[Narrator 1:] That day, in 1911, the train drew to a stop in a small, rural town in western Oklahoma. A lady
climbed down from the train car; she began to lift children from the train. She carefully placed them on the
platform where would-be parents were waiting. The German couple looked at the children anxiously. The woman's
eyes fixed on a tiny fifteen-month old girl as the man spied a bright, smiling three year old boy. [Sound of
children yelling] The couple's dream of a family was about to be fulfilled. The story of these four people, a
childless couple and two homeless children, who came together that day on a dusty railroad platform was unique but
familiar in the early days of Oklahoma.
[Narrator 2:]They came to Oklahoma from many nations. Newcomers to a new land, looking for better opportunities,
a chance to begin again and what remains is their heritage. A rich heritage, that has become the Oklahoma image.
[Narrator 1:] The remarkable story of these homeless children and this childless couple has two beginnings. The
first story begins in 1852 in New York City where thousands of new immigrants poured daily into an overcrowded
city. Many abandoned children were wandering the streets, sleeping where they could, eating anything they could
find. A man who cared, Charles Loring Brace, founded the Children's Aid Society and began to send those abandoned
children to homes in the West.
[Narrator 1:] During a 50 year period, 1854 to 1904, more than 100,000 children would go west on what came to be
called the Orphan Train. At least 50 of these children came to the Twin Territories. [Sound of train
accelerating] The Foundling Hospital in New York City continued placing children in homes by way of the Orphan
Train for at least another fifteen years. Two of those children were Irene and Aloise who made the journey in 1911
to the town of Canute, Oklahoma. Little could these children know that a man and woman would become their loving
[Narrator 1:] The story of that man and woman begins in Minnesota with a German couple, Clem and Anna
Scheidemental. Clem and Anna had many dreams about their life together. More than anything else, they wanted to
own their own farm someday where they could raise a large family. Many years pass and neither part of that dream
was realized. Then in 1902, Clem heard about the many oppurtunites and the abundance of land in Oklahoma
Territory. He and his brother jumped at the chance to obtain a charter to open a First State Bank in Oklahoma
Territory, in the small town of Canute.
[Narrator 1:] In 1909, two years after statehood, Clem and Anna moved near Canute where they purchased their own
farm. Part of their dream was now fulfilled but something important was lacking, a family, a void that had always
caused sadness. But, in 1911, Clem and Anna heard about the Orphan Train that was bringing children west. The
Scheidementals talked about this and decided to adopt two of those children to love and care for.
[sound of train approaching]
[Narrator 1:] That day, in 1911, the train neared Canute and Clem and Anna walked hurriedly to meet it. From the
railroad platform they picked little Irene and Aloise and took them home to be part of their family. This is a
story that was repeated many times in the history of our state and the stories ended happily as these children
became part of the early families that settled in Oklahoma.
[Narrator 2:] This program was produced by the Oklahoma Image Project, funded by the National Endowment for the
Humanities and brought to you as a public service by this station. Oklahoma Image is sponsored by the Oklahoma
Department of Libraries and the Oklahoma Library Association.
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Part of the Oklahoma Image Statewide Humanities Project, promoting Newcomers to a New Land book series and the Oklahoma Image Project.
Copyright of this digital resource, Oklahoma Department of Libraries, 2008. For further information regarding use please consult the Rights and Permissions page, http://www.crossroads.odl.state.ok.us/shell/rights.php or contact the holding institution of the digital resource.
Oklahoma Department of Libraries, 200 N.E. 18th, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105