News, Politics, and Culture from 14895

By Lacey Gardner

Orphan Train program, free to all


Historian Steve Cotton to present April 3 in Wellsville

By Kathryn Ross, VP, Thelma Rogers Genealogical and Historical Society

WELLSVILLE – Historically the Orphan Train movement from 1854 to 1929 had a connection to the local area.

 The Orphan Train was a philanthropic program that removed children from the squaller, disease and poverty of the slums and tenements in eastern cities like Boston and New York to foster homes in the rural Midwest.  

Canisteo Historian Steve Cotton will talk about the Orphan Train and its connection to the local area at a program at 6:30 p.m. April 3rd at the David A. Howe Library. The public is invited to attend this free event.

The Orphan Train founders claimed the children were orphans. Sometimes an entire family of siblings would be put on trains like the Erie and at stops along the way to the Midwest the children would be offered to foster families. Sometimes one or all the siblings would be taken. Most often they moved into farm families where they became part of the labor force. Some were adopted.

After learning about a local woman involved in the movement, Cotton spent several months researching the movement and exploring that local connection. He recently produced a book that will be for sale at his talk. The program is free and open to the public.

The program is just one of the many events hosted by the Thelma Rogers Genealogical and Historical Society to promote interest in the history of Wellsville. The group also curates the Nathaniel Dike Museum located on Dyke Street which will reopen to the public in May.

The museum houses memorabilia and information about Wellsville history including the development of the village, its industries, and its businesses. It also has an extensive collection of genealogical information pertaining to local families. There are special exhibits throughout the museum including those which have a particular relationship to ongoing or upcoming events. Usually open on Wednesdays from May through October, and on some weekends, appointments can be made to visit the museum by contacting 585-610-5343. The museum encourages visits by individuals, groups, students, or classes.

The TRGHS is a volunteer organization with hundreds of members run by President Ann Comstock, along with a slate of officers and trustees. Meetings are held every two months at the library and often feature programs. Members receive an informational newsletter six times a year which includes information on programs and Wellsville historical tidbits. A non-profit organization, the cost of membership is just $10 per person or $15 for families per year. Membership requests or donations may be submitted to the Thelma Rogers Genealogical and Historical Society, P.O. Box 6, Wellsville, NY, 14895.

Check out the story by Johanna Elattar in the Hornell Sun featuring the storied “Orphan Train”

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