Orphans and Waifs in Early Madison County
Orphans in the 19th century were not defined the same as today. The term “orphan,” now recognized as someone without parents, in those days also included waifs, that is, homeless, neglected or abandoned children. Throughout this article “orphan” will refer to both waifs and orphans who are simply children with no adult to care for them. An “orphan” might actually have one, or perhaps two, surviving parents, but those parents abandoned them because they were physically or financially unable to provide for them.