A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ORPHAN TRAIN MOVEMENT
........The Orphan Train movement began in 1854 and continued until 1930.During this 75 year time span, somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 orphaned, abandoned, and homeless children were sent "west" from New York on trains to find new families. There were two main organizations that
"shipped" children west to new homes. They were: 1) The Children's Aid Society run by Rev. Charles Loring Brace, and 2) The New York Founding Hospital, operated by the Sisters of Charity. It was hoped by these organizations, that by sending these "orphans" out west to find new "families"
they would have a better chance of leading a happy and productive life, than if left to fend for themselves on the streets of New York. Both of these charitable organizations are still in operation today. The first Kansas-bound Orphan Train arrived in the state in 1867, and the last Kansas train arrived in 1930 (the same year the Orphan Train movement officially ceased operations). During that time,
it is estimated that between 5,000 and 6,O00 children were placed in Kansas homes. Some of these children were adopted by their new Kansas families, but many were not. The following is the story of two Kansas bound Orphan Train Riders.
According to the records at the Children's Aid Society, Anna was born on April 23, 1895 and William was born on July 23, 1897. Both were born in Staten Island. Their parents were William and Anna White Potthoff. Their father was a painter. Both parents were Protestant. The last known address of the parents was 478 Cary Avenue, West New Brighton, Staten Island. The children's grandmother was Marie Potthoff of 21 South Street, West New Brighton, Staten Island. On July 6, 1909 Anna and William were placed in the Five Points House of Industry in New York City. No reason why was given. On January 10, 1911 they were transferred to The Children's Aid Society. By this time their parents where-abouts were unknown. On January 17, 1911
Anna and William had arrived by train in Oskaloosa, Kansas, and were placed with the Louis and Margaret Kimmel family. A baptismal certificate for Anna shows that she was baptized on April 18th, 1897, in Saint Paul's Church, Staten Island, New York. The certificate listed parents as William and Annie Potthoff and sponsors as James and Emily White (possibly her maternal grandparents). Efforts to find this church, to search their records, have been unproductive. Also, efforts to obtain access to the records of the Five Points House of Industry have been unproductive to date..........
*we learn something new about our old "Home of The Heart" everyday
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