By guest Renee Wendinger:
My mother, Sophia (Kaminsky-New York name,) Greim (foster name,) Hillesheim (married name,) is a 1917 orphan train rider to Minnesota. She is one of the few surviving riders, and her family celebrated her 99th birthday in April.
Born in Bronx, New York, Sophia was placed west by orphan train, on what was termed the baby trains or baby specials, through the auspices of the New York Foundling Hospital in New York City. She was only two years old. Her complete story, and the story of a young boy making his way from Europe, to New York, to Iowa aboard an orphan train by way of the New York Children’s Aid Society, can be read in my newly launched book, Last Train Home.
I have heard numerous stories of orphan train riders since I was a young girl of 10 attending orphan train gatherings with my mother. I found each rider’s story fascinating, unique and remarkable. Each year at orphan train gatherings, I immersed myself in their stories; my ears absorbing their every word. I’m now president of Orphan Train Riders of New York, an author, and presenter of the Orphan Train Experience.