From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
Baby Derby

March 24, 2002 8:44 AM

What people will do for money.

Charles Vance Millar died early Halloween morning in 1926. He was a Toronto lawyer with no family, and a practical joker who loved to poke fun at people's love of money. In his will, he left:

  • A significant portion of a racetrack to a judge and a preacher. Both were staunch opponents of gambling. Both accepted the gifts.
  • 1 share of a racetrack to every Christian cleric in Toronto. 91 accepted the gift, and a few lost their jobs as a result. The shares were worth half a penny.
  • 1 share of a brewing company to every Protestant preacher in Toronto.
  • $500,000 to the woman who had the most babies in 10 years. This is what became known as the Baby Derby.

The majority of the Baby Derby took place during the Great Depression. It was quite a sensation, with Newsweek publishing box scores and highlighting women who had twins or triplets.

There were even a few scandals. One woman was disqualified for having babies with a new man before the divorce to her old husband had been completed. Another was disqualified because she was unable to provide death certificates for several of her dead babies.

There ended up being 4 winners, each with 9 children. They split the money, each receiving $125,000. That's roughly $1.5 million in today's money, quite a prize, especially in the middle of the Great Depression.

In the end, the childless Millar ended up posthumously fathering 36 children.

More from the archive in Sociology.

Baby Derby (03.24.2002)

Next Entry: Upscale, Vaguely European Ambience (03.24.2002)
Previous Entry: US bought Afghan textbooks (03.23.2002)

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