Orphans have always tugged at my heart.
In my play as a child, I pretended I had an orphanage. But my mom knew early on that I was destined to become a nurse. Now, I am retired after 40 years of nursing and the orphans tug at my heart again. My father, Howard, was an orphan, who came to Missouri at the age of 3 and was adopted by an older couple, newlyweds. Howard Rivenburg became Howard Darnell. He died in 1949, I was too young to remember, but the ORPHAN TRAIN STORY was always shared. He had 5 children who were all successful adults. I am his last child still living. But there is a lot of grandchildren, great, and great, greats that hail from this linage. There are a lot of offsprings from his brother, Stephen Rifenburg, who hail from Grove Springs area of Missouri. It is time we honored their memory !! This is the best way I know how.
I hope you will consider helping in our cause.
Growing up as a kid, even I heard about my grandfather, who was a part of this strange thing called the Orphan Train, even though he died long before I was born. In the 4th grade, I chose it for a presentation we had to do in class and I remember going through books we had at home, showing photos of the Rivenburg kids before they were put on the trains. I remember wondering how difficult life must have been for the kids in the orphanages of cities like New York in the late 1800s and through the 1920s. And imagine the fear upon being placed in some stranger’s care, usually a farmer in the Midwest? It wasn’t until foster care was begun in the ’20s that the Orphan Trains were stopped.
My grandfather, at the tender age of 3, supposedly walked off the train and up to my great-grandparents and bravely grasped my great-grandfather’s trouser leg and tugged on it – “won’t you take me home mister?” My grandfather must have started out very brave because he watched his older siblings ride the trains and disappear, one-by-one (my mom has a more exact count of where everyone went). My mom has always had a soft spot for orphans and there are certainly enough of them in the world. This her attempt, with a little help from me now and then, to continue her mission to help orphans around the world.
One orphanage at a time. It’s amazing what a few people giving can do for a few kids on the other side of the globe.