Orphan Train - Wisconsin


George Spence

from the 1908 Beloit (Wisconsin) Daily News

Taken Off Orphans' Train
   To Life Of Bitter Cruelty

George Spence, Beaten With Heavy Club, Sent
to Detention Home

Milwaukee, Nov, 27 — Ten years ago on a cold night in January in Milwaukee, among a trainload of hundreds of orphans sent from New York and shipped about the country in quest of guardians, sat little 3-year-old George Spence.

Spence was the name of his parents of whom all trace has now been lost, but on the orphans' special he was known as No. 17, because that number was sewed on his sleeve.

A few minutes after the train arrived here John Pacala, a laborer, 801 Eleventh avenue, entered the car and took the child to his home. Young Spence, now 13 years old, appeared in junvenile <sic> court bearing marks of inhuman treatment and Judge Neelen, taking him from Pacala, sent him to the county home for dependent children.

A tale of suffering told by the waif, who was given the name of Alfred Pacala by his self-chosen guardian, was corroborated by Supt. Zachariah Clayton, Wisconsin Humane society. He admitted the theft, but during his confession Judge Neelen noticed his red and swollen ears and his apparent hesitancy in talking as he looked at his guardian.

When Judge Neelen asked what caused his ears to appear so, Mr. Clayton said young Spence had been made to work hard by Pacala, who had frequently lifted him in the air by his ears and held him there for several minutes, and had beaten him with whips and with a sawed off ball club, the top of which was filled with lead. He said the boy's body was a mass of bruises and cuts.

Officials stated that Pacala is the third of the New York orphans who has been sent to the Detention home and taken from guardians because of inhuman treatment.


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this page last edited 06 Dec 2003