ORPHAN TRAIN RIDERS OF NEW YORK (MIDWEST)
NEWS - 4-
"Over 2448 children
came to Minnesota
from the Children's Aid
Society, NY, between
the years 1853 and
1910,alone." During
those years, "the whole
East Coast was
swarming with
immigrants, destitution.
Many of these people
may feel they were
illegitimate, but not
have been so."


Daily Journal, Fergus Falls, MN
December 8, 1989
Mary Buscher Keeps alive memories of the
thousands sent west.
By Peg Kalar
Staff Write







Remember the Orphan Trains
BRECKENRIDGE - Mary Buscher figures she was on the luck ones:  Unlike many of New York City's abandoned babies, she wasn't simply left on the city's streets.
Instead, when she was 8 days old, her mother brought her to the New York Foundling Home and left her there.  When Buscher was 11 days old, she was baptized Mary Scholl.  
In 1911, when she was 10 months old, she was put on one of the "orphan trains" bound for the Midwest.
Buscher, 78, who now lives in Breckenridge, has known since childhood that she was an orphan train baby.  But after she married and began raising a family, she seldom
thought of that part of her past.  Now, though, her mission is to make certain that the orphan trains don't become a forgotten part of America's history.
Between 1854 and 1929, close to 150,000 orphaned and abandoned children from the East Coast were loaded onto trains and shipped west.  These orphan trains, carrying
children ranging in age from infants to teen-agers, traveled to farming communities across the Midwest.  The children, who'd been given a new suit of clothing, a name tag and a
Bible, were put on display, and townspeople were asked to bring one home.
Buscher was too young to have any recollections of the long train ride, or of the wait for a family that took a fancy to her.  But she knows that she was chosen in Stuart, Neb., by a
woman who'd come to the train station with her adult daughter, who also brought home a baby named Mary. Four other children left the train in Stuart that same day.
Buscher said her new mother went to the train station with specific instructions from her husband: Don't bring home a boy, and don't bring home a girl with red hair, because
she wouldn't fit into the family.  Buscher had pitch black hair.
Buscher's new parents were relatively poor people, retired farmers in their 60s.  She speaks kindly of them, but still she said it was "not very pleasant for an infant to be raised by
old people".  She recalls that she wasn't allowed to join the high school glee club because her parents "never liked to have to go out at night".
Buscher always knew that she was "different".  She recalls that a representative from the New York orphanage would come to Stuart every fall to inspect the children, to make
sure they were getting proper care and schooling.  The  adults would talk quietly in a closed room.  Buscher said, and afterwards her mother would set a special dinner table.
"There was always this threat from year to year that if you  didn't  behave, you'd have to go back to the orphanage," Buscher said.   She, like many of the other orphan train riders,
was never legally adopted.  Instead, many were indentured.
When Buscher was 14 or 15, she found a letter with the address of  the New York orphanage.  She wrote, asking for information about her parents, and received a return letter
stating her mother's name, her date of birth and the church where she was baptized.  She learned her mother was 28 when she brought her baby daughter to the Foundling
Home.
Buscher wrote back a few years later, and someone at the home responded that they had no more information to add.
Buscher's parents died while she was in high school.  She did graduate, though, and went on to take normal training, which qualified her to teach country school.  She taught for
a year during the Great Depression, until the county had no money to pay its teachers.
She then went to work as a  bookkeeper at Land O'Lakes in  Stuart, and at Land "Lakes she met Mark Buscher, who she married in 1936,  Her husband was working in  
Breckenridge by the time they married, and that's where they settled.
"After I got married, I lost all interest in being an orphan," Buscher said.  " I thought, "pfft on it,"  But in 1959, she was watching the television news and saw film footage of
children from the New York Foundling Home walking across a street to their new hospital.
"That really woke me up again," she said, "That brought everything back to life."
Not too much later, Buscher said, her husband came home with the local newspaper and pointed out an article about a Wahpeton woman who had recently returned  home
from a visit to orphan friends she hadn't seen for 30 years.  Buscher called the woman, Mary Linzmeier, and told her she was also an orphan train rider and that she knew of
others from her hometown who were, too.   
Mary Buscher, Mary Linzmeier, and Carmella Keaveny arranged what was to be the first of many reunions of orphan train riders in Minnesota.
Now Buscher gets together yearly with orphan train survivors in both Minnesota and Nebraska, and she and her two daughters this fall attended the second reunion of the
Orphan Train Heritage Society of America.
"Every place we've gone,  we pick up some more," she said.  "We say they come out of the woodwork."  Still, Buscher added, many cannot overcome the childhood stigma of
being an orphan train baby and acknowledge their past.  Others, she said, are still bitter.
That, to Buscher is foolish.  Why be bitter, she said, when it's impossible to imagine that lives that these immigrants were living, to know the horrible hardships they faced.
"They came to America because (they heard) there was money on the shores and jobs and there weren't.  And they couldn't take care of (their children)...and (babies) were left
lying on the streets of New York."  The situation  was so bad, she said, that the New York Foundling Home placed straw baskets outside its doors so mothers could leave their
infants there, rather than on the streets.
Buscher knows she was more lucky than some because her mother brought her to the orphanage, so Buscher has at least some sketchy details about her mother.  One of the
orphan train riders who came to Stuart with Buscher was found on the steps of St Patrick's Cathedral by the janitor; he knows nothing of his past.
As a child, Buscher wanted to see her mother - but not talk to her.  She knows of two orphan train riders who were eventually able to find their birth mothers, but she said neither
story had a happy ending.
She and others are determined to preserve the history of the orphan trains and the children who rode them.  Their efforts are getting some help from others:  The  television
series "Unsolved Mysteries" has done segments on orphan train riders, and they're the subject of a made-for-television movie, "Home at Last," that's scheduled to air in January.
The last orphan trains came through the Midwest 60 years ago, so all of the riders are in their 60's, 70's. 80's and beyond.  Recognizing that a bit of American history is  dying
along with the survivors, Buscher said she's anxious to hear from other orphan train riders in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, "from everywhere."
"We are the last of the orphan train riders left," she said.
Article submitted by Lenore Keaveny Moulsoff, daughter of Carmella Caputo Schend Keaveny, Orphan Train Rider in 1914
Researched and Composed by: Author, Renee Wendinger © 1989

                                                                            Main Train & Railroad Stations in Minnesota:

Duluth, Minnesota
Minneapolis, St Paul and Sault Ste Marie; (Soo Line)  Duluth, South Shore, and Atlantic;
Minneapolis, St Paul, and Sault Ste. Marie (known as the Soo Line)

Union:  Duluth, Missabe, and Iron Range; Duluth, Winnipeg, and Pacific; Great Northern; Northern Pacific.

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Great Northern Station:  Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy
(Burlington Route); Chicago Great Western:
Chicago, St Paul, Minneapolis, and Omaha (Chicago and Northwestern) Great Northern: Minneapolis and St Louis: Northern Pacific.

Milwaukee Road Station: Chicago, Milwaukee, St Paul, and Pacific (known as the Milwaukee Road) Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific (known as Rock Island) Minneapolis,
St Paul, and Sault Ste
. Marie (known as the Soo Line)

St Paul, Minnesota
Union Station  Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy (the Burlington Route); Chicago Great Western; Chicago, Milwaukee and Pacific (The Milwaukee Road) Chicago, Rock Island,
and Pacific
(the Rock Island)  Chicago, St Paul, Minneapolis, and Omaha (known as the Chicago and Northwestern) Great Northern: Minneapolis and St Louis;  Minneapolis,
St Paul, and Sault Ste. Marie
(known as the Soo Line); Northern Pacific.
©ST PAUL( Minnesota)Pioneer,   1918
Minnesota Historical Society
©Wendinger, Renee.
 Extra! Extra! The Orphan Trains and Newsboys of New York
Minnesota: Legendary Publications, 2010, Print.

                                                                          ST PAUL, MINNESOTA  - A CARLOAD OF ORPHANS
                                                    Fifty infant Orphan's Heads of Curly Hair Bounce in Depot's Murkiness.
                                                                                    
                                                                               Little babies, big babies, fat babies, too.
                                                                           Black heads, brown heads, red heads a few.
                                                                                    Sisters, brothers, yes and cousins,
                                                                            Babies by the tens and babies by the dozens.

A carload consignment of chubby, dimpled little bits of humanity arrive in St Paul this morning.  They are 50 foundling waifs who were brought all the way from the New York Orphan's
Foundling Asylum to be placed in new homes in the Northwest.  Anxiously waiting on the platform as the train drew in were a score of men and women, prospective St Paul and
Minneapolis parents for a dozen of the tiny youngsters.

STATIONS ATTACHE'S AMAZED
Baggage hustlers, express men and station attache's at the Union Depot stopped their work to gaze in wonder at the car attached to the train on the St Paul Road from Chicago.  Fifty
pairs of baby eyes were peering from the windows of the car into the gloomy smoke soaked atmosphere. Curly hair of brunette, blonde, and auburn, bounced up and down inside.  
Three nurses and two Sisters from the Home were busy caring for the babies.  In the front end of the car dressed in white coats, caps and mittens, sat the children who were
destined to begin life anew in St Paul and nearby towns.

EACH BABE NUMBERED
On each shoulder was pinned  a bow of ribbon with a number stamped on it.  However, the number was merely to facilitate the work of keeping track of the children.  They all have
names, and the nurses and Sisters do not call them by numbers. There was a minimum of crying, and lots of laughing and cooing.  One real casualty occurred when Margaret's
finger accidentally wandered into Dorothy;s mouth and was bitten.  
NOT HARD, of course, but sufficient enough to cause an outcry from the owner of the finger.
For months, Charles P. O'Hara, Agent for the Foundling Home has been traveling through the Northwest seeking homes for the children.  
Prospective parents
were not permitted to go through the car and make a selection.  An order is sent in by the new parents.
Minneapolis/St Paul, Minnesota Date Unknown
credit: The Minnesota Historical Society
  
Minnesota Historical Society
©Wendinger, Renee.
 Extra! Extra! The Orphan Trains and Newsboys of New York
Minnesota: Legendary Publications, 2010, Print.

                                                                                                    ORPHANS FOR ADOPTION

A carload of babies for adoption by Catholic families in the West was sent out last week from an Orphan Asylum conducted by the Sisters of Charity in New York.  Forty-five of the
sixty-five babies found foster parents in Minnesota.  The ease in which suitable orphans speaks volumes for the charity of our people.  It shows that there are many Catholic
families in the state willing to adopt children, and give them all the  advantages of a home.
While we have no intention of discouraging those who may be planning to take a child from the Orphans Home, we suggest that, before communicating with those in charge, they
assure themselves that they cannot be supplied with one nearer home. In St Paul and Minneapolis, for example, there are three orphan asylums conducted by Sisters, and in other
towns of the state there are Catholic children who have been deprived of their natural guardians.  Very often it happens that these institutions have boys and girls for whom suitable
homes in Catholic families are desired and there is no reason why preference should not be given to them by the Catholics of Minnesota and of the Northwest.  Even if the
diocesan orphanages cannot supply the demand made upon them by families anxious to adopt children, it does not necessarily follow that applications must be made to
orphanages in the East.  
Frequently priests and others who are interested in social work know of children for whom suitable homes are desired, and they would be glad to get in touch with people who may
wish to adopt a child.   If your pastor cannot help you in this matter, why not make an application to the City Missionary of St Paul or Minneapolis who may be able to help you in this
matter. Write to the
Rev. L.F. Ryan
239 Selby Avenue
St Paul, Minnesota or to the
Rev. M.A. McGrath
1623 Laurel Avenue
Minneapolis, Minnesota - who will gladly aid you in your laudable and charitable purpose.