America’s 200,000 Orphans History To Be Retold In Marhsall

America’s 200,000 Orphans History To Be Retold In Marhsall

MARSHALL- History has numerous little-known stories; and one such tale will be center stage in Marshall, Texas June 26, giving old and young the chance to explore a bit of history they may have never known otherwise. Novelist and humanities scholar Allison Moore, and singer/songwriter Phil Lancaster will present Riders on the Orphan Train, a contemporary, multi-media presentation combining audio visual elements, historical fiction and musical ballads into a collaborative performance geared towards audiences of all ages. 

In 1849, Charles Loring Brace, a young Presbyterian minister, arrived in New York City, at a time when nearly 10,000 children were either living full- or part-time on the streets of New York City. Many of these unwanted children, or “street rats,” as they were often called, were immigrants, and had formed gangs near Manhattan’s first slum, Five Points. Discarded, they relied on one another for survival.

Determined to help these orphaned, and abandoned children, Brace’s early outreach consisted of giving orphans food and Biblical instruction, and soon he began trying to help the boys find work. He ran into obstacles, however, when the New York Labor Unions refused to allow the boys to work. Brace didn’t give up, starting the Children’s Aid Society in 1853, which began sending the unwanted children West across America by the trainload. During the eighty years between 1854 -1929, more than 200,000 orphans were taken out of America’s largest cities, and were “given away” at train stops across the country. Both heartbreak and happy endings ensued. Some orphans faced horrors during their trips by train and in their new homes; others were adopted as family members in loving homes and thrived.

Moore and Lancaster developed Riders on the Orphan Train in 1997. It’s currently the official outreach program for the National Orphan Train Complex Museum and Research Center located in Kansas, and has been presented in more than 300 museums, libraries and schools across eight states since 1998. With help from various humanities councils around the nation, the program is currently being presented in underserved areas. The Marshall presentation was made possible by historic Marshall T&P Depot and a grant from Humanities Texas.

The program will be held Wednesday, June 26 at 6 p.m., inside the historic Ginocchio Hotel, located next to the depot, at 800 N. Washington Street. The presentation will last roughly 1 ½ hours, including a 45 minute question and answer session. It’s a free program for the public, with donations accepted. 

For more information, contact the historic Marshall T&P Depot at 903-938-8248. Additional event information, lodging reservations and information about Marshall can be found by visiting or by calling the Marshall Convention and Visitors Bureau at903-702-7777.

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