as an embroiderer when she met and married Harry R. Cox.  The family considered him to be a bit of a dandy and the marriage failed. Her father died in 1919 and both her brother Charles and her mother died the same month in 1921. As a divorced woman struggling to support herself as a spinner in a lace factory she was unable to care for her younger siblings. My father, Earl was 7-yrs-old and their sister, Margaretta was 10-yrs-old.  At first Earl was supposed to go to Girard College a school for orphaned boys but the family thought it better for both Earl and Margaretta to go to the Masonic orphan children’s home in Elizabethtown, PA.

On 2 August 1922 Caroline married Edward Dodd Ludlam. He was a widower with a young daughter, Helen. They wanted his daughter to live with them but his deceased wife’s parents were raising Helen and they refused to give her up. It ended up a legal fight but eventually Helen came to live with them. When Earl left the orphanage at 16-yrs-old he came to live with them too.

Most of her married life she lived in Gloucester City, NJ but at some point they lived in Hurfville, NJ. They had a chicken farm. When they moved to Gloucester City they continued to raise some chickens for the family. Another enterprise was breeding chow dogs.

In the 1920s they began to raise foster children. Over a thirty year time period she cared for over 20 children. Some were with her for just a few months and others for almost 20 years. Some thought she was too strict but they were properly dressed, had good food and had as normal a childhood as possible. Some became great adults. One, who came to her about age 5 from an extremely abusive home, was adopted by her and later became a criminal.

She was definitely a substitute mother to my father. He was close to her his whole life and when
I was born she became a grandmother to me. Ed died in 1948 and once more she found herself a widow. She bought a home that included a luncheonette which she ran. She continued to raise foster children. In 1957 she was diagnosed with cancer. In those days when your money or health insurance ran out hospitals sent you home to die. She moved into Earl’s home and all the extended family came to care for her. It was a crazy time with up to 20 relatives staying in the home to help around the clock. The day of her funeral there was a severe snowstorm where cars were not able to negotiate most streets. I was sent to my aunt’s house for that last week and when I returned home after her funeral I remember walking into her empty bedroom and feeling such a great loss.

Motherhood isn’t just giving birth. It’s a lifetime of care and love and Caroline showed this to almost two dozen children.

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