Hi. Marilyn Turk here. I'm so excited to have award-winning author Kim Vogel Sawyer as my guest blogger today! Kim's book, My Heart Remembers, was about the orphan trains that existed in the United States in the early 20th century. I loved the book, which won four first place book awards - the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, the Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and the Colorado Christian Writers Book of the Year Award. Leave a comment at the end of her post for a chance to win a copy.
Here's Kim's post:
When I wrote My Heart Remembers, which featured three children sent from New York to Missouri on an orphan train, I was surprised by the number of readers who had never heard of “orphan trains.” I find the orphan train movement a very unique part of our nation’s history.
Between 150,000 and 200,000 children--some orphaned, some abandoned, some surrendered by parents unable to care for them--were sent via the railroad from New York to western states. The practice was started by a preacher named Charles Loring Brace, who founded The Children’s Aid Society to provide education and shelter to “street urchins.” Realizing that children needed a family as well as an education, he began arranging transport to states where farm families would reside, reasoning they would be most likely to welcome additional children into their families. The first group of orphans left New York in 1854.
Brace’s goal was for the children to be adopted and treated like biological children. In some cases, the goal was met; in others, the goal dismally failed. But when one considers the many difficulties unsupervised youngsters could encounter living on the streets--starvation, forced prostitution, disease--having shelter, clothes, and food was an improvement.
Although the intentions were good in sending the children west, not all of the process was positive. When the trains arrived, the children would be “paraded” past potential parents, almost like cattle up for auction. Sibling groups were frequently separated, the children never seeing each other again. Some children were taken in and treated like family members; others became little more than servants. Agents were supposed to check on the wellbeing of placed children, but the follow-through wasn’t consistent, and some children suffered physical abuse in their new homes.
Despite the potentially negative end results, the Children’s Aid Society continued to send children until 1930 when the Depression made it difficult for families to feed yet another mouth. Additionally, new laws and programs were being instituted to help children, opening the foster care system with which we are familiar today and closing the many institutions and orphanages.
It’s estimated that around 2 million people are descendants of an orphan train rider. I’m one--my stepgrandmother rode a train at the age of seven and came to Kansas. Is there an orphan train rider in your family tree?
In 1966, Kim Vogel Sawyer told her kindergarten teacher that someday people would check out her book in libraries. That little-girl dream came true in 2006 with the release of Waiting for Summer's Return. Since then, Kim has watched God expand her dream beyond her childhood imaginings. With over 30 titles on library shelves and more than a million copies of her books in print, she enjoys a full-time writing and speaking ministry. Empty-nesters, Kim and her retired military husband, Don, operate a bed-and-breakfast inn in small-town Kansas with the help of their four feline companions. When she isn't writing, Kim stays active serving in her church's women's and music ministries, traveling with "The Hubs," and spoiling her quiverful of granddarlings. You can learn more about Kim's writing at www.KimVogelSawyer.com.
Kim Vogel Sawyer
Newest Releases: THROUGH THE DEEP WATERS, 4.5 Stars Romantic Times;
ECHOES OF MERCY, 4.5 Stars TOP PICK Romantic Times
Coming Soon: WHEN MERCY RAINS
I've been fascinated with the orphan trains since reading Joan Lowery Nixon's series on the topic in elementary school. I'd love to read Kim's book... going on my to-read list! Thanks for the giveaway!ReplyDelete
colorvibrant at gmail dot com
Heidi, we'll put you in the giveaway drawing! I, too, was fascinated by the orphan trains.Delete
Heidi, I read those same books and always wondered about the children on those trains. I've read Kim's book and it was so good. Thanks for sharing, Kim, and I look forward to reading your next book.ReplyDelete
Martha, thanks for the comment. In addition to My Heart Remembers, Kim has plenty of other books to choose from for your reading enjoyment. Through the Deep Waters has just released and I look forward to reading it as well.Delete
I have all of Kim's books and just recently finished Echoes of Mercy and looking forward to the sequel.Delete
As a lover of all things history, I've read tales of the Orphan Trains that have been filled with both hope and sadness for the reasons mentioned above...loving families vs. wretched situations. Kim's book sounds like a must read.ReplyDelete
Sandy, yes, it is. And Kim's book covers the wide range of consequences these children experienced.ReplyDelete
I cannot imagine what those precious children faced knowing that they had to board trains for a future they knew nothing about. I find this very interesting and would love to know more. Thank you for the giveaway.ReplyDelete
mauback55 at gmail dot com
Hard to believe, isn't it? Especially when siblings were separated. Melanie, got you entered in the giveaway!Delete
I love reading and learning about parts of history that you never learn about in school. I have read some fictional books on orphan trains but, as far as I know, I do not have any descendants that were part of an orphan train. If I did have any and it was known by my grandparents, they never told me as they rarely talked of the past.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the giveaway.
Deanna, I wonder how many of us had relatives from the orphan trains? Seems like it would be more likely in the midwest.Delete
Wonderful post - brought tears to my eyes and curiosity to my heart to learn if there are any orphan train riders in my ancestry. Thanks so much. davalynnspencer at hotmail dot comReplyDelete
Thanks, Davalyn, for your comment. Wouldn't it be interesting to find out one of your ancestors came from an orphan train?Delete
I've always been intrigued with orphan trains, thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
That had to be so scary for those young children, leaving everything familiar.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the reply,Terri. Will enter you in the giveaway drawing.Delete
My grandmother and two of her brothers were orphan train riders. Her oldest brother 'escaped' from the aid society and lived off the streets of NYC at the age of about 13. My grandmother and great uncles rode the train west where the boys were each placed in different homes but for some reason no one wanted a 10 year old girl so my grandmother was brought back to NY. It was many years before she would ever see her two brothers. Her oldest brother found her and they remained close until his death. In fact he married her best friend! I wish I had asked her more questions when she was alive. It must have been a very scarey time for them.ReplyDelete
Mary B in NY. atouchofheaven2010 at gmail dot com.
How interesting, Mary! You're the first person I've "met" who knew their ancestors rode the train. Thanks for sharing.Delete
Hi Marilyn, This isa sorryful thing for all of these children. Could cause them to have problems. I use to have a book about these children. But was a gift for a daughter and don't remember the title or author. Need to see if she still has it. Just think how scary that would be to just get on a train and go to a strange place. There was a story in the Love Comes Softly T V series where Train Orphans were brought to their little town. Some people just wanted them for the work they could do. I would love to win Kim's book. Thanks for this give-away. Maxie > > > >mac262(at)me(dot)comReplyDelete
Hey Maxine, Thanks for sharing the info about the Love Comes Softly show. Will enter you for the drawing.Delete
I have always wondered about the orphan trains and all those children. I will put this on my to read list.ReplyDelete
grammador at gmail dot com
Maybe you'll win the drawing, Dorie!Delete
And the winner of the book, My Heart Remembers, is Mary B. in New York! Congratulations, Mary!ReplyDelete
I have read Orphan Train by Christine Baker Kline and was so interested in this part of history. So hopeful to hear about your book on the subject and look forward to a Christian's approach to the subject. Sounds excellent to me. sharon, CA wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)comReplyDelete