[SOLUTION] Orphan Train

After reading the article on the “Orphan Train”, write a brief essay making an educated guess on what conditions combined to create the existence of such a remarkable thing as “The Orphan Train” in Michigan at the time in question. Be sure to include historical facts to support your guess. When you are finished submit the essay through your student folder for grading. Due by end of week Three.  Article-  TRACKING THE TRAIN The idea came up when we were working on the Oxford documentary,” said Dave Eicher. “After we completed that project, the idea sort of jelled into, ‘Let’s find more information about this.’” Dave and his father, Al, learned from an Oxford newspaper obituary about a local doctor who came to town as a child on an orphan train. A local Oxford historian told the Eichers that her grandfather also chose a child when a similar train came through the area in 1869. “We thought,” Al said, “‘Where in one county there’s two of them, how many more are there?’” The Eichers were soon on the track of the orphan train and its Michigan connections. Research about the orphan train took the Eichers to the New York Children’s Aid Society, the Boston Home for Little Wanderers and to museums across the state as well as to organizations with online databases collecting information about orphan train riders. They discovered that few documents or papers existed for children who had been placed out through the orphanages that used the train. This type of research was not new for the Eichers, who own Program Source International, a Bloomfield Hills video production and marketing company that specializes in historical profiles of small towns around Michigan. Relying on groups such as the Orphan Train Heritage Society of America (OTHSA) and its website, www.orphantrainriders.com, the Eichers pulled together enough information to create “The Orphan Train in Michigan,” a 38-minute video they say brings more phone calls and emails—some seeking information and some giving it— every week. “They’ll ask us, ‘Where did you get your information? Do you have our family name on your registry?’ And we send them to two different places,” said Al. The two places are the OTHSA website and the Orphan Register, run from Omaha, Nebraska (with a website at www.rootsweb.com/~ neadoptn/register.html). “It’s kind of a network,” Al said. “When people find out what you’re trying to do, everybody’s sharing. I would say about 130 names are known in Michigan. And out of 12,500 [that the orphanages placed here], there’s obviously a lot more.” The Eichers found more stories than appear in their video, which with their other videos won them an Award of Merit for Distinguished Professional Service from the Historical Society of Michigan in September 2002. Some details about orphans were left out because no supporting photos were available. To share these stories, the Eichers are making presentations to local historical societies and other interested groups. They also continue to collect names for their Michigan orphan register. Anyone with more information about the orphan train in Michigan, especially someone with a family connection to one of the orphans, is welcome to contact the Eichers by e-mail at [email protected] program-source.com or by telephone at (248) 333-2010. They maintain a website, www.program-source.com, and they’re spreading the word about a reenactment of the first orphan train drop-off in Dowagiac, scheduled for September 24-25, 2004. The reenactment is being organized by the OTHSA. — Hillary Whitcomb Jesse Michigan History January/February 2003

 

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