The 4:25 p.m. Pacific Northwest....

departing Chicago....heading west..come ride with us

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Messages from the past....remember me...

As I read the comments about my last post,far off in the distance, I could hear the sounds of an old stream drawn train. The long lonesome whistle calls at the stations and crossings, the clicky-clack as those steel wheels inched their way West. I was amazed and moved by comments left regarding ancestors who rode the orphan train. Excellent factual information was provided and a link to a wonderful website that I'm adding to our sidebar. We, the little group participating in this orphan blocks challenge, know what our challenge is about. If there is ever blame to be placed, ...it is for me. I'm the one who called my quilt Riding the Orphan Train, and it was an 'honoring' of same when I did. A sharing of knowledge about those trains, and the stories of the children and the families they then created is a much bigger thing.
I wrote to Ann and asked permission to share her comments more publically. She graciously agreed and thanked me.
Ann said...
My grandmother, Marjorie Peterson, was an orphan train rider. She was indentured as a nanny by a family in MN at the age of 8. The family changed her name from Mary to Marjorie. In her middle years, Grandma wrote her autobiography, which my family knew, but it remained private until her death in 1991 (age 93). I made a quilt in Grandma's memory and use it when I read from her autobiography and tell her heartwarming story to audiences (including quilt guilds!) across the US. An article that I wrote about the orphan trains and her story was published in "Quilters Newsletter Magazine," Jan/Feb 2005. Read the article, see my "orphan train" quilt and learn more on my website at www.crocuslanequilts.com. My book "They Named Me Marjorie" was published in June 2006.

Interesting note: The term "orphan train" is somewhat misleading because Charles Loring Brace/Children's Aid Society and other placement agencies never used this term for their placements but rather The Home Finding Department or Emigration Department. Almost one-third of the children from the CAS may have been placed in New York and never rode a train. The Foundling Hospital sent out "baby" or "mercy" trains. The term orphan train may have been coined as recently as 1978 when CBS aired a miniseries called "The Orphan Trains." Nonetheless, the period from 1854 to 1929 (75 years!)and the adoption/indenture/foster care placement of an estimated 250,000 children was the most significant movement of children in the US and was the genesis of American adoption and foster care programs.

August 19, 2007 9:03 PM Ann's website is www.crocuslanequilts.com

Evelyn of Starfishy Quilting mentioned that Anne in Anne of Green Gables might have been an orphan train rider. From what I remember, Anne came from an orphanage, but I don't think she would have been on the train, as the story is set on Prince Edward Island. The Orphan Train was used in the United States.
Annie, of Little Orphan Annie, altho not an orphan train rider, could have been. The story is was set in the 1920's in New York City. The setting would have been a fairly typical orphanage. There are many examples of how little value these children had in society. One of the American Girl's stories...Samantha, is set about 1904 and deals with a girls orphanage. Again, the conditions are similar to the other stories. The Little Princess is another, And Cider House Rules comes to mind.

We don't have orphans as such, in America anymore. In the dictionary sense, a child is an orphan if there are no parents to claim and take responsibilty for the child. In today's world,it takes a bit of time,but a child left without parents becomes a ward of the State. This "ward-ship" stands(as parent)to the child until they are legally adopted, either by family members or someone who wants them. Three of my chlidren were surrendered to the State of Wisconsin. Two were surrendered to the ward-ship of a private agency.

2 comments:

Quilting Journey said...

Finn, You are the one who got this particular train on the tracks and up and rolling. Your own beautiful quilt not only inspired us, it made us want to join you on your journey. But it is truly you...you Finn, nee Sylvia...who informs us, encourages us, directs us, provides for us and gives us the sense of knowledge, by sharing with us such wonderful stories and information as you have now... with Ann and her grandmother, Marjorie nee Mary. This is truly a journey of honor and of transformation and I thank you, so very much, for sharing it with all of us.((hugs,hugs, hugs from Michele))

Carol E. said...

It is great to hear the true stories of the orphans and their lives... some very difficult, and some wonderful. They had to be strong and determined to get through what they faced... and we, their descendants,benefit from their strength. Ann spoke to my guild several years ago. I was amazed to hear her stories of her mother, Marjorie. If I remember correctly, Marjorie lived in a small town and attended the local Methodist church, of which my family has many ties... my grandfather was a minister there for a while, and then he and my grandmother retired in that small town. They may have known Marjorie, although Ann did not recognize the names.... still, I like to think that they did know each other. My grandmother was well liked, and perhaps she and Marjorie were friends! I am planning to buy Ann's book soon.

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