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