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Annie, Emil, Margaret & Ottilile Schultz, Orphan Train Riders

Annie E. wrote a long letter to the Asylum in 1893. Her letter has an underlying tone of sadness in it. She was not happy in Illinois, but she knew there was nothing for her in New York. She was grateful for the letter of advice she had received from the Asylum, but wanted a clearer definition of "contentment." She had a goal in life -- to teach -- but apparently she was not receiving enough time at school to make that possible, in her view. Annie was apparently advised to find contentment in some aspect of her life in that letter, but she disliked housework and longed to hear from her brother. This photo found on a family tree page gives me hope that Annie saw her brother again.

Annie and Emil's father was Fritz, a painter in New York. The family was together in 1880, but records obtained by the family genealogist indicate that Emil was admitted to the NYJA in March of 1885 by his father for continued truancy. Two years later, Emil was sent to Illinois where he was placed with the Hartman family in Manlius, Bureau County. He served out his indenture for 7 years and was released. A letter from a Hartman family member to the Schultz genealogist said that Emil left the family after his release from indenture, but returned after finding times hard and lived with them again. Emil was not known to have married until 1922, when he was 48 years old. He married Johanna Isaacson in Kenwood Park, Iowa. He died in 1961, and just days after his death, a letter from the Hartman family reached the home where he had lived.

Annie was admitted to the NYJA later in 1885, after the death of her mother, Ottilile. Annie was sent west two years later. She was placed with the William P. Warren family in Baker, Lasalle County, Illinois. Annie was always asking for advice. In her first letter to the asylum in 1890 she confessed that she was "a very trying child, and I have a habit of answering back." She asked how she might correct this bad habit. She also reported that her weight of 81 pounds on her arrival had increased to 102 pounds! Annie was apparently being well fed. She lived with an elderly couple, and was probably looking after the wife, who was very sickly according to her letter in 1892. In that letter Annie asked for the addresses for her sisters, Katie (Ottilile?) and two friends from the asylum. After serving out her indenture, Annie returned to New York, where in 1920 she was living with a sister, Agnes. Annie was a graduate nurse, meaning she had received a college degree in nursing. She had at least fulfilled her desire for an education. Annie died in 1963, never having married.

A third Schultz child entered the NYJA just two months after Annie went west (in 1887). Margaret Schultz (10 yo) was sent to Lostant, Illinois, in 1889, but in 1891, she was removed due to unfavorable reports. We shouldn't conclude that Margaret was a troublesome child, because measuring up to the requirements of a 19th century family was not an easy task. Margaret probably lived in a state of complete uncertainty -- her mother died in 1885, her siblings were removed from the home and then she too was left at the large, stone edifice of the asylum. Records indicate that Margaret lived with her first guardian for just three months and her second only eight months.

In 1891 Margaret lived in three different homes in three different counties. She was finally released from her indenture in July, 1899 in Cabery, Ford County, where she had lived with the Keyes family. She married Emaziah Cluff in June of 1900 and two months later had her first son. After losing the protection of the Keyes family she had apparently either fallen in love and anticipated her marriage vows, or had been seduced. Regardless, the Cluffs went on to have a large family of twelve children in Minnesota and had a long marriage. Several children did not survive childhood but Harry, Ada, Roy, Alfred, Ernest, Myrtle, Violet and Dorothy all grew to be adults.

Yet another Schultz child was surrendered at the NYJA in 1887, just a month after Margaret Schultz was surrendered. Ottilile Schultz was also sent West in 1889, and also suffered many rejections once in Illinois. NYJA records showed that she was in nine different homes (five different counties) during the nine years she was in Illinois. Like her sister Annie, Ottilile took the first train east when she was released from her indenture. She lived first with her sister, the reliable Agnes, and then married in 1906 and had her own family with John Ott.

It is interesting to note how the Schultz children came to the asylum singly, rather than as a group of siblings. Annie was in the asylum almost a full two years before her two younger siblings were admitted. Who was caring for these girls during those two years? In 1885 sister Agnes would have been only eleven years old, very young to take on the care of a five year old and four year old. Even though Margaret and Ottilile were in the home during roughly the same two year period, they were not sent to Illinois together. They were both initially placed in Lasalle County (Where Annie lived all her time in Illinois) but after that time, were separated by many miles. I am sure it was by design that the sisters were placed in close proximity when they first came to Illinois. We can only hope that after their struggles, the Schultz children had found some measure of "contentment."

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