Between 1854-1929, more than 250,000 children were placed on “orphan trains” from the east coast and placed with unfamiliar adoptive families across America..
When they arrived at their new homes, some children joined kind and loving families, while others became indentured servants bound to hard labor. This was the largest mass migration of children ever to take place on American soil and our country’s first child welfare system.
Minnesota was the first state to set in motion a meeting of orphan train riders in 1960. Three women discovered they were orphans from New York and had traveled west by train to find new homes. The three ladies thought, “If there are three of us, how many more orphan train riders like us are there?”
Celebration of orphan train riders
All orphan train riders and their descendants are invited to join the Orphan Train Riders of New York – Minnesota Organization’s 61st Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, Oct. 2 in Little Falls, Minnesota.
The celebration is open to family, friends, interested persons and walk-ins. The cost is $30, and includes coffee, rolls, a roast beef dinner served by the St. Francis Center Sisters and a program of events.
The program features speaker and author Greg Markway. Markway is a psychologist and orphan train descendant who has been featured on the Today Show, on PBS and in The New York Times.
The day’s events also includes a performance by Adam Linquist. Linquist impersonates Theodore Roosevelt sharing his story as a young boy when he spent time with the orphan children of New York.
In the afternoon, orphan train rider descendants will have the opportunity to tell their rider’s story. Attendees may network with others to find out more.
The celebration will be held in the St Francis Center at 116 Eighth Avenue East in Little Falls, Minnesota, and will be held from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
The Orphan Train Riders of New York – Minnesota Organization supports, educates, and preserves the historical epoch of the orphan trains to share with groups of all ages.