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Michael Madden and Julia Neron, Vermilion County

Michael Madden came to Illinois on the orphan train on or about November 4, 1855. He was brought to Illinois by Reverend Enoch Kingsbury, a minister from Danville, IL who brought several groups of orphan train riders, and even adults, to Vermilion County in the 1860s. Michael's parents were immigrants from Ireland.

Michael was indentured to Dale S. Ray near Catlin, Illinois when he was eleven years old and was still living with that family in 1860. (Not many children could still be found with the family of their first indenture after a period of five years.) Michael became a member of the 35th Illinois Infantry's Company D on July 3, 1861 and was mustered out on September 27, 1864 in Springfield IL. The 35th fought in no less than eleven battles before being mustered out, traveling from Illinois to Georgia in the course of three years.

In 1867 Michael married Martha Ray, the daughter of his guardian. Michael and Martha did not have any children, but in 1879 they adopted a little girl from the orphan train. Julia Neron was the daughter of Albert and Winifred Neron of New York. She was removed from her home in 1869 and sent to the Brooklyn Industrial School, according to the Ellsworth/Neron family tree.

Michael must have been somewhat successful in his work as a farmer. He owned his own farm in 1900 and on that farm he employed a farmhand and his wife, Joseph and Leona Sterns. In 1910 he and Martha had moved into the village of Catlin, probably for their retirement. Michael died in 1910 in Catlin, Illinois, but no obituary with his name can be found.

How Julia came to live with Michael and Martha isn't known. She is not listed in the book of children sent west by the New York Juvenile Asylum (see below). She became a school teacher in 1889 after passing the teacher's examination with a score that placed her 3rd among the 45 teachers tested. She taught at the Shiloh school in Vermilion County before her marriage. Julia married Charles Elmer Ellsworth in 1892 and sadly, just eleven years later, he died. They had three daughters, Helen, Esther and Grace. Julia died in 1913, ten years after husband died, leaving her three daughters orphaned, the oldest being twenty and youngest fifteen.

You can learn more about the New York Juvenile Asylum orphans from Clark Kidder's 6 volume set of books "A History of New York Juvenile Asylum and its Orphan Trains" where he gives the history of the New York Juvenile Asylum and its orphan train work (Volume 1) and the other five volumes that list all the names of children sent west, the names of their guardians and the places where they lived. The majority of the children were sent to Illinois, but children were also sent to New Jersey, Maryland, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota and Texas. The books are available on Amazon and you can read about them on Clark Kidder's website: These books are a priceless resource for genealogists and should be in the libraries of genealogical societies in states where children were sent.


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