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Orphan Train Index

During the Orphan Train movement from 1853 to 1929, an estimated 250,000 children were sent by train from large urban areas in the East to all 48 continental states. Information shows that orphans were brought to Mishawaka/South Bend by Catholic charities such as the New York Foundling Asylum and New York Home Bureau for Dependent Children. We have also found information on Orphan trains to Elkhart County sponsored by the New York Children’s Aid Society and Boston’s Baldwin Place Mission/Home for Little Wanders. Please see the South Bend Area Genealogical Society Quarterly (January 2016 and April 2016 issues) for additional historical background. (Located in the Member Only section).

We are grateful for information provided by descendants of orphan train riders. Research using contemporary newspapers (Goshen Daily news, Elkhart Review, South Bend Tribune, South Bend Daily Times) and United States census records for St Joseph and Elkhart Counties provided additional names of orphans and the families that accepted them.

Information may be searched by orphan birth surname (if known) or by adoptive/foster surname. Many children used the name of the family they were placed with as children, but not all were formally adopted. Given names could also be changed, especially for children placed as infants or young children. Some reverted to their birth names at a later time. We suggest you search both files.

Every effort was made to be as complete and accurate as possible but any database may contain unintentional errors. Please send any corrections or additional information to SBAGS

View the Index sorted by Birth Surname: View by Birth Surname

View the Index sorted by Foster Surname: View by Foster Surname

View a sample Adoption Notification Letter: View Letter

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