Love the Lord your God, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him, for the Lord is your life! Deut. 30:20

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tea and orphan train

My Wednesday morning Bible study ladies decided that we would do a trip to Concordia sometime this summer. It was hard to coordinate a time for all of us to go (and about half were not able to come), but this week 6 of us piled into a van (thanks Jill and Adam!) and drove up 81 to this quaint town.

Our first stop was for lunch at this place:

They had an assortment of hats for everyone to wear.

A wonderful luncheon for some very wonderful ladies!

Who could resist dessert??!!

After lunch, we drove a couple blocks north to the Orphan Train Museum.

Back in the mid 1800's to 1900's, there were a lot of immigrants who flooded America. Many of these immigrants were being housed in cramped tenement housing. There could be 20 family members in a one bedroom apartment.

Disease was rampant. Many children were left orphaned by either one or both parents. Children had the run of the streets.

There were many institutions that took in children. Some children were left on doorsteps of orphanges. Or a single parent might drop off a child, hoping that in the future they could provide for their child(ren) again.

Can you imagine all these imigrants who came to America, thinking their lives would be so wonderful and to be faced with this?

In 1854 the Children's Aid Society and other institutions began a program along with the railroad companies to place children in homes out west. This program was called the Orphan Train.

Depending on the number of available seats and the number of children ready to be placed out, the Children's Aid Society agents would plan the distributions and advertise in local newspapers and with posters.

CAS agents (Miss Hill) with children

Families would come to the train stations and pick out the child(ren) they wanted. Often siblings were separated.

Adoption was not required and once placed, the CAS retained control of the child's welfare and could remove a child from a home if the situation was unsatisfactory. Local agents checked on the children once a year to file a progress report.

From 1854 to 1910, the New York Children's Aid Society had taken 106,245 children to 47 states, as well as Canada and the Indian Territory. It ended in 1929. As high as 205,000 were probably placed between all the institutions involved in the Orphan Train program.

We began our trip to Concordia all laughing and "cackling like a bunch of chickens" but throughout the museum, we were quiet, all somberly reading the many stories of the children who were orphaned. Some had happy stories, but many were very hard.

It was interesting to read that the descendants of these children have reunions to share the stories.

A verse that comes to mind is from Acts 17:25-26 -

Acts 17:26-27
From one man He made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us.


Amy said...

This looks like such a neat trip, Debby! I love the hats!

The drive-in is in Wichita. You get off on on Hydraulic and go 3 blocks to the left. This was our first time going. We really had fun!

Jenny Sullivan said...

Concordia is my hometown. We've had so much fun taking our girls there and getting great tea party pictures of them. In fact my mom was headed there today to celebrate a birthday for my 91 year old great aunt. The oprhan train place was eye opening. My grandpa built all of the display cases there so we went to see his handiwork and were shocked to read all of the stories. It was also interesting to hear my grandparents talk about the people they knew in Concordia that had arrived on the orphan train. Glad you enjoyed your trip!

Rich and Carolyn Dewey said...

Thanks for driving. What a great day we had together! Think we should do it again!