Statue Plaques

Due to supply chain shortages, a few of our statues don’t have their plaques yet. You can find the text for their plaques below.

William James Family (Sunset Home)

William, Margaret, John, Martha, George, and Anna

Riders to Lincoln, Nebraska, 1879

In 1874, the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) created the Family Emigration Program to expand their Placing Out Department. The object of the program was to help destitute families get a new start outside the city while keeping the families intact. The families that took part in the program all had a job opportunity or relatives/friends in the West but could not afford the cost of moving. Many of these families were recommended to the CAS by preachers, employers, or friends. The adults in the family would provide funding for half of their own train fare while the CAS provided full tickets to the children.

On March 14, 1879, a company of families was sent west to Fort Scott, Kansas. The James family, made up of William, Margaret and four children, the Taylor family of five, and Carl and Caroline Anderson were all friends in New Jersey. The men were all carpenters and all worked hard, when they could find work. However, the weeks just prior to their leaving New Jersey had been particularly difficult, and none of the men had earned any money. The families had friends in Lincoln, Nebraska, and had been trying to find a way to get there and start over. By the 1880 census, the James, Taylor, and Anderson families were next door neighbors living on farms in Sherman County, Nebraska.

By 1900, William and Margaret James had added three more children to their family, and had moved on from Nebraska to Cheyenne, Wyoming. William was a gifted builder who became a well-known contractor in Cheyenne and landed big construction jobs. In 1904, William was the contractor for a “Magnificent Stone Block” four story building built in downtown Cheyenne. The local paper applauded his efforts and the beauty the building added to the capital city.

William and Margaret’s children also found success out west. Their daughters became milliners and his sons ran a cigar and notions store. William was a contractor until he was seventy years old, and then ran a boarding house until he passed in 1921.

Sponsored in loving memory of Dean Johnston by his family

John Lukes Jacobus (Post Office)

June 1, 1912 – September 7, 2011

Orphan Train Rider to Kansas, 1915

Born in Brooklyn, New York, John was turned over to the care of the New York Child’s Hospital by his mother on July 22, 1912. At 2 ½, John was transferred to the care of the Children’s Aid Society of New York. John was placed out in Ottawa, Kansas, on April 19, 1915 with Charles and Edna Jacobus. Charles had been the county superintendent of schools, and together the couple operated The Florist, a greenhouse and gift shop. The Ottawa Herald reported the placing out and John’s unique arrival to the community. “John Lukes, aged 2 years, a particularly engaging little blue-eyed boy…friendly, too, for he insisted on shaking the reporter’s hand…”

John was incredibly curious with a love of anything related to math, science or horticulture. He often took apart his mother’s kitchen appliances, and when asked where they were, he would state, “I haven’t put them back together yet!” Sometimes putting them back together proved harder than he originally thought, and he would be left with an extra screw or bolt; he would have to take the item apart yet again so all the pieces would be back in their original locations.

In 1934, John graduated from Ottawa University with the intention to teach. He turned down a job offer at a country school paying a salary of $35 per month, returning home to Ottawa to work in the family greenhouse for a short time. In 1937, John accepted a job in Phoenix, Arizona, with the Sunshine Biscuit Company as a bookkeeper. He joined the Army Medical Corps in 1942 and served his last year of service in the Philippines.

After the war John moved to Long Beach, California, where he joined the U.S. Postal Service as a mail carrier. In 1956, John met his future wife Louise in Long Beach. When asked about the first thing John said to Louise, she would laugh and say, “It was how do you want your checks made out?” Louise was the Baptist church secretary and John was the treasurer. Together they had one daughter, Judith Louise. After John’s retirement from the Postal Service in June 1972, the family traveled extensively across the United States and the world. John’s retirement was short lived; he began working at Stricklin/Snively Mortuary in Long Beach in 1974 and continued to work until he was 85. John passed away September 7, 2011, at the age of 99.

“While it seems that [John] was always extremely headstrong and wanted to ‘do his own thing’ as much as possible, he also learned the values of honesty, integrity, and faith early on which stood him in good stead his entire life. [John] was…an exceptional individual. His life has not been an easy one at times but his values are ones that have been passed along to me and I have always tried to pass those same values along to my second grade students while I was teaching and to others now that I am retired. That way, John Jacobus will live on and continue to be an influence on future generations.” – Judith Louise Jacobus

Sponsored by Judith Jacobus

Joseph Fuourka/Joseph “Joe” Roguet Aillet (Easy G Sport Grill)

September 13, 1904 – December 28, 1971

Orphan Train Rider to Louisiana, 1905

Joe Aillet was born Joseph Fuourka in 1904. Shortly after he was born, he was given to the New York Foundling Hospital, which sent him on to Louisiana in 1905. When he arrived in Louisiana, the family who had requested him decided not to take him in, and he was instead taken and raised by a local priest and his widowed housekeeper. Joe played football through high school and college, and began coaching the sport in 1929. He is most well-known for his position as head football coach at Louisiana Tech University, beginning in 1940. While there, he led the team to three Louisiana Intercollegiate and nine Gulf State Championships. In 1952 he also took on the role of golf coach at Louisiana Tech, and led that team to ten Gulf State Conference titles.

Joe was well a respected coach, and was named the Gulf States Coach of the Year four times. He is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Tech Athletic Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame, and the Holy Cross School Sports Hall of Fame. After 30 years, Joe retired from his position as the Louisiana Tech Athletic Director in 1970. Joe and his wife, Ruby Marie Comeaux Alliet, had three children: two sons and a daughter.

Joe Aillet passed away on December 28, 1971. The following year, the Louisiana Tech University Stadium was renamed the Joe Aillet Stadium.

Sponsored by Easy G Sports Grill

Irma Craig Schnieders (Broadway Plaza, East side)


Orphan Train Rider to Missouri, 1901

Irma Craig was placed out in Osage City, Missouri, by the New York Foundling Hospital in 1901. She was first placed with Mr. and Mrs. George Boehm and their two sons, but in 1909 Mrs. Boehm fell ill and died, leaving Mr. Boehm feeling that he could no longer provide a suitable home for Irma. She was then placed with the neighboring Rackers family. In Irma’s words, her second foster home “was even better than the first.”

In 1918 Irma began teaching at Moreau Bend School. During the first year of teaching, she met Robert F. Schnieders, who she married on September 5, 1922. Together they had eight children: four boys and four girls.

Irma said of her Orphan Train experience, “My foster families loved me and reared me just like I was their own child. From them I learned rules of good behavior, the miracle of the sanctity of life, and love for the Creator and the marvels of the world.”

Irma’s daughter, Shirley Andrews, was a founding member of the Orphan Train Heritage Society of America. She continues to collect information on Orphan Train Riders, provide research assistance to fellow descendants, and share the history of the Orphan Train Movement and her mother’s ride to Missouri.

In loving memory of William (Bill) and Mary Ann Lagemann

George Jacobs Ducrow (Broadway Plaza, East side)


Orphan Train Rider to Illinois, 1878

George Jacobs Ducrow was born into a circus. His earliest memory was training with L.B. Lents New York circus. However, his time there was not all fun and games. In 1873 he was badly injured in a fireworks accident and was blind for three months. He eventually left the circus and was sent to live with his grandmother, who took him to New York City in 1876. A few months after their arrival, his grandmother died, leaving thirteen-year-old George on his own. He sought help and was taken to the New York Juvenile Asylum.

In 1878 George was placed out in Illinois with a farmer who was not kind to him. After four years he ran away and worked for a number of other farmers before he finally settled in Irving, Illinois, where he worked in a hardware store. In 1898 George enlisted and served in the Spanish American War. Following his service, he returned to Illinois and began working for the John Deere Plow Company as a traveling expert. He and his family later moved to Mississippi where George worked as a John Deer demonstrator, and then to St. Louis Missouri, where he worked in the John Deere office.

George married Julia Dickerson, a widow and mother of one, and together they had two daughters. The family never missed a circus or a parade! His daughter Edith remembered her father as a loving parent, devoted Christian, and reader. “He enjoyed being with us and enjoyed all the things that he missed in his childhood with us… He was a ‘flag waving American,’ and never complained about the past. Instead, he loved America for…’the chance it gave him to make good’.”

In loving memory of William (Bill) and Mary Ann Lagemann