Fifteen Orphan Train riders from New York came to Peabody’s Santa Fe depot in 1911. Others came to Marion.
Marcia Sebree has worked with the Orphan Train Museum in Concordia to track children adopted from the trains, part of a movement between 1854 and 1929 to relocate an estimated 250,000 orphaned, abandoned, or homeless children to rural communities in hope of providing better lives for them.
She was scheduled to present some of her findings at a presentation today at Peabody Senior Center:
Elida Relyea, 8, first went to live with Robert Slayter. She is sometimes referred to as Lily Slater. She later lived with the J. C. Slaymaker family and married Sam Swynhart.
John Alfred Keats, 12, was in at least three homes.
“He was known for being rather assertive,” Sebree said. “He was placed with Fred Moore from Elbing, and that placement did not mesh.”
Later, he was placed with Fred Stroh of Hope.
“In March of 1912, he went to Abilene to be placed with the Gruber family,” Sebree said. “It seemed a good placement, but he sadly died at 13 with a tumor in the chest. He is buried in the Lutheran Cemetery near Hope.”
Henry Platt, 10, was said to have gone with two other boys to Nebraska after not being placed in Peabody, but that was not correct, Sebree said.
“He was found in the Reeves family in 1915 in Greenwood County,” Sebree said. “Henry was placed with a young married couple with no children. By 1920, the house would be full with five children to join the foster brother. Sadly, on May 18, 1920, Henry was hit by a truck in front of the Reeves home. He would pass 15 minutes later. He is buried in the Twin Groves Cemetery at Severy.”
Anna Dalaghan, 12, placed with the Charles Griffith family.
“I did find a Charles Griffith living in Walton, and census did show a daughter born in New York with them after 1911,” Sebree said. “She does seem to be the orphan train rider. I have tried to find and contact the family for confirmation, but unsuccessfully.”
Katie Fichtner, 11, placed with the William Jolliffe family. She took the name Catherine.
“She was a dedicated Sunday school teacher at the Methodist church,” Sebree said. “She married late in life and continued teaching. She graduated from Peabody High School in 1922.”
Carrie Liebecajat, 14, first was placed in Sabetha, but that placement didn’t work out. She was then taken to Peabody, where she lived with the Arnold Berns family. A graduate of Peabody High School, she taught in Marion County schools.
Albert Strong, 15, first was placed with William Bauslin and later with Wood Slaymaker. He served with the cavalry and returned home in 1919. While he served in World War I, his letters home were published in the Peabody Gazette.
Rose Galusha, 9, was placed in Missouri in 1910, but that placement did not work. She next was placed with a Danish family. When that placement did not work, she rode the orphan train to Peabody and was taken in by Chris and Lena Olson.
Richard Saunders Townsend, 10, was taken in by the Coleman family in Peabody. Richard would first go to Nebraska but was found to be abused by beatings and was taken out.
Richard was allowed to communicate with his birth family. He found that his sister Ruth’s foster mother had died and asked his new parents whether his sister might come live with them.
He was a bright young man and participated actively is school. He was in many literary contests, played on the basketball team and graduated in 1919. He worked at the bank in Peabody and later the Branine and Flinn Law office.
He was elected county clerk but died of a brain hemorrhage at 21 and is buried in Prairie Lawn.
His sister, Ruth Townsend, was taken in by the Coleman family and married Walter Robinson. They settled on the Coleman farm.
Dorothy Bush was taken in by the Charles Nusbaum family. She rode an orphan train to Peabody but apparently was privately adopted.
Susan Toune, 13, placed with the Charles Devore family of Tampa.
Fred Sollett, 12, placed with the J. L. Heath family.
William Bugglin, 12, placed with T. R. Lewis.
Inez Mortimer, 9, placed with Dr. C. C. Jones.