June 23, 2023

There are some roads you can’t navigate alone.

My husbands family for as long as I have known them, about 45 years, always told this story about their grandfather, George Washington Murphy; He went to live in Illinois with an aunt on his mothers side after his father died. Everyone took it as the truth, why wouldn’t they? Being the family researcher, I question everything, I want proof. I want to know the whys, the hows, the wheres, usually the stuff you never get to find out because you start the searching later in life and all who could answer these questions have passed on. But I went searching anyway. I wanted to know if GWM was indeed related to the people I found him living with on a 1900 census in Danforth, Illinois. After a bit of researching, I came to the conclusion that they were not related. This family had been in the area of Illinois, Indiana since the 1700’s.I wondered, I know where GWM was in 1900, where is the rest of his family? I found 2 possible listings for GWM’s younger siblings on a 1900 census for the NYC Juvenile Asylum. I searched for GWM on the same registry and there was a George W Murphy listed.

What I found was quite astounding and it opened up a whole new aspect of our countries history that I and I am sure many were not aware of. I began to read about “The Placing Out” program and “Orphan Trains”. Could these be my husbands grandfather and great aunts? This is where I found Clark Kidder. I reached out to Clark, gave him all the information I knew about the family and within a day he was able to tell me that yes, these were my husbands family and that GWM was also one of the children that was on one of the Orphan Trains. A week and a half later, some back and forth for information, Clark presented me with documents and details and even letters! He discovered that GWM was on an Orphan train and that his 2 youngest sisters had been placed in the NYC Juvenile Asylum. They did not get “placed out”. Talking on the phone with Clark, I could sense he was as excited about all of this as we were. He was able to uncover details and fill in many of the blanks that had been the topic of conversation in this family for many years. Clark was very patient with me as I went through the documents and asked many questions. This family is forever grateful to Clark Kidder. His patience, knowledge, dedication and willingness to help complete strangers navigate through this part of their ancestry is extraordinary. And he does it like they were his own family.
There are some roads you just can’t navigate on your own. I am thankful that Clark Kidder came along for the ride.

Eileen, in New Jersey


November 22, 2022

Dear Clark,

I can not thank you enough for your help researching my Great Grandfather’s journeys on the Orphan Train! I had come to a dead end on trying to figure out where he came from and how he ended up in McDonough County, IL. Without your help I would probably have given up. Now I am set to research further into my family’s past.

Thank you again,
John Williams
Maquoketa, IA


April 2, 2021

Mr. Kidder

I couldn’t be more excited about your research. It is like Christmas opening your email. Thank you so much for your efforts and especially the speed in which you accomplished your task. It has opened up a myriad of new avenues for me to pursue. I had not known when Sarah had arrived in the USA. That alone is huge for me. It will help me to fine tune some of my own research.
In short, I couldn’t be more pleased to having found you and reached out to you for assistance. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Mark V. in Kansas, USA


July 8, 2020

This is fascinating. 

David has been an ancestor well talked about but also totally conjecture.  Stories abounded on how and why he landed in New Zealand.  Reading the articles, you were able to provide helps grow the picture and understand a little about the conditions and the situations he would have faced.  And it helps support his story and his identity.  For this I whole heartedly appreciate all your efforts in locating David but for the extra searching you have done on my behalf. 

Clark I will be emailing my cousin in New Zealand of the findings and she will be overjoyed. One more piece of the puzzle found.

Thank you and thank you again. 

Debra – Continent of Australia

Debra from Australia.

December 22, 2019

I am amazed and pleased to see the details of my grandfather’s early years concerning matters that were mere speculation for such a long time. Thank you very much for enormous contributions in learning about our beloved grandfather. It is so much appreciated.

– Gerry in Illinois


October 9, 2019

I have been trying to research my mother’s father for her for over a year. He has been quite a mystery to her family, and a very hard man to figure out. He was born in 1887, so researching him and finding online records of him have proven tricky!! I found Clark Kidder from a Facebook genealogy site and thought why not give it a shot. To my surprise, he responded very quickly and had found a record of my grandfather for me!! I then  ordered the record from him, but he responded that it wasn’t a very full record and that he would refund my money. After he refunded my money, he still provided me with the documents he had!! How nice to find such an honest, kind person!! The record was an exact match!! From this, I was able to get more accurate information about him, what date he entered a home in New York, why he was put in a home, his parents names, and a physical description of him. He also provided me with guidance on where to look to find more information!! I am beyond pleased with his service, and I am so very grateful for his knowledge and kindness!! I highly recommend his services!!

Nikki F.


March 27, 2019

Years before computers were in our world, I began searching for information on my Great Grandmother with little evidence.  I had only a thought that she might be a rider on the Orphan Train out of New York to Illinois.  I hired help from New York through letters who confirmed her birth and her parents name but no evidence of her being on the train.  After so many dead ends, I was given Clark Kidder’s name from someone with knowledge of the orphan train riders.  He provided me with the proof, the documents and much more information than I ever hoped to have on her
Past.  Documents that clearly showed me the date she left on the train, her arrival and most of all, information on the foster homes in which she was placed.  I am so grateful to have the answers and the facts on this mystery woman and her journey.  For me, it’s hard to wrap my mind around the harsh conditions these families went through.  I am so grateful to you Clark, for your help and information…and quick (4 day) service on the final chapter of my Great Grandmother, who would be 150 years old this July!!!!!!



November 3, 2018
I am very pleased with the information Mr.Clark Kidder found on my GGrandfather from the New York Juvenile Asylum he not only found my GGrandfather but also found other siblings as well… It was so exciting looking through all the information that he obtained in his research, He was even able to find our GGGrandfather’s Name!!! This information has helped us so much in our research… Always available to answer questions, and his fees were very reasonable…
Thank you Clark for all your help…
Nancy – Massachusetts

September 11, 2018

I have been researching two orphan train children for over forty years with some level of success. I was

able to trace a grandfather and his sister to the New York Juvenile Asylum; yet, the reason for the two having been interred there had always alluded me.

When I learned that the records for the asylum were held at Columbia University in New York City, I hired a student to peruse the records for further information in regard to David Nicoll and his sister, Merrin. The student completed my request, and I was pleased with the copies that he sent to me. But I was disappointed that he was unable to supply me with the information that would answer the burning question of why the children had been at the asylum.

I recently learned that the student had missed important information because of the university holding so many different types of ledgers that would challenge an unskilled researcher. I discovered this after learning of Clark Kidder’s website about the New York Juvenile Asylum.

After two days of corresponding with Clark, he was able to supply me with the records I was missing, as well as providing me with other avenues to pursue to glean further information about David and Merrin.

The reason Clark was able to supply me with the need information is due to the fact that he has ALL the records from the New York Juvenile Asylum, and he has indexed all of them. The magnitude of the collection (117 linear feet with 31 document boxes) is so great that it would be impossible for an inexperienced hired researcher to determine which ledgers would be needed to fulfill a particular request.

I cannot begin to express my appreciation for the work that Clark completed for me. His website is impressive, he has a strong work ethic, he completes a task in a timely manner and his fees are fair for the services that he provides.

I heartily recommend Clark Kidder’s services for anyone seeking an orphan train child from the New York Juvenile Asylum or other genealogy research services.

Barbara Lockard

Longview, Washington


July 1, 2018

I was given Mr. Kidder’s information from the National Orphan Train Complex. My mother’s side had a hard stop at her great-grandfather, William. We knew he had been an indentured servant in Illinois is the 1860s and had been born in New York.

Mr. Kidder was able to obtain surrender papers from the New York Juvenile Asylum which gave us William’s mother’s name and he even found 2 additional siblings we weren’t aware of! The results of the research he has provided has opened doors to finding out from where my mother’s ancestors came. It has been of extraordinary value and the turn around was quick. I would highly recommend him to anyone with ancestors who had been turned over the the New York Juvenile Asylum.

Kind regards,

Shauna Franklin


March 16, 2018

Mr. Kidder & his new website http://newyorkjuvenileasylumcom.wpcomstaging.com, are amazing!! He has been so helpful to my sister & I in our research!!

Nancy & I are so proud of our Grandmother Tillie and her life story. She & her sister Rachel “went west” from the New York Juvenile Asylum on the train, “The Vestibule Limited”.

With the help of Mr. Kidder & his new website, he has helped determine the names of the other children who rode the train west with them on March 13th, 1896.

Other “original” asylum information has been found & copied for us from his website.

He has written marvelous books & I am now especially enjoying his book “Orphan Trains & Their Precious Cargo, The Life Work of Rev. H.D. Clarke”.

Since our Grandma was reluctant to share this part of her life with her family, we are now putting it together with subtle clues she did share & some “treasured letters” from role models who had touched her life during her time in the asylum & a tin type (we think it to be her father) & pictures of her 2 brothers. We have some other documented information, but now we are learning more with Mr. Kidder’s new website & his help.

We would highly recommend his service to those of you searching for information!


Linda (Nebraska) & Nancy (Oklahoma)


February 27, 2018

“I am very pleased with the research Clark Kidder has done for me. His website is a very valuable resource for all who have ancestors associated with the New York Juvenile Asylum. He has given me more information for a much better price than the professional researcher I hired to go to Columbia University and search the records there. He has been very generous in answering my questions and working with me to try and solve this family research problem. I highly recommend his service.”

Cindy Allison


February 24, 2018

Hi Clark, Thank you so much for the information you have found for me. You did a great job.  My stepmother is so happy with what you found. You are welcome to use me in a testimonial. I am very pleased with your time and what you have found for me.

D. L. – Illinois


February 21, 2018

From the National Orphan Train Complex via Facebook:

“We are happy to share with you a new website. This was put together by Clark Kidder, one of the leading authorities on Orphan Trains and an expert researcher. He has been working with the records of the New York Juvenile Asylum and recently sent us a link to his new, amazing website. If you have an Orphan Train Rider that was placed out by the NYJA, you need to check this out!”


February 18, 2018

Clark Kidder is a professional researcher who has exceptional knowledge involving the New York Juvenile Asylum and orphan train history.

Securing Clark Kidder’s services will provide client’s fact finding evidence through his expertise, meticulous skills, and qualifications.

– Renee Wendinger

Author of Extra Extra! The Orphan Trains and Newsboys of New York and Last Train Home: An Orphan Train Story

Make a donation to Mr. Kidder to help him continue his work on documenting America’s Orphan Train Movement and indexing old records.