Michael Young, 61, of Columbia City recalls his grandmother, Ethyle Gale Young, telling him the story of her father, Henry Gale. Even as a child, he says, he knew the story was remarkable.
Gale came to Indiana from upstate New York on an orphan train in 1864, glad to be rid of the life of constant deprivation and occasional cruelty at the Home for the Friendless in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
He had been placed there by his mother, Hannah Calahan Gale, who was unable to care for him and his three brothers after the death of their father, Luman Gale.
Youngs grandmother said her father had many days when breakfast was a bowl of coffee soup shared by two children and lunch a chunk of bread and butter. He recounted whippings as punishment.
Ethyle Gale said the train came to Kendallville, where men walked through the cars looking the children over. Henry, 7 or 8 at the time, was led out by the hand and taken by the Stewart family to farm between Brimfield and Wawaka. Extra hands were needed because two of the familys three sons were off fighting the Civil War.
Gale stayed with the family until he was grown, even moving with them to Iowa for a time – walking with the livestock to their new place. When the Stewart patriarch died shortly after the move, he came home with the family to their Indiana farm.
Gale worked in a lumber camp in upstate Michigan for a time as an adult and married Alice Weaver in 1879. The couple lived on a farm near Ligonier and several other places in Noble County.
A few years after the marriage, they had their first contact with Gales family because of a relatives death. In 1902, Gale traveled to Connecticut to see his surviving brothers and Irish-born mother, who apparently was happy to see him and told of walking 10 miles with him in her arms so he could be baptized by a priest.
Gale had five children and died in 1935. He is buried in Sparta Cemetery in Kimmell. Several living relatives carry Gale as their middle name, including Young.
A retired crane operator, Young says his great-grandfathers experience must have been harrowing.
Interested in genealogy, he has found records confirming the orphan train story at the successor of the Home for the Friendless.
Its remarkable how many children had that experience – its not a few, he says. Its in the thousands.