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Gertrude Dangler, Stephenson County

Gertrude Dangler was sent to Illinois in March of 1887 with a company of 18 boys and 4 girls. she was one of five children assigned to families in Stephenson County. Gertrude may have been the daughter of Joseph and Annie Dangler of the New Jersey 1880 census. Joseph Dangler was a teamster and his 14 year old son worked in a soap factory in Jersey City. Gertrude was just 2 years old in 1880. None of the other children in the Dangler family came to the NYJA.

In Stephenson County Gertrude lived with Charles Hart and his family for 7 years (until she was 16) and then was shuffled around four other counties for two years before she lived with Mr. Hart again in 1897. She lived with a "Mr. Smith" later in 1897 in Freeport and in 1903 married a William Smith. William Smith was 18 years older than Gertrude and was a Civil War veteran with the Iowa Cavalry. William and Gertrude had at least three children: Marguerite, Jeannette and Juanita. They moved to Boise Idaho before 1910 and had another son.

In 1890 a visiting agent visited the Harts to check on Gertrude and wrote the attached letter. The Visitors always described the situation in which the child lived, including the prosperity of the family. Gertrude reportedly had a very easy assignment and was allowed to attend school longer than many orphan train riders. (Although the agent states the Harts did not have a daughter, they did have a daughter who was most likely married or away from home by 1890.)

We can only speculate about whether Gertrude married the same Mr. Smith that she was assigned to live with in 1897. When she married Smith he had a three year old stepson, so he may have been recently widowed and looking for childcare.

Gertrude died in 1919 at the age of 40 from acute gastritis and malnutrition.


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