Ellen Broderick a.k.a. Helen Ann Schuler

Ellen Broderick (right). Taken when she arrived in North Dakota.

Ellen Broderick was born in Sloane Hospital, New York City, on 11/17/1906. She was brought to the New York Foundling Hospital,
11/28/1906, by her mother. Her mother stated that she was unable to take proper care of Ellen. The mother gave only Ellen’s name and date of birth.  She gave no personal information on Ellen’s father or mother.

Ellen was baptized by Reverend M.S. Sheehan of St. Vincent Ferrer Church, of New York City. Ellen remained with NYFH until September 30, 1908, when she was placed in the foster home of Frank and Josephine Schuler of Mtg. Carmel, North Dakota.

The Schulers were informed about the children at the Foundling Homethrough information which had been sent by the Foundling Home to the Catholic churches throughout the Midwest. Frank and Josephine signed up for two children. They had lost a child and were unable to have any more children. After signing up, they were soon notified of the arrival of a boy and a girl, and when and where to meet the train.

The Schulers drove to Fargo, North Dakota, to meet the train to receive the two children. Ellen was one and a half years old and the boy, William Thompson, was two years old.

Apparently there was a form of identification on the children and the Schuler’s were to show some identification.  It was necessary for them to take a picture of the children, wearing the same clothing in which they arrived, and sending it to the Foundling Home proving arrival. People who were called agents would visit the Schulers, as well
as other families who accepted these children into their homes, to determine whether the children were being taken care of properly and provided a good home.

“February 10, 1911, Ellen and William were indentured (an early form of adoption) by Mr. and Mrs. Schuler. At this time, Ellen became known as Helen Schuler and William changed his last name to Schuler. In later years, he returned to his former name, which was Thompson.”

The fact that Ellen and William were Orphan Train Riders was never kept a secret from them, or anyone else.  The community was very aware of this fact because there were other children who came from the Foundling Home to be adopted. The Schulers adopted two more children, another boy and girl. John Kutynzyk and Frances Stepnagel arrived in 1922, the last group to arrive in that area. Frances is still living in 1997 and still resides in
Langdon, North Dakota.

Ellen was concerned about whom she was only in that she might have been born out of wedlock. She always said she was happy with the ‘parents’ who raised her and would not want to hurt them by looking for her ‘natural’ parents.

Helen met Peter J. Boesl, in the community where they lived. It was said that her parents arranged for them to begin dating by inviting Peter to their home for a Sunday afternoon dinner. They were married on June 29, 1926, in Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church in Mt. Carmel, North Dakota. William was the best man and Frances the flower girl, at age nine.

Peter was a farmer and they lived on rental farms until the early 1940s when they purchased the farm near Mt. Carmel, North Dakota, which was home and remains in the family today.

I am the second of ten children born to my mother and father. Mother helped provide a good home, which was hard work in those days when we had no electricity, running water or any other modern conveniences. She was rather a quite person, doing all of her work in that quiet way, and gave us all the love she had, but, just as many people experience, we didn’t have the opportunity to let her know that we appreciated what she did for us.

On December 26, 1950, my mother passed away two hours after giving birth to her tenth child. She was 44 years old, much too young to be leaving us behind, but it seems God had other plans for her. She leaves a legacy of thirty-four grandchildren and thirty-eight great grandchildren (at this writing). Seven of her ten children are still living, each one proud to be her descendant, each one eager and proud to tell her story.

Written by Marie Boesl Hays (daughter)

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