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Oliver M. Smith, Orphan Train Rider

Oliver M. Smith 1872 - 1951

Oliver was sent to Illinois in 1882 and in 1900 he was still living in Ogle County on a rented farm with his wife Addie McAlnay and two sons, George and Elmer. In 1910 the Smith family moved to Black Hawk County, Iowa and in 1920 to Buchanan County, Iowa. Oliver died and was buried with Addie in Buchanan County, Iowa. His obituary from The Courier (Waterloo, IA) reported that he was a prominent real estate broker and insurance man in Independence, Iowa.

The marriage record (Ogle County, 1892) for Oliver and Addie recorded the names of Oliver's parents -- J H Smith and Carol Tell. According to the census records J H Smith was born in the United States and Carol Tell was from Ireland. His obituary supplied different names!

In 1910 Oliver wrote another letter to the Asylum. He was living in Waterloo, Iowa and farming his own land -- 160 acres. He asked for the given names of his parents and his age at the time of his surrender at the asylum. Apparently, although he had supplied names for his parents when he married Addie McAlnay, in later life he was less sure of this information.

Although Oliver expressed gratitude for his Christian home and he was a successful businessman, his education was limited to just four months of schooling each year by his guardian's report in 1887. Mr. Trump said of Oliver: " His conduct is better, and he is more easy to control, and he is more truthful than at first." I always wonder how the guardians measured truthfulness. Did they trap the children in lies or grill them about their work each day?


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