Historical Note (by the author):
"The summer of 1973 I took my mother...to the centennial of Dysart, Iowa, the small town where she was born. There I met her old friend, Ben Pippert, whose personal history was highly unusual. He had been one of a group of very young children who had arrived in Dysart by train on a wintry day in 1894. They had been herded off the train and into the town hall to be put up for adoption by anyone who would have them. He was one of the ones chosen. The remaining children were put back on the train to try again in another town along the route.
U was fascinated by his story and in particular by the phenomenon of the 'orphan train.' Two years of research followed, during which the little known, remarkable story of the Children's Aid Society came to light. Over a fifty-year period, between the years 1854 and 1904, the society sent out more than 100,000 homeless New York street children by trains to towns and farms in rural areas across America."