Saturday, December 19, 2015

Orphan Journeys

Imagine yourself as an orphan, struggling for survival in dirty New York streets, where disease and crime run rampant. Journey from these wretched streets to a temporary lodging in an overcrowded orphanage and then to the train station. After riding the train for hours, picture yourself lining up with other children, waiting as adults look you over. Would they choose you--or would you have to hold onto the hope that maybe, at the next station, someone would want to bring you home?

Charles Loring Brace had a vision for New York orphans that brought them through the journey from streets to homes. He began his orphan work in 1853, then in 1854, because of lack of orphanage space, Brace sent the first orphan train to Dowagiac, Michigan, where the children could be sheltered by local families. The orphan train continued until 1929, bringing at least 150,000 children to new homes.

From the 1850s up through the 1920s, abandoned or homeless children in New York City were uprooted and put on trains that took them to rural communities. Here several children are lined up with the hopes that someone will take them to a new home.
Pictures via my Pinterest Board

Brace desired to place children in good, Protestant homes but this did not always happen. Siblings were often separated and some couples would take orphans for cheap labor. Though many orphan train riders ended up as successful men and women, not all of them turned out to be trustworthy citizens.

Such is the preface of Orphan Journeys, a fictional novella series based off of the American Orphan Train saga, following orphans not only as they adjust to a new life, but also as they travel a spiritual journey. The first installment of this series, Journey to Love (which you may remember a little from here and here), is on its last leg of the journey and should be open to the public in winter 2016. I would greatly appreciate your prayers as I submerge into editing. I have some pretty amazing beta readers who are not only encouraging, but also aren't afraid to be bold in their critique. Keep your eye out--I might give you more of a peek into Marie's life in the next few weeks.

Children's Aid Society placement card

Have you heard of the orphan train before? 
What projects are you working on this winter?


Rebekah said...

Yes, actually I have heard of the Orphan train riders before. In fact, when I was writing my first book "Home Fires of the Great War" I included two orphans from an orphan train in the story.
Your upcoming story sounds interesting.

Olivia said...

Oh yes and it has always fascinated me :) I'm very excited about your book and will be praying for you as you edit.

Amanda T. said...

Rebekah, that is so neat! I have thoroughly enjoyed researching the orphan train and am interested in learning more. :)

Olivia, thanks so much for the prayers!! I reeeallllly appreciate them! :)

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