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Kansas woman shares family’s Orphan Train story

“This was a major event in our nation’s history that affected many, many families for generations. Why don’t more people know about it?”

Linda Ralston of Augusta, Kan., has made it her mission to inform others about the Orphan Train Movement, which existed from 1854 to 1929. According to orphantraindepot.org, during that time an estimated 250,000 orphaned, abandoned and homeless children were placed throughout the United States and Canada.

You can hear Linda’s story, and the story of the Orphan Train, on March 29 at 1:30 p.m. at Fort Scott Presbyterian Village, as part of our “Just Ask” education series.

“My father and his brother and sister rode the Orphan Train from New York City to Arkansas in 1913 and were adopted by a wonderful couple. They were 8, 7 and 5-years-old. Before they were put on the train, they’d spent two years in the Institute of Destitute Children,” said Linda. “While it was extremely rare for an entire set of siblings to be adopted together, my father was lucky. A couple in their early 30s had lost a baby and did not have children of their own. They only intended to take my dad and his sister, but his brother started crying, so they decided to adopt him.”

Linda’s family has a happy ending to their Orphan Train adoption story. “Some kids were adopted out into unhealthy or unsafe situations,” said Linda.

Linda’s family’s story is quite fascinating. Find out more at 1:30 p.m. on March 29. Contact Ginger Nance to RSVP at 620- 223-5550 or gnance@pmma.org.