Writing From a Distance for the Spinster on the Orphan Train collection took me down quite the research road. Or rails if you wish.
While this book is more about Shanna Becket, an agent on the train, than the orphans, to write it had to understand how the orphans were collected and dispersed out west. Most of my research didn’t end up in the book, but that’s the way it is with writing. Under every story, there is a hidden glacier of knowledge gleaned by the author.
Did you know there were no “Orphan Trains” instead, regular trains were used, sometimes a car would be filled with children? Most of the time there were small groups who were looked after by a few agents.
The agents took food along with the utensils they would need for the children. The also took along emergency bags that included wash cloths, soap, blankets, and medicines, like Larkspur, in case vermin (lice) had snuck past the caretakers. Talk about a packing for a road trip!
Shanna’s trip from New Your City to Trenton, Illinois was close to 1,002 miles! She would have left on Monday and arrived at her destination on Wednesday evening.
While From a Distance is not a true story, but I did find that there was an orphan adopted in Trenton who later moved to Marion, Illinois–or so the story goes. Sometimes history is not exact.
To save her life, a spinster runs from her brutal stepfather. But what she runs to might be more than she can handle.
Shanna Becket, abused for years by her stepfather, runs away from him. When she secures employment as a Children’s Society Agency agent, her travels bring her dangerously close to meeting him again.
Aidan Sollar, trying to please his wealthy father, oversees the building of a Chicago hotel in the hopes that his father won’t give it to his older brother.
They meet while traveling the country, but Shanna can’t trust any man. A sick orphan brings them together, and Shanna is forced to place her well-being in Aidan’s hands. But accepting the love she’s only observed from a distance is another story. And Aidan must choose between his family’s wealth or love.