Fearless Females (Day 13): A Mother’s Resolve

PLEASE NOTE: There is no post for Fearless Females (Day 12) SUBJ: Working girls


I share this from my special collection of Old Girls: Bethia, my 3x paternal great-grandmother.

Unfortunately, very little is known about her prior to her arrival in Upper Canada in the very early 1830s (if not sooner).

Bethia KIDD was born in England [Circa 1815] to Richard KIDD and Jane SOLTON. When she came to Upper Canada in the early 1830s with her parents and siblings, they homesteaded in Etobicoke Township, York County, located in what would later be known as the province of Ontario.

1837: married Thomas, son of John ATKINSON and the former Elizabeth HODGSON, all of them originally from Kirkby Stephen, Westmorland, England. They homestaded not far from the KIDDs upon the south fifty acres of Lot 37, Concession 3, Etobicoke Township, York County.

1838JA04: birth of son, Robert (named after Thomas’ younger brother, who had died in 1833 from Cholera)
Robert married (circa 1864) Mary Jane CAVE and had two sons and two daughters. Both boys died in infancy. Only one daughter married, but her union was childless.

1839AP09: birth of son, William
William married (1865FB10) Elizabeth EDMONGSON (daughter of John & Mary Ann EDMONDSON). They had seven sons and six daughters.

1840DC21: birth of son, Thomas (named after Bethia’s husband)
Thomas married (c.1869) Sarah Ann CAWARD (daughter of John CAWARD & Mary JOPSON).  They had seven sons and two daughters.  Their eighth child was my great-grandfather, James Walker (J.W.) ATKINSON.

1842DC30: birth of daughter, Jane (named after Bethia’s mother)
Jane died in JAN1843

1844JA19: birth of son, John (named after Thomas’ father)
John married (1872MR14) Mary Jane KELLAM, who died five days after the birth of their son, William John in 1873. William John, died three months two days later. John then re-married (1874MY27) Eliz Jane BURGESS and had seven sons and three daughters.

1845NV29: birth of daughter, Elizabeth* Bethia (*named after Thomas’ mother)
Elizabeth married (bef.1868) George TREADGOLD of Northamptonshire, England. They had three sons and six daughters

1848DC19: birth of daughter, Mary Jane
Mary Jane married (bef.18874) James FARDING and had five sons and three daughters.

1850JA01: birth of daughter, Martha
Martha married (bef.1871) James JOHNSTON and had four sons and three daughters.

1852FB02: birth of daughter, Hannah Elizabeth
Hannah married (1878JU26) Hector MacDONALD. They had two sons and two daughters.

1854JU24: birth of daughter, Bethia (named after Thomas’ wife)
Daughter, Bethia died 10JUN1857

1856AU22: birth of twins; son, Richard and daughter, Alice
Richard married (1883FB13) Catherine KENNEDY and had three sons and three daughters.
Alice married (1880MR10) John Edison MAW and had five sons and four daughters.

1859JA22: birth of son, Solomon George
Solomon married (1885JA28) Isabella Catherine SHEARDOWN and had four sons and five daughters.

JUN1868: birth of daughter, Rachel
Rachel married (bef.1891) William Major SHARP and had four sons and two daughters.

Yes, 14 children! This Old Girl deserved a medal for single-handedly outpopulating the French colonists.

My question: Is there a woman today, or in the last fifty years for that matter, willing to go through all that?

I didn’t think so.

[Don’t feel bad, I do not see too many men in a hurry to volunteer either.].



  1. What a cornucopia of sons and daughters! The Old Girl did deserve a medal, and so did her husband! Can you imagine that household?

    I’ve often wondered what all the reasons were for such big families. I know the mortality rates for infants and young people were much higher then. For my grandfather and uncle, one more reason was “hands” to work on the farm — 7 children for one, 8 for the other.

    And my maternal great-grandmother, like your 3 x paternal g grandmother, had 14 children also. Nine boys and 5 girls. And this was during American slavery, when her husband owned about as many slaves as they had children. Same on the other side of my family.

    Whatever the reason, they had children “to spare.” Family lore says that the older ones helped take care of the younger ones. But that must have gone only so far. The mother’s entire life must have been her children.


  2. I lost a friend who came from a family of 14 with mother and father in the house. They made own soap and whoever didn’t come in for dinner on time lost out. What was amazing was that this family span 2 generations. Children in the family went to school with my mother and then the younger ones went to school with me. It seemed like fun except when you spoke to the eldest child and asked their experience. Running that household was not easier. Your fearless female deserves a medal.


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