Lifestyles
'The Orphan Train Riders: Little Survivors' to be presented Jan. 22 in Denton
By Sherrin Hubert, Denton County Office of History and Culture
Jan 21, 2014
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“The Orphan Train Riders: Little Survivors”
Presented by: Kathy Strauss

More than 200,000 children rode “Orphan Trains” in this country between 1854 and 1930. They were part of a “placing out” program created to find homes for children who were orphans or whose parents could not take care of them. Most of the “riders” came from New York or other large cities in the East. 

The trains brought groups of them to other parts of the country where they were lined up in front of crowds of curious onlookers. Interested families could then choose the child they wanted.  Within a week a child could go from living in an orphanage or on city streets to living in a Western farmhouse or village. Several children were adopted by Denton families.

On Wednesday, January 22, at 12:00 in the Commissioners’ Courtroom, the Denton County Office of History and Culture will host a lecture by Kathy Strauss on “Orphan Train Riders: Little Survivors.”

Ms. Strauss stated, “Survival is the major theme in any history of the Orphan Trains. Survival of the children of large cities left to fend for themselves; survival of those children once they were institutionalized by charity groups; survival of the Orphan Train ride and the placing-out to families of faraway cities and towns.”

Many of the "Orphan Train" riders led happy lives with their new families; however, some were treated no better than slaves. Many survived to be reunited with brothers and sisters, and to lead successful lives, often adopting children of their own.

Kathy Strauss is the Genealogy and Special Collections Senior Librarian for the Denton Public Library. She has lived in Denton for 22 years, coming here after her husband retired from the Army. She was born in Columbus, Ohio and received her B.S.and M.A. in Education from The Ohio State University and her Master of Library and Information Studies from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Prior to coming to Denton, she was a professional librarian at the San Antonio Public Library and Coppell Public Library

All exhibits and lectures are free and open to the public.  The courthouse has handicapped parking and accessibility through the north entrance.  The Denton County Office of History and Culture is located in the historic Denton County Courthouse at 110 W. Hickory in Denton, TX.