) ( ( ) Good Morning Family! ( \ .-.,--^--. ( Come on in. . . \* ) \\|`----'| - The coffee pot's on. . . .=|=. \| |// ...and we even have decaf, |~'~| | |/ tea, and hot chocolate! | | \ / _|___|_ ------ (_______) Today's topics include: 1. Welcome to new cousins 2. In Memory of The Riders, part III TO OUR NEWEST COUSINS ~~ On behalf of the entire family, I'd like to extend a most hearty welcome to those cousins who came into the family fold this past week. We are very glad to have you with us and hope you'll stay and remain a part of our online family. As soon as you're comfortable with us and the list, please send in your list-surname lines so we can all see how we're related to you. We do not have a fancy format for sending in records or queries to the list. Post as many as you wish! If the data has anything to do with our list-surname ancestors that might help someone, please feel free to post it. Every scrap of information is appreciated. You're welcome to share this Coffee with your genealogy friends and relatives. If they are not members of our online family and would like to begin receiving the Coffee, they are now able to. Simply have them send a blank email to <SundayCoffeeemail@example.com>. IN MEMORY OF THE RIDERS, Part III: GOODBYE, NEW YORK July, 1857 They'd been in the orphanage nearly three months now. Institution food was rather tasteless, but at least it was sustaining. His youngest sister's pneumonia had cleared up all right; however, she didn't run and play like she once did. Her energy levels just hadn't returned to their original, healthy state. He and his other two sisters though, were a different story. Free from constant worry for their safety and survival, the dark circles of exhaustion beneath the children's eyes had disappeared and their health was fully restored. The facility they were currently residing in was extremely crowded. Three hundred children were living in a space originally meant for 150. Our little band of siblings, along with two hundred others, wouldn't be there much longer though. They'd all been selected for relocation... The night before their day of departure, the children were told that they were going on the train. They were bathed, given new clothing, and their hair was tended to. Each child received a small suitcase with a Bible, two travel outfits and a set of dress clothes, but no shoes. He wondered if he and his sisters were being taken to their father. How wonderful that would be! [Most children thought that the train ride was an exciting adventure. Few understood what was happening. Once they did, their reactions ranged from delight at finding a new family to anger and resentment at being "placed out" when they had relatives back home. They lost all means of contacting their relatives. They were never to speak, or think of their birth families again. They were expected to totally start over with new families. Depending on their ages, the children would or wouldn't remember their old lives. The babies certainly would have no memories. The train ride lasted anywhere from days to weeks. When the placing-out programs were initiated, some of those first orphan trains were little better than cattle cars with seats and make-shift bathroom facilities. Later, as more money became available, the riders were able to ride in better cars. The last riders were able to ride in sleeping cars (Pullmans).] Handbills heralded the distribution of cargoes of needy children: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ WANTED HOMES FOR CHILDREN A company of homeless children from the East will arrive on FRIDAY, AUGUST 21st, 1857 These children are of various ages and of both sexes, having been thrown friendless upon the world. They come under the auspices of the Children's Aid Society of New York. They are well disciplined, having come from the various orphanages. The citizens of this community are asked to assist the agent in finding good homes for them. Persons taking these children must be recommended by the local committee. They must treat the children in every way as a member of the family, sending them to school, church, Sabbath school and properly clothe them until they are 17 years old. Come and see the children and hear the address. Distribution will take place at the Opera House, Friday, August 21, at 1:30 p.m. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ [The trains pulled into towns and the children disembarked to be led to the local opera house, the town hall, or the local church. There, they were paraded on a stage or platform before the crowd of onlookers. Usually, a local town committee had been at work prior to the arrival of the train, trying to line up good potential families for the expected children. At this time, members of the community would be allowed to visit with and inspect the children. If a match-up was made between adult and child, and the local committee and placing agents were in agreement, then the child would leave the group and go on to his/her new home.] A lot of the children, including our family of siblings, didn't know what to think! New parents? New families? He gathered his sisters around him. They clung to one another fiercely. "Stand up straight, all of you!" the agent scolded as she wrenched the four apart. The two eldest girls began crying. "I need a good farm hand," a scruffy-looking man said. He reached over and felt for the muscle on the arm of the 14-year old boy standing two children down from him in the line. "Open your mouth, boy!" With his dirty hands the old man began examining the boy's teeth. The boy wasn't frightened, but he was angry. He bit the farmer's hand. The farmer backhanded the boy to the ground. That placing wasn't going to happen. An old man with a white beard approached the eldest of his younger sisters and pointed a bony finger at her. "I'll take that one!" he boomed. "My wife is sick, and I need someone to keep house, cook, and wash the dishes." The agent standing behind his sister pushed her forward from the line toward the man. Within minutes, she would become his ward. Some of the children sang or danced trying to attract the attention of new mothers and fathers. Sometimes the ploy worked. A woman stood before his youngest sister. "I'll take her. She looks just like my Elizabeth before she died. We'll give her a good home." She took the 2-year old's hand and walked away. He and the second of his three sisters had only each other now. Both of them felt the pain of broken hearts. Requisite forms were completed, then the families were free to take the children home. At the end of the viewing, those children not chosen today were walked back to the train; he was among them. The next town was waiting for their opportunity. He and his sister watched from the window of the train, tearfully attempting to get just one more glimpse of their two sisters. Two towns and three days later, his third sister was placed. A well-dressed man and woman approached the line. "We need a girl to help tend our young'uns. We'll take good care o' ya." She had no choice but to go with them. More forms were completed and the last of his siblings was removed from his life. He was alone now. [Placement into new families was casual at best. While a local committee attempted to ensure that new parents were fit raise children, it really was not much of a background investigation compared to today. Officials knew that placing out was imperfect and did what they could to screen inappropriate families. Sadly, a rather large number of foster parents saw the children as nothing more than a source of cheap labor. Often brothers and sisters were separated by the fostering process, sometimes never to see each other again. If brothers and sisters were lucky, they were taken by families in the same area so they could visit. If they were not lucky, brother, or sister, would get back on the train without them and go many miles further down the track. It was not uncommon for brothers and sisters to lose track of each other completely. Despite problems, the system provided the best chance for many children. While separating siblings (like was usually the case) was not the best idea in the world, it was much better than leaving them to their fates on the streets. On the farms and in towns there was room, food, parents, and safety. There was a chance to go to school. They could grow up and become someone of which America could be proud. Many of these children obtained loving homes and parents.] He spent another week on the train which left a small part of its cargo at each stop until finally all of the agent's charges found homes. At this point, the number of remaining children was just a quarter of what it was when they'd started this trip. He'd begun to think nobody wanted him. A woman stood before him and spoke to the agent. "I want that boy because he has his hair combed. I'm sure he is a good little boy. He doesn't appear half so rough as the rest." She filled out the requisite paperwork and took him home. It turned out that she was a gentle woman who'd wanted a son; nothing more. He matured through his teen years with love and caring. He could only hope the same for his sisters. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ It wasn't until he'd reached his 30's that he saw the middle of the three sisters again. Luckily he'd been able to make contact with the her during his early 20's. When she reached adulthood, his sister began searching for the other two siblings. They found the eldest of the three girls, now married with two children of her own! A twelve-year search failed to locate the youngest of the siblings. They did manage to find out that her name had been changed by her foster parents. And so it went with many of the children ~ never seeing family again; never knowing their former lives. The trains ran for 75 years with the last one pulling into Trenton, Missouri in 1929. Any orphan train riders still living today would be at least 85 years old or older. The Orphan Trains were needed at the time they happened. They were not the best answer, but they were the first attempts at finding a practical system. Many children that might have died, lived to have children and grandchildren. Over two million people today are descendants of these former children. The trains gave them a fighting chance to grow up. ~FINIS~ Next week: Notes, Trivia, Recommended Reading. Family ... it's what we're all about. I so enjoyed spending this time with you today. Thank you for sharing it with me. I wish each of you a week filled with health, productivity, fun, and above all, filled with love and inner peace. ) ( ) _.-~~-. (@\'--'/. Colleen ('``.__.'`) `..____.'