South Bend Area Genealogical Society
"Serving South Bend, Mishawaka and Surrounding Areas"
Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library
209 Lincoln Way E
Mishawaka, IN 46544
Orphan Train Index


During the Orphan Train movement from 1853 to 1929, an estimated 250,000 children were sent by train from large urban areas in the East to all 48 continental states. Information shows that orphans were brought to Mishawaka/South Bend by Catholic charities such as the New York Foundling Asylum and New York Home Bureau for Dependent Children. We have also found information on Orphan trains to Elkhart County sponsored by the New York Childrenís Aid Society and Bostonís Baldwin Place Mission/Home for Little Wanders. Please see the South Bend Area Genealogical Society Quarterly (January 2016 and April 2016 issues) for additional historical background. (Located in the Member Only section).

We are grateful for information provided by descendants of orphan train riders. Research using contemporary newspapers (Goshen Daily news, Elkhart Review, South Bend Tribune, South Bend Daily Times) and United States census records for St Joseph and Elkhart Counties provided additional names of orphans and the families that accepted them.

Information may be searched by orphan birth surname (if known) or by adoptive/foster surname. Many children used the name of the family they were placed with as children, but not all were formally adopted. Given names could also be changed, especially for children placed as infants or young children. Some reverted to their birth names at a later time. We suggest you search both files.

Every effort was made to be as complete and accurate as possible but any database may contain unintentional errors. Please send any corrections or additional information to SBAGS




View the Index sorted by Birth Surname:
View by Birth Surname

View the Index sorted by Foster Surname:
View by Foster Surname

View a sample Adoption Notification Letter:
View Letter




Additional Sources

Indiana Orphan Train Project

PBS - "The Orphan Trains" Program

Children's Aid Society - "The Orphan Trains"

Iowa GenWeb Project - "Orphan Train Riders to Iowa"

Nebraska GenWeb Project - "Orphan Trains to Nebraska"




Related Links

Mishawaka's Orphan Home

St. Joseph County Indiana, Index to Adoption Records

1908 - 1927 Index to Superior Court Adoption Records of St. Joseph County, Indiana



Email Us
© 1997-2016 South Bend Area Genealogical Society
Webmaster