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Charles Zinsmeister, Orphan Train Rider

Charles Zinsmeister was sent to Illinois in 1886 and placed in Woodside, IL. Charles was regretful that he had not met any of the boys he had known at the asylum since leaving and still hoped to meet one of them. Apparently another asylum alumnus had suggested that the past residents wear a badge that would identify them to each other. Charles endorsed that idea. I would assume they meant this to be a secret badge, so that no one else would know they were orphan boys. The stigma attached to being from a juvenile asylum was strong and many orphan train riders never spoke of their status even to their family members.

Charles was married and his wife's name was Leona. They had two children: Lyndell and Marian. Charles held a wide variety of jobs. He clerked in stores, was a traveling salesman, a grain buyer and when he died on November 13, 1935 his death certificate gave his occupation as parole officer. In 1902 he was charged with selling hop ale without a license in Woodside, IL. At that time he was working as the assistant postmaster. Unfortunately he ran into other legal troubles, as shown in the clipping from October 4, 1915.

Charles was one of a very select group of OTRs -- he pursued an education beyond the eighth grade and even attended the Springfield Business College, which prepared him for a wide variety of jobs.

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