Saturday, February 05, 2011

Sepia Saturday ~ Thomas and Annie Kenrick

Circa 1940: Fort Williams Canada

As a little girl looking through my dads old photo Album this photo would always catch my eye. Was it the Stern look on both of their faces or that they reminded me of the painting "American Gothic" By Grant Wood? What ever the reason was it prompted me to ask my dad about these two serious looking people he had kept a picture of. Dad didn't like to talk about his childhood much but I managed to get him to tell me that the people in the photo were perhaps the only adults from his childhood that showed him love and what a home was, their names were Thomas and Annie Kenrick of Fort Williams Canada, and they were his foster parents.

That was all dad ever told me about them, other then he loved them like a mother and father. It wasn't till I was an adult that I got dad to call the Children's Aid Society of Canada in hopes of learning more about my dad and who his birth parents were that they sent us his records. From the 5 pages they were able to share with us I learned his adoption had been finalized in January of 1933, 3 yrs after the death of his adoptive mother and the same year he had been made a ward of the court. From the age of 6 to 13 bounced from foster homes and Orphanages till 1940 when they placed him in the home of the Kenrick's were he remained till he was 17. I cant read the records without crying but they helped me to understand why my father never talked about his childhood, nor can I help but think it was because of the love my dad was given by the Kenrick's and others later in his life that he was able to become such a loving and caring man.

A few months ago I located the Great Granddaughter of Thomas and Annie Kenrick on and was able to share the above photo with her.


  1. One of the things I've learned since joining Sepia Saturday is the amazing amount of detail people know about their family and how little I know about mine. The information you have found about Thomas and Annie shows what can be done and how they must have shaped the live of your father.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  2. a moving story, perhaps because my own father was also adopted, and me, growing up and seeing my dad stuck with questions but never finding any answers. as far as what damages it can do to a person's identity, i've seen it first hand.

    you made me laugh with the analogy to "american gothic", and i was looking in the shadows to see if there wasn't a fork leaning somewhere... nope!! no fork!! but as you can see, appearances can be deceiving. even if they looked stern, they gave a sense of love to your father, a stranger to them, but a stranger in need. i find that most commendable from these folks. glad to hear you were able to reach one of their descendants.
    thanx 4 sharing this!!

  3. Thank you Bob, I'm always in awe of the information others have about their families and the old photos they have had passed down to them.Its never to late to start asking and if you are like me with little or no family them its
    never to late to start digging :) I think sometimes the having to dig and break down the brick walls is the most rewarding part of the journey.

  4. Thank you Tickle, I think adoption leaves not only the adoptee with so many questions but also their own children. I grew up always looking at older people searching faces to see if they looked like my dad or myself. The need for a connection and identity is so strong.
    I was able to find the names of my dads birth parents last year and it breaks my heart knowing my father will never share my joy....while he is still living he is in the final stages of Alzheimer's, I can only imagine him doing his famous " Fred Sanford" heart attack when I told him he was not Native American as he was told, while he was left on a reservation he is Polish and his name is Sivinski.

  5. What a poignant, tender story. The love you have for your father is palpable. This photo does indeed contain shades of American Gothic. It doesn't reveal the kindness this couple obviously must have had ... salt of the earth people who make a difference with caring actions. Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing such a personal piece of yourself.

  6. my father is not dealing with alzheimer but another kind of dementia. at 84, what else can you expect?
    should i look into it?
    i don't know...

  7. I'm glad you were able to find some answers. I don't think the couple looks stern. More calm, sun in their faces. I'm glad your father found a good home.

  8. That is a great story Tracie - and it accompanies a fabulous picture. One you mentioned the "American Gothic" connection, I immediately saw it too, there is something about the pose and the way they avoid putting on any kind of front when they face the outside world. It's "what you see is what you get" and sometimes that is just what you need in a person.

  9. Very sad and yet uplifting. And a very nice memorial to this fine couple.

  10. What a touching story. They may have come into his life relatively late, but not too late to make a difference.

  11. I think they were use to have their pictures taken and it must have been serious business. Enjoyed your post. I thing the story of your dad is sad but was so common back then.