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The Orphan Train Experience In 1854, the Orphan Train started to take children to the West from the northeastern states. Charles Loring Brace started these trains. It started because there were many over-crowed cities in the northeastern areas and Mr. Brace didn’t like the conditions that these so called “street“ children lived in. The Orphan Train is a series of trains that took the homeless or the poor, needy children to the west. Many of these children on the orphan train lost a parent, (or lost both parents), lived on the streets, or were given-up by parents because they could not provide for the well –being of the child. Some were also abandoned by their families, some were removed from abusive homes, or some came from street gangs. Also, many of the children were infants all the way up to age 15. Read more about the orphans in the following articles. By Adarsh THE TOPEKA times WHATEVER PLACE, WE’RE ON THE CASE - Since 1802
A TRAIN RIDE TO A BETTER LIFE by: Haseeb I think the orphan trains were a good idea. I think it was a good idea because most of the time, the people who adopted the orphans would treat them like their own children. They were given a good home, an education, and food. They were also loved by their adoptive parents. They would be cared for if they were sick, and they would be taught what was right when they did something wrong. They were taught valuable life skills that they would need when they were older. If the family already had children, then the adopted child had someone to play with. THE TOPEKA times WHATEVER PLACE, WE’RE ON THE CASE - Since 1802 If children were ripped away from their parents, then it would be hard for them, but the new parents would help them understand why their parents “abandoned” them. If the children were orphans with no family, then the children would probably be ecstatic to be adopted and finally have clothes, food, and a safe shelter. Also, some orphans were mistreated before the adoption, so they didn’t have to be scared of being harmed by a family that loved them and wanted to help them.
THE TOPEKA times WHATEVER PLACE, WE’RE ON THE CASE - Since 1802 Some were sent on this train for health, safety, and food. Some were also sent on this train because they were not taken at orphan shelters, so they where given a chance to be adopted. Sometimes, they were not sent to the best homes and they were sometimes not treated like royalty and not treated like a family member. They were also sometimes just adopted for help around the barn and treated like slaves. These are the reasons the Orphan Train was a bad idea. THE TRAIN FOR MORE PAIN by: Julie a I think the Orphan Train was a bad idea because the children had no choices and no way of knowing what was going to happen to them and their parents. You would sometimes think someone who went on the Orphan Train would be an orphan, well that’s the problem! People who went on the orphan train were not all orphans. This is a picture that shows the children are unhappy with the adoptive parent.
Dear Abby I’ve just moved to Kansas. I am thankful for Mr. Charles Loring Brace, but I miss my mother and my three brothers. My mother cannot take care of all four of us in our stuffy tenement in New York City. I also didn’t have an education. Now I am an only child living on the prairie with Mr. and Mrs. Winchell. They are treating me very kindly. At school, children are calling me poor and say that I shouldn’t miss my mom because she is the one that brought it on me. That only makes me miss her more. Now I feel as if she abandoned me and my brothers. How do I get rid of these feelings? Sincerely, Anonymous Dear Anonymous, One way to get rid of the feeling of being abandoned is to write to your mother and ask her to come and visit you. Also, occupy your mind with happier thoughts and ignore the other children. Tell them why your mother sent you away, so they can at least leave you alone. Don’t feel abandoned because now you have a better life - parents, future, and all. So, I advise you to look at every night as a gift and that your mother sent you for your safety. Sincerely, Abby By Rovita THE TOPEKA times WHATEVER PLACE, WE’RE ON THE CASE - Since 1802
Interviewer: TTT Reporter Lexi Interviewee: Jacob Heath Lexi : Hello, Mr. Jacob Heath. How are you today? Heath: Fine, thank you. Lexi: I’m interviewing you today because I heard you recently got adopted. How does it feel to be in a new family? Heath: I feel it’s a great experience learning how to work and live in a real family. I love it! Lexi: Interesting. Some other people I’ve interviewed do not feel the same way as you do. Don’t you miss your other parents and siblings? Heath: Of course I miss my father! And my sisters who were just angels! My mother died of dysentery when I was 2 years old, so I don’t know what she was like or how she looked, and sadly I can’t miss her anymore. My family would want me to suck it up and have a good life. Lexi: It’s okay, Mr. Heath, it’s okay! Would you mind more questions? Heath: Of course not, it’s fine. That’s what we’re here for. Lexi: Do you blame anyone for sending you on the Orphan Train? Heath: Oh no! I don’t blame anyone, in fact, I’m glad I went on the Orphan Train. It was a wonderful experience. Lexi: Fascinating. Who sent you on the Orphan Train? Heath: Well, as you know, I have a father, no mother. When I was a shoe-shiner, I went wanderin’ one day. Somebody saw me wanderin’ and reported me to the police. It was all a misunderstanding, but my father came and the police accused him of illegal child labor, so the police sent for Mr. Brace. He got me and my sisters on the next train, and now here we are, in Kansas! Lexi: Did you enjoy the ride? Heath: There were a couple of problems, but I think it’s one of the best things that ever happened to me. Lexi: That’s great. Thanks for the interview! THE TOPEKA times WHATEVER PLACE, WE’RE ON THE CASE - Since 1802
THE TOPEKA times WHATEVER PLACE, WE’RE ON THE CASE - Since 1802 Resources The orphan trains Mary Brennan INN Children’s Aid Society New York Foundling hospital Orphan Train History
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