Friday, December 7, 2018

The Orphan Train movement

At the Delaware State Archives in Dover on April 13 (Saturday) 2019 at 2 PM; author, Donna Aviles will speak about "The Orphan Train movement" and its significance. The Orphan Train Movement was a program that transported orphaned and homeless children from east coast cities to foster homes in the rural Midwest. The orphan trains operated between 1854 and 1929, relocating about 200,000 orphaned, abandoned, abused, or homeless children.

above children lined up on the orphan train

With 200,000 children involved in this relocation it would come as no surprise that several million descents of the orphan train children are out there today.  With families moving and relocating it should come as no surprise also that Delmar has people that connect back to the orphan train. 

Three orphan train people were Mildred A. Krauss Pilgrim (1904-1999), Mabel (1902- )  and Harold William Krauss Pilgrim (1900-1945).  The brother and sisters were adopted by William Frank Pilgrim and Anna Mae Elwick Pilgrim who at the time of adoption (1913) lived in Iowa where they had a large farm with cattle. The area suffered an epidemic of hoof and mouth disease and the family lost their cattle and had to sell the farm.  The family moved to the Jersey Road area of Delmar, Maryland about 1923.  

Mildred, Harold and Mabel were the children of Anna Cummings (1880-1908) and William Krauss (1873- )of Brooklyn, New York.  When Anna died the children were taken by a welfare society.  William Krauss who was a printer, was allegedly involved in criminal activities with a Prussian gang in New York.  For what ever reason William Krauss gave up his children and in the 1910 census they were at the Brooklyn Industrial Association and Home for Destitute Children.

It is unclear how but someway the children ended up at the Children Aid Society in Chicago where they were put on a large stage with other children to be viewed by the audience.  It happens that Frank and Anna Pilgrim were in the audience and wanted two children.  They picked Harold and Mabel but Mildred, age 4, put up such a fit of crying they took her also. 

Little information is available about Mabel.  By 1930 she lived in Sacramento and was married to Eugene Short. Mabel and Mildred made many trips visiting one another 
above Mabel and Mildred Pilgrim.

between Delmar and California until their deaths.  

Harold, by the time the family moved to Delmar, was in the Navy.  Delmar to him was a home address used while in the Navy and a place to visit his adopted parents while on leave.  When he was discharged from the Navy he remained in Hawaii where he married Helen Alice Sanborn (1907- ) in 1925.  He worked as a welder/pipefitter civilian employee for the Navy.  He must have been at Pearl Harbor and saw the attack that happened on December 7 (today).  He died in 1945 of unstated causes and was buried at Diamond Head Memorial Park.  Harold and William had for children; Genevieve Helen (1925-2006), Wilhelmina Frances (1925-1981), William (1932- ), Richard Ronald (1938-2005).  Perhaps the names of the two girls came from his Krauss family.  Helen would later marry a Mr. Mills and in 1955 Walter Benavitz. Helen would visit the Pilgrim family over the years and bring her children with her. 

Mildred (1904-1999) would live in Delmar and marry Clarence Cooper Bradley, a railroad worker.  They would have for children; Frank L (1932-2014), Mabel Anna (1929-2018), and Clarence F (1927-1936).   Mildred would work in the pants factory in Delmar.
Mildred Krauss Pilgrim Bradley with her son Clarence (Jackie was his nickname) 

Thanks to The Mockingbird Vol III no 9 newsletter of the Double Mills and Stephanie Elliott for photographs and material

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