SHERIDAN — Orphan Trains to Wyoming, a public program featuring live music, storytelling, video and discussion will be presented Aug. 28 at the Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Few people today know much about this story regarding the largest child migration in history. Between 1854 and 1929 over 250,000 orphans and unwanted children were taken out of New York City and given away at train stations across America. Children were sent to every state in the continental United States with the last train going to Sulphur Springs, Texas in 1929. Children came to Wyoming in the early 1900’s to find new homes in Lander and Ranchester.
This multimedia presentation is the official outreach program of the National Orphan Train Complex Museum and Research Center based in Concordia, Kansas. Their mission is to raise awareness and preserve stories about the orphan train movement. The presentation at the Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library was funded by Wyoming Humanities Council and Friends of the Library.
The one-hour program combines live music by Phillip Lancaster and Alison Moore, video montage with archival photographs and interviews of survivors and a dramatic reading of the 2012 novel Riders on the Orphan Train by award-winning author Alison Moore. Although the program is about children, it is designed to engage audiences of all ages and to inform, inspire and raise awareness about this little-known part of our history. What we now call the Orphan Trains was originally known as the placing out system and was organized by Charles Loring Brace and the Children’s Aid Society of New York. His mission was to rid the streets and overcrowded orphanages of orphaned and abandoned children and provide them with an opportunity to find new homes.
Many of the children were not orphans but surrendered by parents too impoverished to provide for them. The New York Foundling Hospital, a Catholic organization, also sent out children to be placed in Catholic homes. This 75-year experiment in child relocation is filled with the entire spectrum of human emotion, from heartbreak to happy endings, and reveals a great deal about the successes and failures of the American Dream.
Local relatives and acquaintances of Orphan Train Riders are especially invited to attend and share their stories with the audience. This program is free and open to the public and is intended for general audiences of all ages.