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Oct 12, 2009 12:30 PM by VWhite

Orphan Train Museum

The Lousiana Orphan Train Museum opened Saturday in Opelousas, keeping a part of Acadiana history alive.

In the mid 1800's a nun from New York City started "orphan trains," sending toddlers from the Big Apple across the country to start new lives. In 1907 the first trains arrived in Acadiana.

The orphans' history was kept quiet for years because the children were outsiders and because of the stigma attached to being an orphan. They were often bullied, being called "Yankees" and being told their parents rejected them.

KATC met the oldest living train rider, Alice Bernard, who was only 3-years old when she came here, and some of the other riders' descendants.

"It's really nice to have something to look back on," said Bernard, whose memory of her experience is fading.

"It was very important that they stayed here, they became pillars of the community, there's one that became mayor. It showed that they worked and accomplished a great deal," said Margaret Brown Briley, a descendant.

Historians have been collecting pieces for the museum for almost 20 years, and the museum was a work in progress for the past seven years.

The Opelousas is honored to be the location for the museum.

 

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