Orphan Train Sweet Romances, and Train Travel in 1855

Hello everyone, Wendy May Andrews here. When I was planning this series I had to give a great deal of thought to the timing. I chose to set the series in 1855. I didn’t want to address any of the issues connected with the war so I had to make it as early as possible, but I also needed the train to go far enough West to be interesting. And, of course, there was the orphanage too. That’s the only place I took “creative license”. Mr. Charles Brace established the Children’s Aid Society in 1853 but in my first book, I have it that my heroine, Sophie, was a resident at the orphanage for ten years before she became one of the workers there. So the timing of that doesn’t quite jive. But other than that, everything else was perfect. And, too, there’s the fact that orphanages did exist in New York City ten years before 1855, just not one’s organized by Mr. Brace as he was only born in 1826.

The history surrounding the Orphan Trains is fascinating! I’m sure there are many sad tales in the annals of its history, but for the most part it afforded the opportunity for children to have a better life than what they would have had as abandoned orphans in the stews of the big city. Mr. Brace’s theory was that every farm table had room for at least one more, so he arranged for new homes out West with families who promised to house and educate the children. Unlike some other similar arrangements, Mr. Brace did not place the children in any sort of indentured circumstances so they had a better prospect for a happy future.

I also enjoyed researching what their new town might be like. This is a four book series. The first one, the prequel, takes place exclusively in New York, but the rest are set in their new town in Missouri. All three young women are city bred. The first, Cassie, had no intention of staying in the small town. She had just grown attached to the orphans and wanted to ensure they were getting good homes. Being a socialite from New York, she was a little appalled by the circumstances of the new town. But the other two young women, who planned to make new lives for themselves out West, were relieved to find it wasn’t as primitive as they had feared. Perspective is everything!

The rail construction boom also resulted in the development of new villages and towns along the way. The readier access to supplies with the train going through helped these new towns grow and thrive. I can’t say I would have loved to live back then, but it’s certainly a fascinating time to visit through research and good books.

Thank you for stopping by my guest visit here at Petticoats & Pistols! I’ll be giving away an ebook copy of Book 1 in the Orphan Train series. (Buy link for Sophie – Book 1




His pursuit of her threatens everything – except her heart:

Sophie Brooks has lived at the orphanage since she was ten years old. Now nineteen, she’s not only a resident, she works there as well. It’s the only true home she can remember and she’ll do whatever it takes to keep it safe.

When her budding relationship with the son of one of the orphanage’s benefactors threatens the charity’s funding, Sophie must choose between her loyalties and her heart.



I’d love it if you check out the whole series page on Amazon

I can be found in various places around the web and I’d love to stay in touch: 





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18 thoughts on “Orphan Train Sweet Romances, and Train Travel in 1855”

  1. I have found orphan trains to be intriguing. I always hope that the children found warm and loving homes. I know some did not but I hope even they had a better chance.

    • I know! From the research I read, the ones from New York seemed to have a fairly high success rate. Some of the children even ended up as Presidents of the United States! Since the poverty stricken areas of the city in those days were so unpleasant, I’m sure they were better off with clean air and good food 🙂

  2. I would love to read this series. I know some children found good homes but others not so much and it is still that way today.

    • Even today! It’s so sad how many children are in need. It was actually researching the history of adoption when friends of mine were adopting a little boy that prompted me to write this series.

  3. Absolutely love the concept of orphan trains. Very good blog. Once did a book concerning the orphan trains — WAR CLOUD’S PASSION — good and interesting research.

  4. Wendy, welcome! I love orphan train stories so much. I’m all about giving our “make believe” characters happier endings than they might have had in real life–sounds like you have done just that!

  5. Welcome to P&P, Wendy! It’s great to have you. I’ve always been enthralled with the history of the orphan trains. My head whirls with all the story possibilities. Enjoy your visit and good luck with your book!

  6. Welcome Wendy. I have always been fascinated with the orphan trains. Maybe because I have always had a heart for orphans. I would love to read your book. Thank you for offering it.

  7. I understand the need for orphanages and they did good things for their residents, in most cases. There were, however, abuses in many of them. The theory behind the orphan trains was audible. Again, things didn’t always work out as they should most often for the children, but sometimes for the families which took them in. I think it was a bit like our foster system today. There are some excellent, dedicated foster families out there. There are also some doing it only for the money and some who abuse the children and the system. From what I have read, some children’s situations were little better than slavery. At the same time, others were welcomed, loved members of the family.
    I think the courage it took for the brides and children to take the leap for the possibility of a better future is to be admired and celebrated,

  8. I’m always interested in orphan trains because I had a great uncle in Indian Territory who took in orphans on his farm in the 1880s.

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