|ORPHAN TRAIN RIDERS OF NEW YORK (MIDWEST)
Minnesota adoption history dates to 1800's.
By Amy Brown
Updated: 6/06/2010 10:56:16 PM CDT
Minnesota has a long history of adopting children.
And Sister Justina Bieganek, a Franciscan nun in Little Falls, might be on the state's first adopters.
Experts contend Minnesota's acceptance of adoption may have started between 1854-1929 when orphan trains brought
children from the East Coast to adoptive families across the United States.
"It's a great history of caring and compassion," said Kjersti Olson, director of international adoptions for the Children's Home
Society and Family Services in St. Paul.
According to the National Orphan Train Complex, a museum and research center in Kansas, about 200,000 orphaned,
abandoned and homeless children were placed in 47 states and Canada.
The National Orphan Train Complex reported the Children's Aid Foundation placed 3.258 children in Minnesota between
1854-1910. Several other agencies also placed children, but those numbers were not given.
Bieganek, a gracious 98 year old, flipped through one of many scrapbooks she keeps. She was born in New York City, and
was placed with an Avon family at age 2 in 1913. Bieganek helps organize annual orphan train reunions in Little Falls. She
will host the next reunion Oct 2, 2010.
"Minnesota is a good farming area," Bieganek said. "A lot of our friends were sent to Minnesota so they could work on the
Bieganek's adoptive parents, Mary and John Bieganek, decided to adopt after hearing about the orphans from their church.
They requested a blonde-haired, blue eyed 2 year old girl.
"It was like ordering from a catalog," Bieganek said. "That's what we got."
Before leaving for her new home, Bieganek had the number 41 sewn onto her clothes. That number matched the receipt
given to her adoptive father and allowed children to be paired with their new families.
Bieganek remembered meeting her father.
"He was to happy," she said. "He squeezed me. The love of that man never faded. He was the kindest man I had ever met."
Bieganek had a good family, she said. She was raised by her bother and sister-in-law after her mother died and father
Bieganek's family never discussed the adoption. She learned about her birth background in 1969. She visited the New York
Foundling Hospital, which placed her, and spent hours scanning microfilm. She found a copy of her birth certificate with her
birth name, Edith Peterson.
She learned a little about her birth family. Her father died six months before she was born. Her mother was a Norwegian
immigrant, and Bieganek has one birth sibling, whom she knows nothing about.
"That was a tremendous feeling," Bieganek said about finding information. "This was me. It's kind of like your birth, your
origin. It is important to me."
John G Brady
AKA John Green Brady
Birthplace: New York City
Location of death: Sitka, AK
Cause of death: Stroke
Remains: Buried, Sitka National
Cemetery, Sitka, AK
Race of Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Territorial
Governor of Alaska 1897-1906
Wife: Elizabeth Jan Patton (m. 1887, three sons, two daughters)
Daughter: Elizabeth P Brady
Son: Hugh P Brady
Son: John Green Brady, Jr.
Daughter: Mary Anna Brady
Son: Sheldon Jackson Brady'
University: Yale University (1874)
Brady, John Green
Missionary, businessman, and territorial governor of Alaska
Brady was born in New York. His mother died when he was very young.
His father remarried, but Brady seems to have been unhappy with his
step-mother, and he ran away from home when he was eight, living on the
streets until he was sent to a children's home, and in 1858 he was sent on
the Orphan Train to Indiana, where he was adopted by a local judge named
John Gren. With him on the same train was Andrew Burke, who became
his good fried and was later governor of North Dakota.
After reaching adulthood and graduating from Yale in 1874, Brady became
a Presbyterian minister and was one of that denomination's first pastors in
Alaska (1878), where he also established a school for Native Alaskan
children. He left ministry and became active in the logging industry. He
was appointed territorial governor in 1897 and continued to press for Native
Alaskan civil rights, but he resigned in 1906 after critical enquiry into his
involvement with the Reynolds-Alaska Development Company fraud
(he was later exonerated) He had diabetes
EX-GOV. JOHN G. BRADY DIES
Once a New York Waif, he was Alaska' Executive for Three Terms
John G Brady, former Governor of Alaska, died Tuesday night at his home in
Sitka, Alaska, according to word received here yesterday by the Children's Aid
Society, of which he was a former ward. He had been ill from diabetes since
While Governor of Alaska he visited New York, the home of his childhood,
and at dinner at the Waldor-Astoria, he referred to the time when he was a
waif and an outcast in the slums of New York. The man who was then
Governor of 570,000 square miles of territory was born in squalor in the
lower end of Roosevelt Street. His father was a drunken longshoreman, and
his mother died when he was a child.
At the age of 8 he had sold newspapers, shined shoes, run errands, carried
satchels to the steamboat docs and haunted the East River water front in the
hope of picking up an odd job now and then. "Johnny" often slept curled up
in a box or in some dark corner in Chatham Square. One night he was
picked up by a policeman and was sent with a boatload of other waifs to
Randall's Island. In the summer of 1859 The Children's Aid Society
arranged to send a large number of boys to the West, and among them were
"Johnny" and a lad named Burke. Andrew Burke later became Governor of
Johnny Brady was consigned to the home of John Green, a leading lawyer of
Tipton, Ind., where he remained until 1867, and then taught school, having
been educated by his foster father.
In 1870 he went to Yale, where he graduated in 1874, when he entered
Union Seminary. After being ordained to the ministry he went as a
missionary to Alaska. In 1897 he was appointed Governor of the Territory by
President McKinley and was reappointed by President Roosevelt, serving in
all three terms.
The New York Times
Published: December 19, 1918
Copyright: The New York Times
65 ORPHANS FROM THE EAST
(orphan train OFT, 1-28-1914)
Car of Children arrive Wednesday and will be
given good homes in this section.
Sixty five orphans, direct from the Sisters of
Charity Orphan Asylum, 175 E 68th Street
New York City, arrived in St Cloud this
afternoon over the Northern Pacific at 1:19
PM . The orphans who were in charge of
Sisters and nurses from the institution were
in a special car sent out from New York
without charge of a total number of 25 will be
assigned to families at St Cloud, Avon, Cold
Springs, Richmond , Sauk Centre, and
Paynesville, and the others will be divided
among families at Foley, Clear Lake,
Royalton, Staples and Wadena. After those
assigned to St Cloud and surrounding points
had been taken off there, their car brought to
Little Falls on No. 5 and five of the children
were taken here. Parties from North Praire
took some of the babies and one boy was
taken by B Fietsam of Royalton. Misses
Georgina Utsch and Edleen Carnes
accompanied Miss Imelda Fietsam here to
receive him and they returned to Royalton
with the boy this afternoon. The car was not
detached from NO. 5 and will proceed
westward to points in MN and Dakota. Mr
McFeely of the New York Institution was in
charge of the car.