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Orphan Train Riders to Iowa  Orphan Train Riders
~ Des Moines County~

The Evening Gazette
Burlington, Iowa
19 October 1898
Little Waifs From the New York Juvenile Asylum Find Homes.
A Great Demand for Girls, but They are Rather Scarce-Applicants for Children are Mainly Farmers.
There was an increase in the population of Burlington and surrounding county today, although it was not brought about through the ordinary channels.

Mr. J. W. Shields, with a bunch of children from the New York Juvenile Asylum, was mainly instrumental in the event. Mr. Shields is a pleasant, fatherly-looking gentleman, and he had his charges on exhibition in the sample room at the Union Hotel, where a Gazette reporter found him this morning being eagerly interviewed by a throng of people anxious to secure possession of a child. He came direct from New York to Burlington with the children, nine in number. Two of whom were girls.

I do not have any trouble in disposing of the girls". Said Mr. Shields. "There is twice the demand for them that there is for boys, although I cannot say that I have any difficulty in disposing of the boys, but the general desire of people who take children to raise seemed to tend towards the girls, principally because they are so much easier to manage than children of the other sex. My applicants in a great majority of cases so far have been farmers, and it is the policy of the institution as far as possible to place the boys on farms rather than in city homes for very obvious reasons.

The two girls Mr. Shields brought with him were taken away early in the day, and the boys were all spoken for, two of them having been removed to their new homes. The lads range from eight to twelve years of age, and are bright, interesting little chaps. They laughed and chatted, and "kidded" each other, never paying the slightest attention to the crowd standing around who were discussing their merits and de-merits like they would so many cattle they intended to purchase.

Invariably when the boys were asked whether they would rather live in the city or in the country they answered in the affirmative in the former, although they seemed perfectly willing to go any place. While they were scrupulously polite and modest when answering questions put to them by older people, a slang word or phrase as the absence of the "th" sound was discernable when talking among themselves. Two of the little fellows were giving vent to their exuberance in a wrestling match when the youngster who went down first called out to the one, who had accidentally kicked him in the head, "Say Billy, 'taint fair to kick a man in de nut like dat," but as far as could be seen there was no viciousness in their natures nor did they utter one improper word while scuffling.

It's a curious fact, but everybody who goes to pick out a child imagines that he or she is an advanced student of human nature, and no two persons have the same ideas on the subject. It is not a question of good looks so much as what they think of the child's disposition that influences the selection.

I want that boy because he has his hair combed," said one lady, pointing to a lad who stood to one side and took no part in his companions' conversation. "I'm sure he is a good little boy, and don't appear half so rough as the rest." She filled out the necessary papers and took the child away.

The most mischievous boy in the crowd, a little brown-eyed round faced urchin, was picked out by a young couple from Carthage. "He will be able to do all the chores in a short time", said the young man as he led his charge out of the room

The children with Mr. Shields are of German descent, and with one exception have brown eyes. They all know how to sing and are as far advanced in learning as other children of their age. They are attired warmly and comfortably, and when bound out each one is given a small bible. Particular stress is placed on the surroundings and the child's future moral welfare as will be seen in the circular below.

The New York Juvenile Asylum last year had over 5,000 inmates, and of this number there were only some 500 about whose parents nothing was known. It is a charitable institution, supported mainly from contributions, and the children received are for the most part waifs, whose parents have died without leaving any means of support for the, children who have been picked up by the police or ones who will not attend school. They are received between the ages of 8 and 14 years. No cash guarantee is required from persons who adopt the little ones. Taking it all the way through, it is a grand and noble work, and Mr. Shields states there have been but few cases where children have failed to give satisfaction and be a credit to their foster parents. He is on the road continually, and the asylum is represented in all parts of the country.

The conditions upon which the children are placed out are as follows:
1. The children will be placed on trial for several weeks.

11. At the end of the trial period the agent will meet the parties at a place designated, and in case they are disposed to assume the specified obligations, a written contract will be executed.

111. the agreement will provide: (1) that the child will be cared for until it is eighteen years of age, both in sickness and in health, with proper medical treatment, food and clothing: (2) instructed in some business: (3) sent to school four months in each year until it has advanced through compound interest: (4) trained in moral and religious precepts and habits: (5) paid in money at the expiration of the agreement, fifty dollars($50), one new outfit of clothing and a bible.

1V. Each guardian will be required to make a written report concerning his ward, semi-annually, to the agent, in reference to health, conduct, attendance at school, and advancement in the several branches of study: also to notify the agent in case of desertion.

V. In case a ward should desert his guardian without sufficient reason, all claims against the guardian would be forfeited, and after duly notified the agent in such case the guardian will be free from all subsequent liabilities on account of such ward.

VI. It is understood that if a guardian shall become dissatisfied with his ward, or if for any other reason he shall desire to be relieved from further charge of his ward, he may make a written application to the agent for such release, stating the reason for such request, and the agent is authorized to make a settlement with such guardian on reasonable terms and resume charge of the child. The cost of removal in such cases must be born by the guardian.

Signed Date
Agent Date