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Tuesday, February 15th, 2011 05:58 pm
At the time I began trying to find Happy Heim for my uncle, I had already seen PBS' American Experience documentary called The Orphan Trains.

At the time I watched the PBS broadcast, I wondered if I would ever encounter someone in my family tree who rode an Orphan Train.

Now, I'm waiting to see who the next one will be.


There's a lot of information on the internet about Orphan Trains. Personally, from my own research, I think the Wiki article is the least accurate, because Arkansas is hardly the midwest United States.

The National Orphan Train Complex is an excellent resource.


Happy Heim rode an Orphan Train to Arkansas in 1904.

But the trains kept coming to Arkansas, even as late as 1912.

In a series of news articles in 1912 issues of the Springdale News, outreach was conducted to get families to show up and meet the trains.

Friday, February 9, 1912...
Homes for nine orphan children brought to Rogers Friday by agents of the Childrens Aid Society of New York were found so quickly and there were so many applicants disappointed that another company of the little folks was arranged for by telegram that night and will arrive here by next Friday...Hundreds of people visited the hotel during the morning to see the children who stood the embarrassing ordeal much better than could be expected...

I've seen quite a few statements on the internet that say it's largely a myth that siblings were split up.

But that's not what shows up in the Springdale News.

From that same February 9 issue...
...[T]he children were placed as follows:
Agnes Margurite Kamm, 12 years - Mrs. and Mrs. E W Homan.
Marion Haines, 9 years - Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Puckett.
Margaret Haines, 7 years - Mr. and Mrs. J S Elder.
Wilbur Pruden, 10 and Marion Pruden, 9 - R H Thomas and wife on White River at Eden's Bluff.
Chester and Emmett Pruden, twins, 4 years - C P Hummell and wife, of Monte Ne.
Walter Bewley, 9 years and Frank Bewley, 8 years - J W Clack and wife, north of Rogers on Elk Horn Poultry Ranch.


This one just broke my heart...
Springdale News, Friday 7 Jun 1912...

Photobucket


The children brought to Springdale were placed as follows:
Madilene Mischlen, 12 years old, H Quandt, city.
Elizabeth Mischlen, 11 years old, J B Stokes, souhtwest (sic) of town.
Barbara Mischlen, 10 years old, J A Joyce, city.
Adam Mischlen, 7 years old, J L Davis, Wheeler.
John Mischlen, 5 years old, Ed Brant, souhtwest (sic) of town.
George Schlesser, 5 years old, John Anderson, city.
Joseph Marr, 17 months old, Rev. A L Cline, city.
Margaret Lovas, 8 years old, W H Kelso, city.
Henry Knuth, 15 years old, Ed Brant, southwest of town.
Addie Knuth, 11 years old, H P Church, northwest of town.
Roy Knuth, 9 years old, J R Langridge, Spring Valley.
Charles Salverson, 13 years old, Carrie Salverson, 8 years old, J P Moore, Springdale.


I wondered why Mr. Ed Brant didn't take siblings for his two choices.

And then I wondered if Happy Heim lost one or more siblings with his "placement."


Other resources for information about Orphan Trains, including stories of and information about the children who rode the trains:
Nebraska's website
Kansas' website
Missouri's website
Wisconsin's GenWeb Orphan Train website
The Adoption History Project
The Children's Aid Society
(Anonymous)
Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 02:26 am (UTC)
Didn't his house burn down later in his life in Illinois or Indiana? If he had any family information it is probably lost to history now. He did pretty good in life considering how sad and lonely it must have been a lot of the time. Good post.

B
Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 02:50 am (UTC)
A friend's mom rode one of the later trains, in the late 1920s, and was adopted by a Kansas family.

It really is tragic that they split up siblings. I hope the poor kids were at least allowed to stay in touch with one another!
Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 03:08 am (UTC)
Yes, his house burned and he was injured in the fire.

As I understood it from the story on him in the book, he had never wanted anything about his birth parents from his file, but the stuff he had gotten on himself was destroyed in the house fire.
Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 03:11 am (UTC)
The stories various kids told are all over the map. Some said they had homes they could never even have dreamed of - that they were welcomed with open arms. Some talked of abuse and some ran away...

I don't know what happened to the kids in these news articles. I wanted to get their names transcribed, along with the names and locations of the adoptive parents, in case someone is looking for them, and Google searches would be able to find this post.
Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 03:09 pm (UTC)
Good plan. I hope it helps somebody.

My friend's mom was lucky --- she was taken in by a good, loving family whose ramified branches still call her their own long after her adoptive parents have died. But I know some of the kids found hell on earth.
(Anonymous)
Thursday, February 17th, 2011 01:44 am (UTC)
I haven't run into one of these in my tree yet, but I think that it's so heartbreaking that they didn't keep the siblings together. I wonder if they grew up with strong relationships with one another eve though they were in different families. I hope that their adoptive parents made an effort to let them visit often. Jennifer www.ClimbingMyFamilyTree.com