Rory’s Promise


Hello, and welcome to my blog.

For the next few weeks I will be including information about the New York Foundling Hospital, early 20th century orphan trains and frontier Arizona.  This is some of the actual background information Michaela MacColl and I used as we wrote a soon-to-be-published Rory’s Promise which we have written for Calkins Creek, an imprint of Boyds Mills, the famous publisher of Highlights.

This is the first book in what we are calling the Hidden History series, stories about young people and events in American History that have basically been forgotten or overlooked.

Rory’s Promise is the fictionalized story of a young Irish orphan who, with her five year old sister, has been a resident at the New York Foundling Hospital for three years.  The goal of the Foundling is to find homes for the children in their care with Catholic families.  When Rory is told that Violet is being placed with a family in Arizona Territory, Rory refuses to accept that she will be separated from her beloved little sis and determines to go to Arizona to assure that Violet has a good home, with the unstated goal that a family adopting Violet would certainly have room for two red-haired girls.

Rory, Violet and fifty-six other orphans aged three to six travel thousands of miles from New York City to Clifton and Morenci, Arizona Territory on one of the famous “orphan trains”.  What they find in Arizona is nothing like what they expected.

I grew up in a pioneer family in Arizona.  Both branches of my family on my father’s side were in Arizona before it was a territory.  Our fictional Clifton that Rory experienced was surprisingly similar to my experience on a ranch just outside Bagdad, another major copper mining center in Arizona.

In my next post I will include some period photographs you might enjoy.