"Orphan Trains of Kansas" is contributed by CONNIE DIPASQUALE;
this article written by L. BLAIR HOYT.

1911 Orphan Train Rider

Edward Hoyt:
Train Rider with Two Families

by L. Blair Hoyt

Edward HoytEDWARD Hoyt was born 18 January 1903 at 220A Wilson Street in Brooklyn, New York, the second son of Walter and Mary Ann Goelt Hoyt. His brother, William lambert Hoyt, was born 13 November 1901 at 148 S. 8th Street in Brooklyn, and his sister, Frances Dorothy Hoyt, was born 14 May 1904, also in Brooklyn. Little is known of their early years except that their father worked as a salesman. It is believed that they lived in the same apartment as their paternal grandparents, William Riley and Phoebe Jane Van Nostrand Hoyt.

     Mary Ann Hoyt died 5 August 1906 of tuberculosis. Phoebe Jane Hoyt, Edward's grandmother, died 23 August 1907 in a fire that destroyed their apartment.

     In 1908, the three Hoyt children were placed in a boarding house with a Mr. Ryan. Walter Hoyt agreed to pay $6.00 a week for their care. He paid two weeks in advance and then disappeared. Mr. Ryan applied to the Eastern District Industrial School on 30 November 1908 to take the children as he was too poor to continue taking care of them. They stayed there until the two boys were released to the Children's Aid Society on 5 January 1911 for placing out. Frances was released sometime in September 1914.

     Edward's trip to Kansas must have started just a few days after placement with the Children's Aid Society, as he and his brother were in Valley Falls, Kansas, on 20 January 1911. William was placed with Mr. Wesley Wentz and Edward was placed with Mr. and Mrs. J. Irving Spence, both families in Valley Falls. Frances was placed with Mr. and Mrs. M.A. Wilson of Valley Falls on 28 September 1914.

The Spences     Edward's stay with the Spences was an enjoyable time. They owned a farm and he loved working on the farm and taking care of the animals. He attended school in town and then worked at home. He graduated from high school around 1921. It was the Spences' intention to adopt Edward, but Mr. Spence died and Mrs. Spence was not permitted to go ahead with the adoption process. After graduation, he worked on the farm and with a road construction crew. He stayed on with the family until Mrs. Spence died. After that he felt he had no reason to stay, so he left.

     During Edward's first year attending school in Valley Falls, a girl in his glass nicknamed him Noodles. When he arrived in Neosho, Missouri, one of the first people he met was the girl who had given him the name of Noodles, so his name followed him. People who knew him for over forty years in Neosho knew him only as Noodles and never by his real name, Edward. So it was only fitting that both names were engraved on his monument.

     While in high school, Edward played both football and basketball. He would laugh and say he played football for three years and was never hurt. He played center on the football team during the time that the center was eligible to catch passes. But in the non-contact sport of basketball, his shoulder was broken.

     A strange thing happened in 1918 that upset Edward. He received a letter from his Uncle Clifford Hoyt, living in Miami, Florida. This was the first contact any member of his family had tried to make. Clifford asked him to think about coming to Miami to live with him. Edward refused to answer the letter. I guess the matter ended there.

     Prior to writing Edward, Clifford had written to the Children's Aid Society to get his address and permission to write to the children. The Society thought that it would be all right to write both boys, but didn't think he should write to Frances as she was younger and was very happy where she was. This Clifford agreed to. He finally wrote to both boys. Neither answered him.

     William Riley Hoyt, the children's grandfather, who also lived in Miami, was attempting to find the children too. When he had contacted the Industrial School, he was told that there was no record of the children. In October, 1925, he boarded a train in Miami intending to go to New York and take the same route that the "Orphan Train" took to Kansas. He planned to get off at each stop and ask about the children. When the train arrived in Vincennes, Indiana, on 10 Oct 1925, he was found in his compartment dead of a heart attack.

     Edward and Jim Ottinger, a police officer from Valley Falls who had befriended him, arrived in Neosho, Missouri, with the Taylor-Allison Construction Company, building roads. Edward was still on this job when he met Sylvia May Nance. They were married on 4 May 1929 in Baxter Springs, Kansas. When the construction company moved on, Edward and Jim stayed on in Neosho. During the early years of his marriage, Edward worked at many jobs. In 1930, they were in Nebraska following the wheat harvest. Edward then worked for his brother-in-law driving a truck, and later for the Robinson-Davis Lumber Yard in Neosho, working there until his death in 1971.

     Three sons were born to Edward and Sylvia: Ronald Edward Hoyt born 21 June 1930, Lawrence Blair Hoyt born 26 February 1933, and Cecil Melvin Hoyt born 22 November 1937, all in Neosho, Missouri.

     In 1934, Edward and Sylvia wrote to the Children's Aid Society asking about his placement and natural parents. He was told that they knew very little about his past.

     In 1938, his brother William wrote to the Chamber of Commerce in Miami, Florida asking for their aid in locating his father. There was no need of them to look very far as Walter Hoyt was well known in Miami by this time. He owned and operated the Miami Citizen, a labor newspaper. The father contacted William and left for Kansas at the first opportunity. He first met William and then they both drove to Americus, Kansas to visit Frances. After a short visit there, they all drove to Neosho Missouri to visit Edward and his family.

Children's Aid Society placement card     The reunion between Walter and Edward was not to be the happy affair that the other two were. When Walter walked in the front door, Edward walked out the back one. Edward's only remark on the subject was "He wasn't there when I needed him and I sure don't need him now." He was finally convinced to come back in and meet his father for the first time in thirty years. It was during this visit that Walter learned that his brother Clifford had known where the children were since 1918. This Clifford denied, but Sylvia still had the letter and the picture that he had sent to Edward in 1918. The relationship between the two bothers was never really the same after that. Over the years Edward and Walter became very close, not only as father and son, but as friends. During the next ten years, Walter visited Neosho as often as he could get away from his business in Miami. Walter died in Miami on 21 January 1948.

     William Lambert Hoyt died on 15 July 1968, leaving no descendants. Edward Hoyt died 17 February 1971, leaving three sons and seven grandchildren. Frances Dorothy Hoyt Shirley died 5 September 1990 leaving nine children, thirty-one grandchildren, forty-four great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandson.

     As all the principals are now dead, it is impossible to know what prompted a man to desert his children in a boarding school and go to Florida with his father and brother. As they were a very close family, maybe it was the grief over losing a wife and mother in the span of a year. In the end, my father Edward had two families, his foster family in Kansas and his father, brother, and sister. We visited with Edward's foster family until his death. Since that time all of the older members of the family have passed away and we have lost contact.

"It was great to see them with their families. It was the first time they had seen each other for many years - almost since they were sent to Kansas. Now that we're together again, we're going to make a real family. I've missed them all these years and I think they were pretty glad to see their old dad."
                --Walter Hoyt, in the
                Kansas City Star after
                reuniting with his children

Other Newspaper Articles:

     Miami Daily News and Metropolis, 12 October 1925: War Veteran Is Found Dead Aboard Train

     The Coffeyville Daily, 7 November 1938: Lost Three Children and Found These

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