If you know me,then you know that's a normal 'way' of being in the world for me. I have many words inside my head, it takes time for them all to surface. Not all can be shared, but these can and should be. THIS IS MY QUILT. It is not a kit, a pattern nor remotely a copy of anyone elses work. I don't 'why' it came to be, but I know why I called it "Orphan Train, Heading West". I don't think my quilt is remarkable,nor even especially noteworthy. It is deeply, deeply personal. Much more than just using the leftovers.
"The Orphan Train, Heading West" is my personal creation. The odd, unwanted, extra "stuff" is not so different from thousands of children rounded up in New York City, Washington DC, Chicago and other large cities, and sent west. They were placed on a train that stopped in many of the small towns along the way.
The town folks gathered on railroad platforms or in churches, to see if there was a child that they could/would take "home". This is NOT fiction, nor a story, the Orphan Train traveled back and forth, from the late 1850's, until the 1930's, removing orphaned and unwanted children from city streets. The street kids were a by-product of the huge immigration(to America)from Eurpose. Immigrant parents found this wasn't a land where streets were lined with gold after all. Many children were forced out of the homes and onto the streets as the family size grew.It was sink or swim, take care of yourself or perish. As a human being, I have strong feelings about this, and being an adoptive parent doubles those feelings. Unwanted children.
There are thousands of websites about aspects of The Orphan Trains. Many are on a "state by state" basis. There are actual records of children who rode those trains, and sometimes interviews with them as adults. You know that someone who rode in the 1920's or 1930's could very well be alive yet today. There was just ONE Orphan Train. Many actual engines and cars were used over those 70 years, but the 'concept' belong to Rev. Charles Brace who founded the Children's Aid Society. Other orphanages were involved in placement and in gathering children to be cleaned up, fed and sent west. Children were "gathered in", taken care of in orphanages and "held" until there were enough to fill the train. Several sponsors were needed to ride west and supervise the children along the way. They were also the 'records' keepers from town to town.
I don't want anyone who reads this blog, to TRIVIALIZE,in any way, the very seriousiness of The Orphan Train. Nor the aspect of what was decided for these children by our society. I believe, that like adoption today, it's the "least worst" solution to the circumstances. In the wealth of our nation today, it's easy to become immune to the faces and needs of the less fortunate. Easy to let "someone else" take care of it. I'm endorsing the gathering up and gentle using of the quilt blocks we find just 'littering' our boxes and baskets. The 'moving' them into a more suitable and useful setting, but NOT FOR A MOMENT, do I forget that the Orphan Train of history was a REAL DEAL.
We'd have to make alot of quilts to come close to the 150,000 to 200,000 children that were moved across America in those 70+ years.This last picture if a map of the USA, of course. The lines indicate the routes of and cities included in the gathering, carrying and moving of those children.
I spent much time reading, the past night or two, at Orphan Train web sites. I noticed that Minnesota(my neighbor) took in over 3,000 of these children. Wisconsin took 2,000 plus. Oregon took 19. Poplulation and farming seemed to play a role in how many found home in a particular state.The children ranged from infant to young adult.
Many of the websites EMPHASIZE that these children were only 'half' orphan..that they had parents in many cases who couldn't care for them. I don't thinka definition of actual status is the point. I believe you can be a 'motherless child' while having a living mother, and you can be an orphan in the sense that you are unwanted, or found to be 'wanting' in some way. My quilt blocks are orphans in their unsuitable, not beautiful enough, imperfect ways.....but every one of them has a use.