Forgetting Tabitha: The Story of an Orphan Train Rider
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"Raised on a farm outside of Westchester County, Tabitha Salt, the daughter of Irish immigrants, leads a sheltered existence. When tragedy strikes the family, the ten year old and her mother are forced to move to the notorious Five Points District in New York City. Known for its brothels, gangs, gambling halls, corrupt politicians, and thieves, the Five Points is a chaotic slum. The women find work as laundresses, struggling every day to survive in their squalid living conditions.
When tragedy strikes again, Tabitha finds herself on the streets of New York City, alone. Summoning her courage and willing her legs that are numb with fear and grief to move, she takes to a life on the streets. Stealing food and running from the law, Tabitha dreams of the future.
During this time the Sisters of Charity were plucking orphans off the streets with promises of a new life. Children were told to forget their pasts, including their religious beliefs, families, and names. They were to become Christian and were given new identities, only then could they board the orphan trains. The orphan trains carried the destitute children out west in search of new homes. Siblings were often ripped apart and many didn’t find homes but became indentured workers in exchange for room and board.
The looming decision would alter her life course; boarding the train meant leaving everything and everyone she knew behind. Vulnerable and afraid she made her decision.
The story is a true to life chronicle reflecting the saga of hundreds of thousands of homeless or neglected children who were placed on orphan trains from 1854 to 1929. The orphan train movement led to numerous reforms having to do with welfare and child labor laws. Many people believe it is the origin of modern foster care."
that went off to the side. She reached for him, bringing him toward the bed, making him forget all about me. Before long he was moaning and groaning and she was saying, “Yes, that’s right, ooooh you like that don’t you.” She disappeared under the covers for a moment and never wiped her mouth when she came back up. She stared into the man’s eyes and dared him to do anything but think of her. She let him think he was in control, but she and I both new she had him right where she wanted him. The
English and he explained that his mother was an immigrant who lost her entire family during her passage to America. She married the first man who showed her any kindness when she landed, that man was his father. Scotty’s father would come home drunk and beat his mother regularly, always reaching out to whack a kid, too. Scotty did his best to shield and protect the younger ones, and often took the brunt of his father’s vengeance on himself. It was a sorry situation, he never felt love within this
and thick. Sure enough it was crap from one of the vile boys and I was never so repulsed. I told my mama this the next day and she nodded in acknowledgment and scrubbed at the stains she was laundering even harder than normal. We had to wash our laundry in our kitchen basins and hang our clothing out to dry where they would soak in the stench from the filth filling the streets. Several of Mrs. Canter’s lads were being recruited by the Gangs already. But it was Liam her five year old, the one
it’s about time I get on my own two feet and start a life anyway I just don’t know where to begin.” “Has Edmund been to see you yet?” Edna asked. “No, Sarah suggested we wait a bit longer.” “Edmund is your very good friend. I know you don’t remember anything, but perhaps he will be able to help. We have kept him away until you healed a bit more. He was one of the people that found you and it was quite distressing for him.” “Oh, I see. I should think I would like to meet this Edmund, why yes,
lifetime. We were destined to meet under our stoop and forge a friendship that would last as long as it has. He is my dearest confidant, most trusted companion and he never fails to make me laugh. We don’t have much in the way of material goods, but we have each other and the farm, and for us this is all that matters. Our children understand that we view things a tad differently than other town folks; we aren’t any better or worse, just different. We prioritize family above all else, and have a