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Orphan Train Riders to Iowa Orphan Train Riders
~ Edward Risberg ~
 26 May 1904 - August 1980
December 1987
The Orphan Train children who came to Rock Rapids, additional information:

By Nadene Pettengill

My first knowledge that there were residents of the county that had come to the midwest as part of an orphan train resulted after a call from a research person in Ohio. She stated that she was employed to follow-up on individuals who had participated in this project with the possibility that a follow-up program would be filmed after the success of the TV show on the orphan trains. I had no information for her but subsequent inquiries revealed that Mary Risberg, recently deceased, and her brother had been brought here on one of the trains. Through the years additional bits and pieces of information have been told to me.

While their father who was a Swedish national made a living as a seaman, they lived with their mother in New York. When their mother died, their father provided for them and they lived in the Seamen's Orphanage. The were both quite young when their mother died "of fever". Their father was also dead when they were brought on the train. It may have been because he no longer paid for their care but I think it was because the orphanage closed that the youngsters were destitute.

The children were brought to communities where families had previously expressed an interest in adopting some of them. Apparently, there was even some previous selections of individual children by a particular family because, as I heard the story, the family that had picked Mary did not want Edward so she refused to go with them. The children were paraded in front of the audience, as the new story states, the Ravelings were present but they had not decided whether they wanted to take a child. There were attracted to Mary and eventually took both her and Edward as described.

Edward and his new father had problems from the beginning. Hans was strict and expected obedience. Edward had never had a strong father figure in his formative years. The statement that he left home when he was fourteen is incorrect. He was that age when he came to live with the Ravelings. He was about eighteen when he left home, attending high school here first although I was told he dropped out before graduating.

His job as a die maker was a good one but he was not good at managing money and he drank. He was eking out an existence in a flop house when social workers stepped in and arranged for his removal to the Indian Hills Care Center in Sioux City. Hans Raveling felt very bitter toward him and Edward was not included in his will but Mrs. Raveling named him as an heir along with Mary and when Mary died she left her meager estate to him and provided for his internment at Riverview Cemetery when he died. It was when these resources were exhausted that he became a ward of the county.

The services held when he was interred there were not unattended -- a number of former classmates paid their last respects.

There was tragedy in Mary's life too. Many a farm girl found a husband among the itinerate farm hands who came to the area at harvest time. Mary accepted the proposal of a man who came to work for the Ravelings. They married here and she left with him only to return a few years later. She had learned it was a bigamist marriage. Her spouse had a wife and family elsewhere.

As far as I have been able to determine, there were about a dozen children in the group that were brought to Rock Rapids, the family that originally requested that the train stop here did not take a child (their name is unknown) and apparently all of the other children in the group were placed elsewhere.