Back Row: Harold Williams, Joseph Sovada
Front Row: Sister Justina Bieganek, Mary Bundy, Sophia
Kral,Irvin Dobis, Helen Schmainda
|ORPHAN TRAIN RIDERS OF NEW YORK (MIDWEST)
During the 1800's, the streets of New York were teeming with homeless children. Some of the causes were
immigration, the Civil War, and poverty. Something needed to be done to find homes for these children.
In 1853, a Protestant Minister, Mr. Charles Loring Brace, started the Children's Aid Society. By 1854, he started
sending children by train to other states in order to provide them with good homes and a better life. The trains
entered towns and the children,( of all ages), were put on display. They were picked over by the townspeople and
chosen to go with families. Some were mainly wanted for labor. Others were to become real family members, they
had good homes. Any child not chosen after the train visited the last town were returned to New York.
Other institutions like the New York Foundling Hospital followed the example of the Children's Aid Society. However,
the New York Foundling Hospital handled their placements a little differently. Most of the children The Foundling
Hospital housed were toddlers and babies. The Foundling Hospital worked through Catholic Churches in the
towns and placed the children before taking them by train to their new home. Foster parents placed their orders for
children as you would order an article of clothing through a catalog. "I would like a female child with blue eyes and
blond hair." And the sisters at the Foundling Hospital would do their best to fill the order. The orphan trains
continued for 75 years from 1854 to 1929.
Of these children from New York, it is estimated that 3500 to 4000 came to Minnesota and were placed with
Today, there are not many of these orphans still living. The ones remaining are in their 70's to 90's. However,
these orphan train riders have many descendants that populate the state.
|Front Row 2nd from left Marie Lenzmeier 3rd from Left - Mary Buscher
Back Row 3rd from Left- Carmella Keaveny
|ORPHAN TRAIN REUNION YEAR ?????
Marie Lenzmeier and her son Bob at the 1966
Orphan Train Reunion in Sleepy Eye, MN
Top row - left to right - Rev Paul Fangman, Sylvia Wemhoff, Jerome Keenan, Paul Luex, Joe Gannonm, Marie Tucker, Gerald Curren, Charles Gordon, Frank
Krueger, Ed Sayker, Florence Demuth, Hilda Adamy, Mrs. SM Kossemeir, Francis Smith
Second row - left to right - Sr Thomasina, Sr. Catherine, Anna Mohr, Marjorie Barry, Esther Wortman, Mrs. Frank Siegel, Mary Ann Johnson, Sarah Chesley,
Antonette Weiler, Bobbie Sullivan, Dorothy Deblauw, Charles Deermer, Philomena Wailes, Thomas Sherlock, Alex Long, Howard Waltman, Monsignor
Third row - left to right - Catherine Henkenius, Mrs. Ray Harrahill, Thelma Leif, John Bachman, Mrs Charles Mann, Mary Tenopir, Sr Julitta, Catherine
Tichota, Pauline Ellis, Mary Buscher, Wm Bennett, Monica Kaiser, Alfred Henrickson.
Bottom row - left to right - Loretta Jackson, Steve Gallagher, Jerry Cordes, Mary Callihan, Albert Moore, Marie Lenzmeier, Marie Kingdon, Al Sommers, Martin
Kappius, Florence Jacobson, Florence Kocian
Orphan Train Riders Group Picture (year unknown)
One of the very 1st Orphan Train Reunions in Wahpeton, ND
Miriam C Kuklock November 3, 1914-March 15, 1996 Orphan Train RIder, June 30, 1917
Miriam was found on the steps of St Patrick's Cathedral by a policeman, who brought her to the New York Foundling Hospital. There was NO IDENTIFICATION on her frail,
malnourished body or the basket she was found in. Upon medical examination, she appeared to be about 21 days old, so November 3, 1914 was determined to be her birthdate.
The name MIRIAM CHASE was also assigned to her. She spent the next couple of years in the orphanage. Naturally, she had no memory of that period of her life.. Her adoptive
parents, Jim and Florence Kuklock of Alpha, MN (population abt 100), heard of the NYFH plea for foster parents through an announcement at their parish church, St Wenceslaus in
Jackson, MN (about 6 miles from Alpha.) The Kuklocks were childless, so they eagerly applied. Their pastor approved them as being "suitable" candidates. They "ordered" an
infant girl with brown hair and blue eyes, and received their 2 1/2 yr old daughter on June 30, 1917. Man curious Alpha friends and neighbors turned out at the train station to
witness Miriam's arrival. Among the folks in Alpha, Miriam's origins were no secret. Miriam recalled only a few incidents of being teased by grade school classmates who called
her "Orphan Annie". She confided to her mother, Florence, that this hurt her feelings and made her cry. Florence told her "Don't ever doubt your real parents love for you or think
badly of them. They must have agonized (over having to make that decision to give you up) - more than you will ever know. Unlike your friends, "YOU WERE CHOSEN" to be our
daughter, but we love you as if you were our very own flesh and blood! That satisfied her. She believed that, since she was left at a church where she could be easily found, her
bio-parents made this difficult decision for her own good!
Miriam never mentioned being "indentured", but most likely was. Looking back on her childhood, it was filled mostly with fond memories of her friends and their small tow
adventures many of whom remained close for the rest of her life. By Miriams own account she was not a very servious student, but completed grade and high school. At 18,
Miriam signed her own adoption papers. She met her future husband Elmer Fandel at a dance. They were married August 16, 1937 and had 3 children. Miriam's mother Florence
died at 56 years in 1944. Her father re-married and out-lived 2 wonderful step-mothers to Miriam. At retirement age, the Fandels moved to Colorado Springs, CO to be near their
son, about that time Elmer's health declined and he died in 1977 at 64 years. Miriam then married a recently widowed friend of theirs, Nels Waldstein. They were married for 9
years until he passed away. Miriam died at 81 years in 1996 from spinal chordoma (benign tumor) She is survived by her children, 3 grandchildren, 6 great-grandchildren.
This was Miriam's introduction to most of her new family. She is seated on her maternal
grandfather, William E Carr's lap. Miriams adoptive parents are on the top far left, Florence,
"Flossie" (Carr) and Jim Kuklock, her paternal grandparents Johann & Johanna, center
front row as well as aunts, uncles and cousins.
|Miriam & Elmer
August 16, 1937