“I found [my grandfather’s] World War 1 draft card, and under place of birth it said ‘unknown’. That just hit me, to just not really know where you came from. It just struck me in a personal way. I felt like I was meant to be doing this search,” says Greg.
Greg’s search for his grandfather’s past has been a long and rewarding experience. “The entire family knows that he came from The New York Foundling and on an Orphan Train, but we knew nothing else about him… I’ve always wanted to know his history.” In recent years, Greg and his relatives have embarked on a journey to learn more – and through DNA testing and extensive research, he has been able to piece together the story.
He learned that his grandfather rode the Orphan Train in 1901, coming to central Missouri. He was adopted by the Markaway family, where he was one of 12 children. “One of the interesting parts of the story is that somewhere in 1920, he had returned to New York and found out who his mother was,” Greg says. “I think it always weighed on him that he had been left at The Foundling, but at the same time, he always had a connection to The Foundling.”
The search has not only brought Greg closer to his family, but has provided a newfound community as well. Greg has met others involved in Orphan Train history, started an online group for Foundling Orphan Train descendants, and now enjoys helping others with their own historical research. As Greg says, “Everyone’s story is different. It’s just fascinating to me because I’m a history buff, and a psychologist, and all my interests come together here… And I think we’re all searching for something about where we came from.”