Organizations

Memorial Unveiled to Honor Orphan Train Children

In ceremonies Saturday, August 24, 2019, the Illinois Society Children of the American Revolution unveiled one of the first Illinois memorials, to children who rode "Orphan Trains" from New York to Illinois.  This memorial is located at the Amboy Railway Depot Museum, Amboy, IL.  Ceremonies were moderated by C.A.R. State President Bryn Callahan of the Charles Carroll Society, Mt. Carroll, IL.

The memorial is a bronze bench depicting two children clutching their toys, while waiting for someone to take them to their new home.  It was crafted by Large Art, Inc. and fired at North Hollywood, CA.  The nearly $5000 cost was funded by sales of pins, in the shape of Illinois with railroad tracks running north-to-south.  These were sold by the nearly 500 members of the C.A.R. in Illinois.

Callahan holds the plaque before it was attached to the backrest.  It reads, "Placed in honor of all Orphan Train children, presented by the Illinois Society Children of the American Revolution, Bryn Callahan, State President, 2019-2020."

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When Callahan was asked why he chose this installation as his required Presidential project, he replied, "My family always knew the story of my third-great-grandfather, Richard Groharing, who was taken off the train in the Whiteside County/Fulton, IL, area in 1864.  I felt the Orphan Train was a piece of history that had been somewhat forgotten….The C.A.R. should honor these brave orphan children, who came west and helped to settle and build our area."

On hand for the festivities were Daughters of the American Revolution Chapters, Sons  of the American Revolution representation, and local officials.  Peggy Horstman, Trustee of the Amboy Railway Depot Museum, thanked the children for their interest in local history.  Mayor John Schambarger accepted the gift on behalf of the City of Amboy.  Carol Chandler, Dixon, IL, gave a short history of the Orphan Train movement.

Orphan Trains ran from the eastern states, mostly, New York, from 1854-1929.  In Illinois alone, over 10,000 children were placed in homes.  Most of them were taken to work on farms or be mother's helpers.  Some had good fortune, but many had hard times.

The Children of the American Revolution is a hereditary organization for the training of young people in true patriotism and love of Country.  A member must prove that his/her ancestor gave aid or service during the Revolutionary War.

Bryn Callahan is available to speak to groups about his project and one rider of an Orphan Train who was his ancestor.  He can be reached at bryncallahan@gmail.com or lubuckner49@gmail.com.

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