In the late 1800’s, it was the practice of the New York Children’s Aid Society to round up homeless children from the streets, and send them west on the train to be distributed to farmers. Sometimes the children ended up in good homes, in other cases they were chosen just for their ability to serve as free labor. Children’s Home Societies were created in towns along the railroad to protect the “orphan train” children from abuse and neglect and provide them with good homes.
The North Dakota Children’s Home Society was organized as a branch of the Minnesota Society by Rev. E.P. Savage, and the first Superintendent, Rev. C.J. McConnehey, arrived in Fargo in November 1891. His mandate was to “act as friend and protector to homeless, neglected and destitute children—both children arriving on the orphan trains and those from across the state of North Dakota whose families could no longer care for them.
As the only project of its kind in the Dakota territory, the original North Dakota Children’s Home Society focused on the maintenance of an active and flourishing orphanage and through the provision of foster care and adoption.¹ In 1895, Rev. McConnehey resigned his position in order to move further into the new frontier and establish the Montana Children’s Home and Aid Society. In 1897, under the new leadership of Baptist Minister B.H. Brasted, the society was officially incorporated as the North Dakota Children’s Home Society, and eventually a permanent “temporary home” was built at 804 10th Street in Fargo.
The arrival of a new Children’s Home superintendent in 1902, Frank “Daddy” Hall, initiated a period of great energy, growth, and change. According to the Grand Forks “Evening Times,” by 1907, the society had “received and provided for 740 children from all sections of the state.”²
As superintendent, Hall participated in the first White House Conference for Dependent Children in 1909, fought vigorously for the Mother’s Pension Law in 1915, and in 1923 was a member of North Dakota’s Children’s Code Commission. Through these events and other activities, Hall influenced significant legislation for the protection of children. Frank Hall led the Society for 24 years, before ill health resulted in his resignation from the position.³ The society continued its work as an orphanage and in 1957, having outgrown its facilities, moved to a new building at 1721 South University Drive, Fargo. At the same time the name was changed to Children’s Village. Due to rapid changes in our society and a decreasing need for orphanages, the board of directors voted to terminate the institutional child care program (orphanage) in 1968. In 1972, the name of the organization was again changed–to The Village Family Service Center–the name it still goes by today.
¹“A Legacy of Love,” publication of The Village Family Service Center, Fargo, N.D., December, 1990.
²”Evening Times,” Grand Forks, N.D., August 1, 1907.
³”A Legacy of Love,” publication of The Village Family Service Center, Fargo, N.D., December, 1990.
-Tammy Noteboom, Digital History 2013
Are the names and ages of orphaned children from the 1920s still in existence? I am pretty certain my father–now deceased–was adopted from the Children’s Home in 1922 or 1923. The adoptive parents were Harry and Martha Meachen. I am traveling to Fargo in August and would like to stop by the Village Family Service Center
I am looking for information on James Raymond Armstrong who was given up for adoption on March 5, 1906. He was born October 28, 1905. His mother was Fannie Maud Armstrong and his father was Benjamin Woodward ( a Canadian ). My roots are Canadian but I have North Dakota blood in me. I am trying to find my American lineage. He was adopted by John F. Morrison and E. Theresa Morrison. The adoption application is dated March 15, 1906. Any information available would be helpful.
James Raymond Armstrong was my grandfather…Keith is my Dad. I have info on the Armstrongs and Woodwards. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi I am basically trying Recover information about my dad. He had 4 other bother and sisters. This situation may have happen in 1944. Not really sure. My father’s name at the time was Joseph Clifford Longie. At the time of his adoption became Clifford Leroy Reeves. He had 2 brothers and 2 sisters. I am pretty sure on this. Please do what you can do for all the actual information that I may need this in my heart. Thank you
I lived at Children’s Village (1721 South University Ave., Fargo, ND) from October 1964 to June 1966 when I graduated from Fargo Central HS (the tear that Fargo Central HS burned to the ground. I finished my senior year at Fargo South.). Is there any historical information of Children’s Vilage from that time period. I just watched a youtube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPjlYPTbgy4 of a circa 1960 incarnation of Children;s village. About the only thing I recognized was the home at Lake Pelican which I stayed at over the summer of 1965. Lila Clow was the director of the Village when I was there. I can remember a number of the names of other children there at the time. I guess this is a bit of nostalgia but it was a turning point in my life. Chuck( now Charlie ) Rykken Waianae, HI
We were classmates at Fargo Central High— both into Ayn Rand
My family has been looking for my Grandfather’s Birth Family for years.
His name with Adopted last name: JAMES EDWARD GEE.
He was on an Orphan Train at around age 2- years (1900+/-), out of Brooklyn, NY where he was born (August 29, 1897 or 1898), and I think his Adopted parents- – Jay Edgar Gee and Agnes (Egan) Gee- – either picked him up from Golva North Dakota and adopted him there or they took him somewhere else and adopted him.
I don’t know if the Orphan Train people actually set up the adoptions or the parents went through local courts.
My Mother’s Maiden name is GEE, and James E. Gee was her father.
I am trying to get my fathers birth certificate. I know he lived in North Dakota and he was in an orphanage. his name was James Arthur Lilly and he was born in 1912- 1914. I could use some help anyone who knows the name. Please contact me. Anna Mc Clure
My grand father was on the orphan train in the late 1800s brought to Kenmare ND his father was Mike Wagner and his mother Marie Desjardin. My fathers name was James Wagner. I know they lived in Pembina county and My grandfather was cash rented out. Just looking for any Wagners that are looking for family members who rode the same train
My father was William James Camp. His adoptive parents, Oscar and Jennie Camp, owned the private Camp Maternity Hospital at 901-10th Street in Fargo. Many babies were born there in the early 1900’s. I have searched and can find nothing on the Camp hospital, is it because it was privately owned?
Patty, my father was born at Th Camp Maternity Hospital in 1919. I have the actual invoice for the birth and hospital stay, signed by Jennie. A stay of 11 days and the total bill was $32.65!! I also have a photo of the home currently. If you give me your email I can send both to you!
I just saw this here. That is really awesome. I live in Fargo so I do have pics of the place, now owned by a doctor here.
Thanks so much!
From 1975 A Century Together… a history of F-M.
“A maternity home was established in 1905 by Mr. Oscar S. Camp and his wife, Jennie, at 901 South Tenth
Street. The maternity home also served as the Camps’ residence after it was built in 1897, about two years after the Camps moved to Fargo from
Lisbon. It existed as a maternity home until there was adequate space for
maternity patients in local hospitals.
It was then converted to a home for aged ladies, which it remains today.
Miss Bertha Camp, the Camps’
daughter, operates the home in the original structure which has had many later additions.
Mr. and Mrs. O. S. Camp
I was born at the Camp Maternity Hospital April 21, 1934. My birth certificate shows the attending physician as Dr Arthur Morris with offices at 608 Front Street, Fargo, ND. The Camp Maternity Hospital was located at 901 10th Street, Fargo, ND. It was a 12 bed private hospital owned by a Mrs Camp.
Violet Lillian Rossin born 15 Sep 1904.
Is there a list of the children in the North Dakota Children’s Home, Fargo, Cass Co, North Dakota prior to 1930? Violet Lillian Rossin was listed as being in the North Dakota Children’s Home, Fargo, North Dakota in 1915. She was part of a large family (10 children). I would like to find out if any of her brothers or sisters were also in the home. The 1920 Census only lists 3 children living with with their parents. How do I find more information about Violet’s stay?
I am looking for information about Joseph Fox Armstrong who was born in North Dakota in 1906-7 and was an orphan Not sure if Armstrong was his birth name or name of family who took him in or adopted him. Wondered if he would have come through the home?
Either birth parents or ‘adiptive’ Parents might have been James H Armstrong and Lucy E Armstrong
I was at the orphanage from August 1947 to November 1947. I believe my given name was Jerry Lee Richardson. I was adopted by Ruth and Arthur Johnson, Ryder North Dakota. If any other information about my birth parents would be appreciated.