Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

Return to the Frank Passic
Home Page  

Return to the Albion Michigan Home Page

Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

ORPHAN TRAIN, PART 3

Morning Star, May 22, 2005, pg. 3

Part 1, July 18 2004, and Part 2, July 25 2004

In the July 18 & 25, 2004 editions of this column we shared with our readers the “Orphan Train” saga about the two trains that stopped at Albion in the summer of 1857. On Labor Day weekend this past year yours truly attended the Orphan Train Re-enactment held in Dowagiac to commemorate the 150th anniversary of this phenomenon. While there, retiring Orphan Train Heritage Society founder Mary Ellen Johnson supplied me with her Michigan correspondence notes, which contained letters from several descendants of orphans that had been placed in Albion. We have followed up on these and have more information to share.

Concerning the story about Annie Kief whose name was changed here to Belle Brusie, her granddaughter Helen wrote the train her grandmother was on came to Albion in the 1880s. The children on that particular train were taught songs and poetry at the orphanage so they could put on programs at churches while they were being “looked over” by our town’s residents.

When the train stopped here in Albion on the Michigan Central Railroad, the children were taken to the Methodist Episcopal Church on E. Erie St. where they performed, and Annie was chosen by the Abram and Sarah (Phelps) Brusie family. Helen wrote, “She was never mistreated by the Brusies, but never was a real member of the family, either. She was already an expert seamstress. They allowed her to attend school for about two more years, but she was expected to be, in effect, another maid in the family and also do most of the sewing for Mrs. Brusie and her two daughters. She put in many an 18 hour day!” Helen went on to write that her grandmother returned to New England by adulthood where she married and raised a family, before moving back to Michigan in her retirement years.

I have corresponded with another descendant, Larry Bagley of Tucson, AZ about his grandfather James Bagley (1850-1911) who arrived on the OT here in Albion in early July 1857. James was originally placed with the prominent farmer Peter Mulvany of Marengo, according to the OT passenger list. He apparently had a hard time adapting to his new life, as James moved around a lot. For a time he temporarily lived with Mr. Stephen Blackhurst of Albion, and others here. In 1859 he was living in the “County Home” in Jackson, and elsewhere in the Jackson area. James eventually moved up north to Farwell in Clare County where he married in the 1870s. He then left for Osage County, Kansas in the 1880s where his sister Margaret and brother Charles had moved to. James was living in Hackett City, Arkansas by 1890, where he passed away on May 29, 1911.

Larry Bagley corresponded with the Children’s Aid Society, who several years ago sent him a photocopy of their original June 30, 1857 OT 29-passenger list page that contains his grandfather’s name on it! The list gives the full name of the child, their age, their birth country, religion, who placed them (father, mother, or orphan) on the train, the name of the foster-parent who took them in, and the place the foster-parent was from. Most children on that list were placed in Albion. For example, a John Small, age 10, was placed with Burr Hall of Sheridan Township. There are also singular entries for Springport, Spring Arbor, Sandstone, Clarence, Eckford, Marengo, and Homer. Larry has supplied yours truly with a copy of this amazing document.

The Society had used a black felt pen to obliterate the last names of the children except for the Bagleys. But with the information obtained from correspondence, and some ingenuity from yours truly, we’ve been able to positively identify at least twelve of those riders and the people who took them in as foster-children.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of James Bagley who was a member of the June 30, 1857 Orphan Train that stopped in Albion. Special thanks to Larry Bagley for his information and photograph for this week’s article.


James Bagley

Next: DECORATION DAY


Back to the Top of this Page

All text copyright, 2014 © all rights reserved Frank Passic

Did you enjoy this page?

If you've enjoyed learning about Albion history from this site, please write us a note in the Albion Guestbook. We hope you will take the time to share your interest and stories related to Albion history, especially if you have any ancestors from Albion, please let us know.

Learn more about Albion Michigan!
Visit the Albion home page.

Search the AlbionMich.com website

Albion History Articles

Historical Notebook  |  From the Archives  |  Subject List  |  100 Years Ago


Kept current by: Robin James

Indices Unlimited Indexing Services


And now a word from our sponsors

See prints of Albion Michigan , by Maggie LaNoue, the owner of the Albion Home Page.

Help to sponsor these web pages and this site.

Albion Design and Carlson Craft have worked together to offer an amazing selection of wedding invitations online. From invites, to rsvps, gifts and more, Carlson Craft has an outstanding 60 year history of creating wedding stationery packages designed to the personal tastes of each bride and groom. With their easy online ordering service and quick turn around, you will appreciate the ease of ordering and the prices also! You can order a sample card of any invitation to see the quality, and proof the wording of the invitations online.
View wedding invitations online: Design.carlsoncraft.com

wedding invitations michigan