Music and storytelling were the orders of the day Saturday as descendants of Orphan Train riders and other visitors came to the Nazareth Motherhouse as part of the Ninth Annual Orphan Train Reunion in Concordia.
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The reunion began Friday morning, with most events at the Morgan-Dowell Research Center, which is part of the National Orphan Train Complex and Museum in Concordia. But late Saturday morning the program shifted to the Motherhouse, with the Sisters of St. Joseph as the hosts. The morning program of “Riders Stories” was followed by lunch and then a special presentation of “Riders on the Orphan Train.”
The presentation combines music with photographs, audio and video, and was created by Alison Moore and Phil Lancaster, both of Austin, Texas. Moore, an author and musician, included a reading from her upcoming novel about the Orphan Train as part of the program.
Before the program began, two descendants of Orphan Train riders shared short stories. Judye Ruffo of Lincoln, Neb., talked about her mother, Ann Harrison, who at 102 was not able to come to Concordia for the reunion. Harold Dupre of Opelousas, La., told the story of his father, who was one of about 100 orphans who were sent to Louisiana in 1907.
Between 1854 and 1929 an estimated 200,000 orphaned, abandoned, and homeless children were placed out during, what is known today as, the Orphan Train Movement. The name is derived from the children’s situations, though they were not all orphans, and the mode of transportation used to move them across 47 states and Canada.
When the orphan train movement began, it was estimated that 30,000 abandoned children were living on the streets of New York City.
The National Orphan Train Museum is housed in a renovated 1917 Union Pacific depot located just a couple of blocks north of downtown Concordia. To learn more, CLICK HERE.
To learn more about “Riders on the Orphan Train” by Alison Moore and Phil Lancaster, CLICK HERE.