Orphan Train - Wisconsin


Gertrude L. Bell
[Iris Gertrude Arrington]

Iris G. Arrington.  Her name before adoption, Gertrude L. BellBelow is the story of Gertrude L. Bell, who was placed in a home in Welton, [Clinton County], Iowa by H.D. Clarke.

Francis T. Arrington and Sarah (Sayre) Arrington adopted Iris in 1905.Gertrude was adopted by Francis and Sarah (Sayre) Arrington of Welton, IA in 1905. Below are copies of her emigration paper and a letter from the Children's Aid Society of NY, verifying her records. Also below is a letter written by H.D. Clarke to the Arringtons' in 1910. The Arringtons changed her name to Iris Gertrude. She married Wilferd Knight in 1928 and moved to Milton, [Rock County], WI.

The material presented is contributed to this site by John F. Knight, son of Gertrude L. Bell [Iris Gertrude Arrington] and Wilferd Knight. [Click on pictures to see larger format. Use your back browser button to return to this page.]



Letter to the Arringtons' from H. D. Clarke - 1910.Dodge Center, Minn., May 31st 1910.

Mr. and Mrs. Frank Arrington,
Welton, Iowa

Dear "Home Folks" !!! :- Returning home I remember that Iris told me I had "gotten" her birthday wrong. I do not know how I happened to have it the 23rd on my "daily" record book. Looking at my "daily record" book. Looking at my "orginal" records, I find it was May 20th O.K.

I also find what I do not remember that I have told you, perhaps have, that Iris' own father was named George and mother Lillian, both were Ohio people and Protestants. The mother brought Gertrude to the Home in Brooklyn, N.Y. August 12, 1903 when she was but 3 months old and has never since appeared. Our Society too her March 15, 1905 and I placed her with you the following May.


This need not be published in the

And we KNOW that every child has it's faults or inheritance. And we know that at the first thay are not responsible for them AND - YOU and I KNOW - that Iris has qualities most superior too many children and has the promise of usefulness and success. Her affection for you is unbounded. Whatever may be or may have been your anxieties, you are amply repaid thus far in the bright sunshine she has brought to your home. It is a joy to ME that I found such a home for her and a great joy that OLGA loves the child and is so tactful in helping her and you, in her care.

God Bless you all,
H. D. Clarke.

C. S. is out in the garden. Children well but exposed to measles. We are having a "measley" old time here abouts.

Letter from New York - 1964STATE OF NEW YORK

Nora P. Johnson, of the City, County and State of New York, being duly sworn, deposes and says that she is the Director of the Foster Home Department of the Children's Aid Society of New York; that she has examined the records of the Society and these records show that Iris Gertrude Arrington, named at birth Gertrude Bell, was born on May 20, 1903 in the City of New York and that she was received by the Children's Aid Society on March 15, 1905.

Signed Nora P. Johnson

Subscribed and Sworn to before
me on this 8th day of September 1964.

Dorthy Siegel
Notary Public, State of New York.



John F. Knight contributor of the above material discovered while reading the biography of H.D. Clarke, that H.D. Clarke is his great, great uncle (by adoption), as H.D. Clarkes' daughter Mabel married his grandmother's (Sarah C. Sayre) Arrington's brother Charles. He knew that Aunt Mabel was a Clarke, but always thought Clarke was spelled Clark.

Clark Kidder, author Orphan Trains and Their Precious Cargo - The Life's Work of Reverend H. D. Clarke pg. 200 adds the following about Gertrude L. Bell (Iris Arrington):

Maxwell, Iowa Distribution - May 18th, 1905.

This company was one of special interest and some of the wards made extra good. Miss Anna L. Hill was with me and had charge of an extra fine baby I had reserved for special friends among Seventh Day Baptists at Welton, Iowa. Her name was Gertrude L. Bell. She was just two days short of being two years old, being born May 20th, 1903. She came from the Sheltering Arms Nursery of Brooklyn, New York. She was left there by her mother on August 12th, 1903. Her father's name was George and her mother's name was Lillian. She was received by the Children's Aid Society on March 15th, 1905. She was legally adopted by Frank and Sarah Arrington. Her foster sister there was Olga Arrington, a very talented girl; an artist, poet and lover of birds, as well as Church organist. She was a very active and useful young woman. Gertrude Arrington studied music and became a proficient teacher of such in Chicago and at home."


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this page last edited 14 Mar 2004