To The
The Orphan Boys 1864

I don't remember when I first heard the story - that my Great grandfather Frederick William Groharing was an orphan - and that he came from an orphanage in New York at the age of 12 with his brothers Richard, 13 and Edward, 7 to live with families near Thomson, Carroll County, Illinois in the early 1860's. They never spoke of their parents, but did acknowledge the existence of two sisters, Amy and Mary. All three, even as men, spoke of themselves as orphans, and that they had come "with a band of others" from the orphanage. They had kept in contact with at least Mary; because after her marriage she and her husband, Heinrich Schildmiller, came to live in the Thomson area.

The legends, myths and remembrances that surrounded the history, (and mystery), of their arrival in northwestern Illinois were many, and they have pervaded my memory since I was a child. Though two previous genealogies of the Groharing family had been produced, neither author had been able to find any hard facts about the boys' origin. One of the legends was, that they had changed their name so that they would recognize one another if they were ever separated. Many theories about their true name were advanced over the last few years, but failed to prove out. Another story had it that they really came from Brattleboro, Vermont, but a check of the records there about 15 years ago had revealed no Groharings. And as far as we knew, all the people in the United States bearing the name Groharing had descended from those three orphans.

The break came about a year and a half ago while I was researching the computer generated bride/groom index at the Carroll County, Illinois Courthouse. One family legend said that Richard Groharing had been married in England. Being curious, (and doubtful), of how and why an "orphan boy" would go to England, find a bride, and return to Carroll County IL, I decided to check the marriage records in Carroll Co. Not to my surprise I found that Richard had in fact been married in Carroll Co., though his wife's parents were born in England. So much for that legend. However, while looking through the index, now alphabetized, I also discovered that Edward's name, (the youngest of the brothers), had been cross referenced by the computer operator. For Edward had spelled his name GRAUHERING at the time of his first marriage to Cora Miner in 1878, and GROHARING for his second marriage to Phoebia (Rice) Allen in 1903. This information had, of course, been there all along; but somehow those researching before me had missed this vital fact - what might be the "true" spelling of our name.

With this new information I wrote the Town Clerk of Brattleboro, Vermont, (vital records are kept at the township level in Vermont), and asked if they might have information on the name GRAUHERING. I received a stunning reply. For the records revealed the marriages of both Amy and Mary, and the fourth marriage of their father Friederich Wilhelm Grauhering, who hadn't died until 1886. I then knew that though the three boys may have come to Illinois from an orphanage, they weren't orphans in the true sense of the word.

The Vermont marriage license applications of that time show a great deal of information; name, place of residence, age, occupation, number of marriage, place of birth, and father's and mother's names. Mary's and Amy's marriage application gave the name of their, (and the three orphan boy's), mother as Mary Twachtmann, who we later learned had died in 1859 in New York City. Friedrich Wilhelm's application revealed that he was 69, a tailor by trade, it was his fourth marriage, and had been born in Berlin, Prussia to Louis and Fredricka Grauhering. A search of LDS records by my cousin Bernard Groharing, showed his father's and mother's names were actually Johann Ludwig and Friederike (Matthes) Grauhering. Further investigations showed that Friedrich Wilhelm had served in the Union Army from April of 1861 to March of 1864. The 1860 New York Census shows that Friedrich had remarried, and it was thought at this point in the search that the three boys were placed in an orphanage when he had gone into the service, because his second wife couldn't handle a family of five. The name of the orphanage was not learned until just recently; and again, like the spelling of the name, by a bit of serendipity.

In a recent exchange of information with Patricia Garr of Savanna, IL, regarding our common interest in Edward's first wife, I mentioned that I was trying to find the circumstances by which Edward, Richard, and my Great grandfather Frederick William, (actually christened as Friederich Wilhelm, and obviously named after his father), came as orphans to Carroll County. Pat, who seemingly has read every newspaper printed in Carroll County, responded with her transcription of the following article. Thanks to Jon Whitney, publisher of the Carroll County Review , and himself an avid genealogist, I now have a copy of the original article, and the picture to which it refers. What follows is my own transcription.

From the Thomson Review, Thomson, IL, Thursday, March 10, 1932

Only Three Of Thomson's Orphans Of 1864 Still Alive


The recent visit of Mr. and Mrs. George Beck of Ironwood, Mich.,with their many Thomson friends, and of course stopping with his brother Charles, led to many interesting stories and events of the earlier days and it was only natural that they talked of their boyhood days and soon they dug up the enclosed picture that shows the lads of 1864, all orphans, who came from the New York Juvenile Asylum in New York City. 32 in Party

In 1864 there was a party of 32 youngsters sent forth into the world from the New York Juvenile Asylum in New York City. They were put on a train and headed west and as the train stopped at various stations people would come in to look at the youngsters to pick out some that they wanted to raise. Of course most of this work had been completed before the children went forth, by correspondence between the individual parties and the asylum.

Those Bad Beck Boys
But anyway, Chas. and Geo. Beck got as far from New York City as Fulton, and then Fred Hustis saw them at Fulton, and brought them to Thomson and started to raise them. Charles was 9 and George was 6. George stayed and behaved himself, so did Charlie for a while and then he decided to run away. But upon coming back a year or so later Fred Hustis told him he could get along on his own hook, so the rest of Charlie's days in Thomson are history, and they would make some mighty interesting reading if we could set in some type some of the stunts and pranks pulled by those youngsters of half a century ago.
Down in the front row, the fourth from the right, we find a little fellow standing there with his mouth open, that is Charlie Beck, and do you know what his wife says - "Well", she says, "it's been open ever since".

Went to College - 2 Days
We asked Tom Cochran about his early life history and he said, "Well, there isn't much to tell you. I was taken at Fulton by Prof. Coverk, who was connected with the old Fulton College. Thought I was going to get to go to college, but got only two days of study in all together. He kept me busy doing chores and taking care of his horse and garden."

Came to Thomson
"That didn't last very long and Mr. Greene who run the store at Fulton then took me and I worked there. Later he sold the store and the fellows that bought it opened a branch at Thomson and I came here to run it for them. Pretty soon they needed some money and I bought the store, and have been here ever since, now being Thomson's oldest merchant."

Ed Groharing
Ed Groharing also came from the same orphanage but came in a later group, about three or four years later, we believe, and hence is not in this picture.

Daniel Harney, Orphan
Daniel Harney was another orphan boy who came from the Juvenile Orphanage in New York City, for, says Charles Beck, "You know I have always felt kind of related to anybody that comes from the orphanage, for after all they are about all the relatives we had in our younger years".

R. D. Perry, Agent
The man in the picture with the beard is R. D. Perry, the agent, now dead for many years. Charles and Mr. Cochran both tell us that he was a very nice man and did everything he could to make the lives of the boys as happy and contented as possible.

Foot Note on Photo
On the bottom of the original photograph we find the following sketch which is not shown in the picture and which we herewith reprint: "The children above photographed left the New York Juvenile Asylum June 27th, 1864, to be located in homes in western Illinois. In an interval in their journey the picture was taken that each child might receive one, and thus have an interesting memorial of his companions and of the time so important in his history. It is to be hoped that each child, so often as he sees this picture of himself and his companions will resolve ever to be an honor to the Asylum and to his companions, and an honor to his friends and to those who may become his friends. Each is hereby reminded that the best wishes of many are with him, to encourage him to do well."

(R. D. Perry, Indenturing Agent)

And now we will give the names of the youngsters as well as possible.
(There are three rows of boys, five to the row, reading from left to right.)
First Row
1. Daniel O'Brien (he's got his mouth open too) who went out in the country, think to one of the Carpenter families at Argo.
2. Emil White, who was called "Lafe". He was also taken by one of the Carpenter families at Argo.
3. George Beck of Ironwood, Mich., who recently visited here with his brother Charles Beck, Sr.
4. Charles Beck (please refer to an opening paragraph about the open mouth), and his history. "Well", says Charles, "I think the less said the better".
5. William Groharing, who was adopted by Sprink Carpenter, and was the husband of Mrs. Lucinda Groharing who now lives with her daughter, Mrs. Arthur Pape.

Second Row
1. Tresa Hoover, the only girl in the party, who was raised in this neighborhood although more towards Mt. Carroll. She later married John Stumphy, a brother of Albert Stumphy, both now deceased.
2. Alexander Hamilton. And this is all we have about this lad.
3. Joseph John. Another lad that we do not know a bit about. His name sounds like the last name had been left off, but it appears this was on the back of the photo.
4. Richard Groharing, who was adopted by Robert Dunshee and whose widow Mrs. Sarah Groharing is a Thomson resident. We might add here that Ed Groharing was another brother to the Groharings named in the picture, but he does not appear herewith.
5. John Flynn, who was adopted by Mr. Phillips, the father of Nettie and Florence Phillips and lived for several years on the Melugin farm east of town. Nettie Phillips now lives in Maywood and Florence was better known to us as Mrs. F. E. Melugin.

Third Row
1. Wm. McPherson, who was taken by one of the Carpenter families at Argo.
2. Daniel S.
3. James S. Evidently these two lads were brothers, but we are unable to give their last names.
4. James Wicks, who we believe was a relative to the Wicks family that lived here about twenty years ago.
5. Tom Cochran, although his name on the back of the photo appears as James C. Of all the faces on the picture we think that our readers can best pick out Mr. Cochran the easiest as they have known him and know these men today.

Of course there are only three of them living today. The two Becks and Mr. Cochran. We will be mighty glad to hear from any of our readers or friends who can give us additional information about these orphan boys from New York in 1864.

End of Article

The picture accompanying the article shows all the children dressed in an institutional uniform. The group consists only of those 15 children who arrived in Fulton, IL, and may have been taken there. Fulton is but a few miles south of the Thomson area where most of the children were placed out, and was at that time the "end of the line", as the railroad bridge across the Mississippi River wasn't completed until later that year.

It is interesting to note that neither the Becks or Cochran commented on the circumstances of their "placing out", or the names of their parents. They, like the Groharings, were of the age when they came to Illinois to remember their experiences. Those memories must have been to bitter to share with others. Though the article mentions the "adoption" of several of the children, this certainly was not the case. At least not for the Groharings, Cochran, and the Becks. They had been indentured to the families with whom they had been placed. It is now believed that Edward actually was in the original group of 32 but was left with a family in Amboy, IL and moved with them to somewhere in Iowa a short time later. He joined his brothers when he was about 15, and lived in the Thomson area the rest of his life. His obituary supports this theory.

As with any genealogy, that of the Grauhering/Groharing family is a work in progress. Though our recent discoveries have certainly shed more light on our origins both in the United States and in Germany, there are still mysteries surrounding the "placing out" of Richard, Frederick William, and Edward. But at least we aren't "orphans" anymore.

Submitted to Illinois State Genealogical Society by:
Richard B. Groharing, P.O. Box 390, Morrison, IL 61270, April 10, 1994
Published: ISGS Quarterly, Vol. 26, Num. 3, Fall 1994