Gilbert Eadie’s Story

Posted by on March 26, 2014 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

by Guest Elaine Eadie

My grandfather, John Eadie, along with his twin brothers, Hugh and Tom, arrived at Ellis Island, New York as immigrants from Glasgow, Scotland around 1891. My grandfather became a U.S. citizen October 19, 1892.

Shortly after my grandfather arrived he found work immediately since he was a mason. He helped build the St. John the Devine Cathedral in New York City.

My grandfather, John Eadie, married Adelia Kelly from New York City and six children were born to this union. In 1911 Dad’s mother’s health began to fail and Dad, along with two of his siblings, went with their mother to Connecticut in hopes of getting help for her health. She passed away in July, 1911. John carved his wife’s tombstone, which I have a picture of.

The following year Dad’s father’s health was failing. Dad always said his father died of a broken heart after the passing of his wife. He passed away in April 1913.

In December 1912, Dad and his youngest brother were taken to the Brace School for Boys in Valhalla, New York, which was fifty or sixty miles north of the city. Dad always said if he could have lived his life over, he would have stayed at the Brace School since he thought the world of Mr. and Mrs. Wendel who Dad called Ma and Pop Wendel. They were the caretakers of this school and Pop Wendel taught school there. His sister made one request – that the boys were never to be split, and the Children’s Aid Society kept her wish. They remained together until Walter passed away in 1937 from Multiple Sclerosis.

My father, Gilbert Eadie, and his younger brother, Walter, rode the orphan train from New York City to Northwood, Iowa on July 17, 1913. The Children’s Aid Society already had a home picked for Dad and Walter, and they did not have to stand before the crowd to be picked over like slaves on the platform or stage at the Dwelle Opera House.

The night of their arrival they, along with Anna Laura Hill from the Children’s Aid Society, stayed at the hotel in Northwood before departing for Pratt, Kansas where they lived with Mr. and Mrs. William Wright. They had two daughters the same age as Dad and Walter. Mr. Wright was a school teacher and the boys rode in the surrey to school each day.

The Wrights’ parents came from Pennsylvania and convinced the Wrights to move back to Pennsylvania, which they did, but they did not want to take the boys with them. Anna Laura Hill came to Pratt, Kansas and brought the boys to Waukon, Iowa January 24, 1914. She took them to the Dan Kelly farm east of Rossville, Iowa, where they remained. They were never adopted.

Dan also had a sister and their mother living with him at the time, and they were told to call them Uncle Dan and Aunt Nett. Uncle Dan treated Dad as if he was his son and Dad returned him the same favor.

Dad and Mother were married June 30, 1936 and Mom took care of the Kelly’s until their deaths. There were four children born to this union.

Dan and Nett Kelly’s family originally came from Ohio and there were thirteen children born to this union.

Dad only had an eighth grade education and attended the Crossroads country school, which was one mile from his home. Walter graduated from Waterville High School in 1926. In April 1918 his teacher asked Dad to write an essay about how a farmer’s boy could help the war in 750 words. Dad won in the county and won an all expense paid ten day trip to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, along with boys from all the counties in Iowa.

On February 8, 1978 Dad was honored at the Children’s Aid Society’s 125th anniversary in New York City. There were many elite prominent figures of New York City and the Children’s Aid Society in attendance. Many of the orphans were unable to attend due to a major snow storm and Dad wondered if he would make it to the Milwaukee Airport due to the road conditions.

In 1972, Mother and Dad went to Scotland since one needed to know about your family and where they came from and spent two weeks there. There were many by the name of Eadie in Glasgow, Scotland.

Mother and Dad moved from the farm in August 1982 to an apartment, which was a large adjustment after living on the farm so many years. Up until their move from the farm Dad went to the woods every day, weather permitting, and cut wood since wood was their source of heat.”


  1. I have abusiness in the Dwelle Building and it is so nice to read some history on where I am located. Some of the old residents I feel still remain in this building as I know much history remains in this town. thank you for your history on your family!!

    • Sorry, but I just found this article on the internet and was glad to hear your response. I have been busy presenting talks throughout northeast Iowa and into Wisconsin regarding Dad’s life as an orphan train rider. I would live to see the inside of the Dwelle building since my Dad was there in July 17, 1913.

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