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Orphan Train Riders to Iowa  Orphan Train Riders

Sister Mary Rita

(Evelyn Cavanaugh)


The famous Orphan Trains which brought children to St. Patrick's Parish were a project of the Children's Aid Society.  The farm families were always given adequate notice so that many people would be waiting for the trains to come in.  In Neola's St. Patrick's Parish, the children were taken to the convent from the train depot.  The following Sunday they were taken to Mass by the Sisters.  After Mass, Father M. T. Schiffmacher would lineup the children in front of the Communion rail.  He would select a child for a family, and the parents are responsible for making the child a welcomed and loved member of the family.


Among the orphans who became part of the St. Patrick's Parish in Neola, Pottawattamie Co., Iowa were: Evelyn Cavanaugh (later Sister Mary Rita of Sisters of St. Benedict), Ida Sweeney (Parks), Theodore Dunn, Teddy McGinty, Velma Henley (reared by Young family), Charlie Stephany, Ethel King, and Eugene Raymond.  Their lives were a testament to the generosity and goodwill of St. Patrick's Parish families.




Hubert Cavanaugh Family


Harry Costello came from Ireland in 1871.  He was married to Mary Ryan.  They told of the number of people dying on the voyage from their native land.  Mary Ann was nine months old when they arrived.  They had six other children besides Mary Ann (Costello) Cavanaugh, Margaret Costello, Julia Costello Corrin, Nell Costello Hannan, Catherine Costello Ring, Thomas and Henry Costello.  Henry is still living in Denver.


Mary Ann married Hubert Cavanaugh and lived in the Carson area where their oldest daughter, Mary Cavanaugh and come all was baptized.  They moved her Joseph Fischer now lives, building all the buildings after the tornado took them in the early 1900's.


When the "Orphan Train" went through Neola, Grandpa Cavanaugh, hoping to get a ploy to help to the farm, came home with a little red -- haired girl called Evelyn, this gave them Mary Hummel, Kathryn Ruth (Fischer), Lucille (Decker), Loretto (Denning) and Robert Cavanaugh.  At the age of 15, Evelyn joined that Sisters of St. Benedict.  She died at Rapid City, South Dakota in 1978.  Her memorials were some of the first money used to start the St. Joseph's School fund.


Grandpa Cavanaugh told of healthy collect money to build the new St. Joseph School in Neola and how hard the times were.  Catherine Hobbins came to live with the Announced after her mother died; and in 1922, when Grandpa Cavanaugh passed away, she went to live with William and Loretto Cavanaugh Denning.


Grandma Cavanaugh took care of freight Cavanaugh's five children when their mother died after giving birth to twins.  She moved to Denver only to come back to Neola to care for the Joseph Fischer children when her own daughter, Ruth Fischer, died in 1942.


Grandmother Cavanaugh died in the Convent of the Good Shepherd in Denver at the age of ninety-five.