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West by Orphan Train
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Between 1854 and 1929, nearly a quarter of a million children from the East Coast were resettled under what came to be known as the Orphan Train Movement. This is their story. 

West By Orphan Train 
SUNDAY, MAY 16, 6 PM 

Between 1854 and 1929, nearly a quarter of a million children from the East Coast were resettled under what came to be known as the Orphan Train Movement. The goal of the movement was to get homeless and destitute children off the streets of growing cities and resettle them with rural families. It is estimated that between 6,000 and 10,000 children were settled in Iowa. This Orphan Train documentary explores the origins of the movement and the experiences of the young riders through the archival photographs, historical re-enactments, expert interviews and first-person accounts from Orphan Train Riders. 

Airdates: 

● WTVP-HD 47.1 – Sun, 05/16/2021 @ 6 PM

Orphan Train Map

A Local Connection 

Peorian Jim Kidder shared with WTVP his special connection to the Orphan Train Movement. Kidder’s grandmother, Emily Reese, was one of the young orphans that were relocated to the Midwest. 

In 1892, Emily was born the youngest of 10 children in New York City. Emily’s father left the family when she was about two years old. Her mother soon became overwhelmed and Emily and her older brother, Richard, were sent to an orphanage. At age 13, Emily took a life-changing train trip that led her to several temporary homes in Iowa before finding a home in Wisconsin. 

Jim Kidder smiled and shared stories of his grandmother, who lived a full and happy adult life, but her real story started on the Orphan Train.