Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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ORPHAN TRAIN, Part 2

Morning Star, July 25, 2004, pg. 12

(Here is a link to part one.)

We continue with our story about the Orphan Train children who were placed in Albion. Siblings were often transported on the trains together. The 1881 report stated: “Charles B., age 7 in 1857, was placed with Peter Mulvaney [of Marengo] until he was 19, and then went to Kansas. Not heard from since.” That person would have been Charles Bagley, who according to a grand-nephew Lawrence Bagley, was born in 1854 and would have been three years old at the time of his arrival here.

Lawrence submitted information to the OTHS that his grandfather James and a sister Margaret, were also placed in Albion on the train that left NYC on June 30, 1857. Lawrence mentions that James was born in NYC in 1850 (it was he that was age 7; the report had switched the ages of the brothers) and was originally placed with Mr. Stephen Blackhurst of Albion in July, 1857. He was placed in several other homes during the next two years. After leaving the area in 1862, he was living in Hackett City, Arkansas in 1890. Margaret was placed with the Wallace family here in February, 1858 until May, 1861, when she lived with a Mr. Ensign at Paw Paw until October, 1863. After that point she was placed with an unknown family and was never heard from again.

Another sibling group were the Anderson children. George M. Anderson age 8 in 1857 (June 30 train) was placed with Mr. William H. Pardee, of Albion. An 1876 letter stated that he was a successful lawyer practicing in Jackson, Michigan, was married, and “a noble young man.” He had been living in Rockford, IL in 1874. His name appears in the 1883 Jackson City Directory.

George’s siblings were his older half-brother William Knott-Anderson from Scotland, and sister Margaret Anderson. Contact with the Aid Society stated that their parents were Protestant; the mother was living in NYC, but the step-father was dead. William (age 10 in 1857) was placed with John Doran at Albion until 1861, when he lived at the County House in Marshall. He subsequently lived with Mr. Frank Taplin in Jackson County, where he had a good home according to the correspondence. In 1865 he moved to Clarence Township, and went into the U.S. Army at Fort Stevens, Oregon in 1867. Additional information has been provided to the Orphan Train Heritage Society by descendants, who wrote that William married Sarah Abbot of Eaton Rapids, and had a family of two girls and three boys. He died there in Eaton Rapids.

Sister Margaret Anderson was placed with R. R. Crockett in Albion for a year, then was placed with Mr. Horace Loss of Homer. In 1861 she was staying with William H. Pardee in Albion, and later William B. Swan in 1867. Letters through the 1860s reported her well taken care of. In 1876 her brother George contacted the Society office and reported her deceased.

One “blot” on the group concerned a “Charles J., age 8 in 1857.” The report states that he was placed with Mr. Levi Knapp of Albion, and “is the only one who seems to have been dishonest. He is reported married and a farmer, who ran away to Texas leaving his bondsmen to pay $2,000 due Mr. Augustus Porter Gardner of this place.”

One name in the report I’ve not been able to identify, but perhaps our readers might be able to recognize the facts. It states, “William G., aged 5 when placed with Eli B., of Albion, Mich., in 1857, is there yet. He is an intelligent and well educated young man, who speaks in the highest terms of his foster-parents, and is himself well thought of by all who know him. He is married, has learned the trade of a molder, has steady employment and is doing well.” The fact that the report was written in 1881 leads us to believe that this person probably worked at the Gale Manufacturing Company.

After a hiatus during the Civil War, the orphan trains continued and operated through Michigan until 1927--a total period of 73 years. One girl, Annie Kief was placed here in 1886 at age 15. She was adopted by Abram and Sarah (Phelps) Brusie, and her name changed to Belle Brusie. The family lived at 703 N. Superior St. and their names appear in the 1885 Albion City Directory. Do any of our readers know of any other Orphan Train children that were placed here in Albion?

Part 3: May 2, 2005

Next: Albion 100 Years Ago - AUGUST 1904


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