Mail-Order Kid

An Orphan Train

Rider's Story

Out of the Foundling,

into the fire


The massive orphan train exodus whisked three-year-old Teresa from the safety of her New York orphanage, where the worst thing the Foundling nuns did was wash her curly black hair, to a desolate house and cold-hearted "parents" in Kansas. There she entered a small and strange Volga German world whose inhabitants spoke a language she had never heard. In this odd world, she encountered whippings and sexual abuse. 


Perhaps half a million children, like Teresa, were plucked from orphanages and shipped by rail (or "relocated") to nearly every state in the Union from 1854 to 1929. 


Mail-Order Kid looks at the orphan train movement through the eyes of one small child who yearns to know her "real" mother, survives a tortured childhood, and ultimately, as an adult, comes to terms with her past, her faith, and herself.

Winner of the
national orphan train complex
special president's award
praise for
Mail-Order Kid


"Everyone who met her loved her. Marilyn Coffey has caught the real Jessie Teresa on the pages of this book."

Mary Ellen Johnson

Founder and Executive Director

Orphan Train Heritage Society of America, Inc.

"Quite fascinating, a new and unusual look at the Orphan Train experience."

Pippa White

Performer, "The Orphan Train"

One's Company Productions

"An excellent job of bringing to life a little-known part of our country's history."

Sandy Hill

Journalist and novelist

Book Data
Publisher: "out West" Press
Publication Date: May 6, 2010
Paperback: 300 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-09626317-2-6
Kindle ASIN: B0049U47KG

Audiobook DATA

Narrator: Marie Hoffman

Length: 9 hours, 15 minutes

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© 2019 Marilyn June Coffey, Omega Cottonwood Press, "out West" Press