Friday, July 11, 2008

Orphan Trains to Kansas & Mabel Olyer

The Orphan Train movement began, mid 19th century, estimated that some 30,000 abandoned children were living on the streets of New York. In a 75 year span of the Orphan Train movement
resulted in between 150,000 and 200,000 "Orphan" children were relocated.
Not all the children were without parents. during this period there was two major depressions,
two wars and always their are single parents that just can not logistically provide for large families, especially a mother. Females were never paid enough to be the sole provider of numerous children at home. For a excellent article on the Orphan Train program see

This is the Family history and genealogy of, Mabel Esteela Olyer,[Furlong],[Guffoil] born 11 Feb 1890 at Lyon Mountain, Clinton,Co.,New York the first girl, of Henry Lewis Olyer and Josephine Sweeney. She was special, the parents had just lost a set of twins the year before, and now after 3 boys they had a girl.
As time passed she became the leader, among the children, it was Mabel that helped Isabel write the letter to Santa see previous post.
Probably around 1906 she met Marice Furlong who was born in Canada, they married and went to Vaughn, North Carolina, to live. Mabel came home to visit her mother and father July of 1907. When she returned to North Carolina she started a family with 4 daughters: Pearl abt 1907, Josie 1909, Isabel 1911, and Irena 1913.
Things at home turned bad, apparently her husband left her, she is using the maiden name Olyer, there is a death record of Furlong, in Saranac Lake 30 march 1947. Being left alone with 4 small girls she must have been desperate.
Her Aunt Mahala, was Matron at the Plattsburgh, N.Y., home for women and might well have influenced her into turning the girls over to the Orpan train for Kansas. During this period the
trains had excellent press; Children would be bathed, new cloths and hair done, a person would ride on the train with them, when the train stopped in Kansas, would take the four girls along with several others to a church or hall were the potential adopters would met them and decide which ones they wanted, those not taken were put back on train and sent to next stop.
These girls were lucky, all went to great homes, Even though they separated, all were married and we will post information about them later.

In 1920 Mabel is back in Harrietstown twp.,Franklin Co. New York as head of household with one lodger.
1923 she married William Guffoil
1938 she is living in Tupper Lake,New York were she was living when called to arrange for funeral of her brother charles who had passed away at Gen Hospital in Saranac Lake,New York

1940 Jul 5 she was living in Gabriels, New York, when her brother ross died

During her lifetime she was lucky to have the girls contact her and maintained a relationship with them.
Mabel passed away 26 jun 1966 at age of 76, a resident of Highland Nursing home, Massena, New York.


Rosebud Collection said...

When I read all this history about your family, it is such a sad story..
The thought of your children going on an orphan train..tragic..Never heard stories about the train. Another interesting story..

blaze200907 said...

i wonder if you know my last name is dad ross olyer never had the chance to find his still trying to find out if i have any family left.....any ides to what i should do?