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Orphan Train Riders
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New York City in the nineteenth century could be a brutal place for a child. A magnet to immigrants and the poor in search of jobs, the city was also a haven for gamblers, thieves and murderers. When adults fell victim to alcoholism, prostitution or drug addiction, their children were the ones who suffered the most. Temperance organizations such as the American Female Guardian Society stepped in, establishing orphanages and homes for unwed mothers and battered women: "homes for the friendless." Some of the children in the homes were orphans, but some were "surrendered" by parents who were unable to take care of them. Nearly 250,000 of these children were fostered out to families across the United States via the "orphan trains." Recently several Orphan Train Rider organizations have been formed, providing opportunities for the riders to reunite with family and loved ones, and to seek sources that provide clues to their roots. This book contains valuable entrance records from several of the surrender books of the AFGS Home for the Friendless in New York. Volunteers from the Orphan Train Heritage Society of America painstakingly indexed the surrender books, which had been left to the Rockland County Historical Society. Perhaps these records hold the key to your past! The Orleans County Genealogical Society held an Orphan Train Reenactment in Medina, New York, in 2004. Photos of that event illustrate the emotional journey of the Orphan Train Riders.
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