NOTC unveils 27th Orphan Train Rider statue
The National Orphan Train Complex unveiled the 27th Orphan Train Rider statue Monday at Taco John's.
Sponsored by Les and Karen Freeman, the statue honors Orphan Train Rider Walter “Zeke” White.
White was the son of George and Annie White, both English immigrants and the parents of eight children.
Annie White passed away in 1908 leaving George with five young children. By January 1909, the children were placed in multiple orphanages.
Walter, John and Albert eventually came under the care of the Children's Aid Society and were placed out in Kansas.
Walter, at 15-years-old, was placed out in Peabody, Kan. in May 1911. After leaving the original placement, he found a loving home with the Erwin W. Slaymaker family.
In 1917, Walter, who was a farm laborer for H.N. Baker, registered for World War I. He enlisted in the Army and was sent to Camp Funston at the beginning of the Spanish influenza epidemic. He recovered from influenza and was able to visit his sister Georgiana in New York in 1919.
Walter married Dorothy Geer and had three sons, Wallace, Lee Erwin and John. He ran a restaurant for many years before working as a mail carrier and janitor. He was very active in his community, belonging to the Odd Fellows and the American Legion and even participating in a wrestling match.
In 1956, at the age of 60, Walter experienced a long bout of illness and died from suicide.