The first reference I heard to orphan trains was when my dad and I were at the New Hope Baptist Church Cemetery located southeast of Centralia, and he said, “That guy buried there came on the orphan train.” Dad was head deacon of the church at that time, and he knew most of the people who were buried in the small church’s cemetery. I later found out Charlie Rose came to the area on the orphan train, lived with a local family and later married a local girl, Maggie Mayes. His brother Donald Rose — also an orphan form New York — was sent to a family in the Rolla area. Both brothers settled around Mexico, MO for a while, and Donald married Maggie’s sister Janie. Though Donald would later die near St. Louis just months after his wife Janie, both couples were buried in this little church cemetery outside Centralia.
Fourteen children came to the area from the Children’s Aid Society on June 10, 1910 in hopes they would find a new home. Ranging in ages from 4 months old to 14 years old, 11 of them went home with families in the area. I have been able to locate either the names of the children or the names of the families that took in these children, and I’ve also discovered a total of 25 orphans who came to northern Boone or western Audrain counties to live with new foster families homes. A partial list is provided below.
The library will be hosting several programs this spring highlighting the orphan train experience. Phillip Lancaster and Alison Moore will be performing a multimedia program combining live music and storytelling along with interviews of survivors: Continue reading “The Orphan Train Comes to Central Missouri”