This branch of the Austrian Hesch family is descended from Johann Hesch and his wife Marya (Schlinz) Hesch, who came to America from Oberschlagles, Bohemia with three sons: Paul, Mathias, and Anton. +++Johann & Marya settled in Buffalo County, Wisconsin but moved to Pierz, Mn in about 1885. .+++Mathias settled in Waumandee, Wisconsin and moved to Pierz in 1911. +++Anton never married but farmed with his dad in Agram Township, where he died in 1911.+++And Paul, my great grandfather, settled five miles away, in Buckman, Minnesota. He died there in 1900.

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Friday, January 3, 2014

The Orphan Trains

This week, we heard from dad's first cousin Laura, who, along with New Years greetings ☺, was wondering about the kids adopted by Paul & Mary Hesch, namely, Lucy and Paul. We know they came from New York City on the orphan trains.  
There's quite a bit about Lucy here already (type "Lucy" in the search box, top left) and some about Paul Vincent Doyle (type "Vincent" this time).  Hmm...we have very little about him, probably because he seemed less "family" than Lucy does.  I mean, we don't even know her birth name, while PVD was allowed to keep and use his birth name all his life.  He arrived in Minnesota as a baby, so he couldn't have had much say in the deal. Was keeping his name a qualification for his adoption, maybe? In fact, did he ever use Hesch as a last name? (We learned later that Paul changed his own name as a young man.  He thought Hesch sounded Jewish so looking for jobs would be harder.  He kept Paul, but added his birth name, "Vincent Doyle" ☺.  Evidently, he was Paul Hesch up until that time).
For the record, there were two more orphan train kids in the family: George and Henry Godfrey, brothers who were adopted by our grandparents AA and Lizzy Hesch before dad was born.  We know even less about them. Henry left the farm as soon as he was of age according to dad.  George was still on the 1930 census with the Heschs (at 26), but that's the last we know of him.

As Larry and I talked about it last night, we realized, as much as we've perused the PJ and the LFH, we'd never seen anything in the newspapers about the trains or about adoptions--no announcements about anyone going to St Cloud to pick up kids, or about new family members in town.  And, how did families find out about the possibility, if not the newspapers?

Once we started using "New York Foundling Hospital" and "New York Children's Aid Society" as search words, a few ads showed up.  First, this from
"Between 1853 and 1929, an estimated 200,000 poor, abandoned and orphaned children were shipped from New York City orphanages to western families for adoption. These children were placed primarily by the New York Foundling Hospital (NYFH) and the Children's Aid Society (CAS) and are now referred to as "Orphan Train Riders." Information as to the identities of a large number of these children has been preserved in federal and state censuses taken between 1855 and 1925, as well as in the 1890 New York City police census, and represents a potential boon to the descendants of these foundlings".
The Foundling Hospital was a Catholic institution, so the trains must have been announced in the churches, which also explains the tone of this article from the Willmar Tribune on April 27, 1910.  "What Happens to Unwelcome Babies".  
More than likely, the parishioners' sympathy and empathy was invoked...because most everyone believed that those children were the product of sin.  If you knew the strange reasoning behind the theory of 'original sin', then it didn't even need to be spoken.  Besides, people knew that this whole project was somehow underhanded.  The kids had no choice, and neither did their parents or relatives...and yet, what better solution was there?  Everyone knew that some of the kids would land in bad homes, used as servants or worse, but it couldn't be helped.  This was much better than the slums of a heartless city. 

Here's Paul's obit (May 16, 2004), and Lucy's wedding write up (October 1919), with thanks to Larry ☺

 Paul V. Doyle, age 97, of Mpls. Born in New York City on August 12, 1906. Life-long member of the Teamsters Union. Preceded in death by his wife, Aila in 1981. Survived by son, Kenneth Doyle & his wife Carol; grandson, Paul A. (Kimberly) Doyle and granddaughter, Diane C. (Leonard) Berg; great- grandchildren, Patrick and Hannah Doyle; as well as other relatives and friends. Service Thursday, 7:30 PM at the Morris Nilsen Chapel, 6527 Portland Ave S. Visitation Thursday from 5:30 PM until the time of service. Interment Friday, 10 AM at Oak Hill Cemetery. The family would like to thank the staff at Bloomington Health Care and to all of Paul's neighbors and friends for all of their care and concern shown to him. Morris Nilsen Chapel.

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