Select Page


RG0839.AM:  Toni (Mary Antoinette) Weiler, 1911-1996

Papers:  1960-1999

McCook, Red Willow County and Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska

Size:  1.5 cu.ft.


Born in New York City on June 16, 1911, Toni Weiler’s birth parents placed her in the New York Foundling Hospital. At that time the hospital gave her the name, Mary Brown. In 1913, when she was two years old, she was placed on an orphan train and taken to McCook, Nebraska. Her foster parents, George and Nellie Martin, named her Mary Antoinette Martin. She married Leo Weiler in 1932, and the couple had eight children. It wasn’t until 1980 that Toni finally discovered her parents were Irish immigrants named Murphy, who already had one child when she was born. Toni was a member of the Orphan Train Heritage Society of American and gave numerous talks to community and school groups about the orphan train experience. Toni Weiler died in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 31, 1996.


The collection consists of writings, research materials, correspondence, scrapbooks and ephemera relating to Toni Weiler’s experiences as an orphan train rider. Included are drafts of her reminiscences and talks she gave to school and community groups about orphan trains, as well as research materials she collected about the orphan trains and the New York Foundling Society.

Note:  There are 43 images that are part of the photo component [RG0839.PH].  The moving image component [RG0839.MI] consists of a VHS tape of “The Orphan Trains,” a documentary aired on PBS’s American Experience series.


Subject headings:

Children — Nebraska

New York Foundling Society

Orphan trains — Nebraska


Weiler, Toni (Mary Antoinette), 1911-1996