The couple spoke only French, frequently visited friends, attended Catholic Church regularly and lived like most rural families of that time. Unfortunately the couple was not blessed with any children to love and to help on the farm. That situation was to change when the local priest spoke to his parishioners about the plight of the many poor orphans in New York who were being offered for adoption to rural families of the Catholic faith. A catalog with the pictures of all the children who were available was shown to Albert and Eva, who would soon become foster parents of Alfred Thomas Brenner, renamed Alfred Landry.
The couple anxiously waited for his arrival and soon that day in 1913 came. They proceeded to the Lafayette train station to pick up their son who was on the orphan train coming from New Orleans on its way to Opelousas. He was identified by a name tag, which the family still has on display.
Alfred was born on March 7, 1910, to Ida May Jenks, who was 20 years old, unmarried, and living at 353 14th Street in Brooklyn. She was a native of England but little else is known about her. Records seem to indicate that after her child was brought to New York Foundling, she moved to Connecticut.
Baptismal records indicate that she named Alfred Thomas Brenner as the father, who was a printer by profession. Alfred Thomas Brenner was born in America, was 28 years of age and living at 26 Crown St., Brooklyn. Ida and Alfred lived within walking distance of each other in Brooklyn, a distance of less than two miles.
Albert and Eva adored their new son. Alfred appreciated the opportunity he received and dreamed for a better life than he would have experienced as a street kid in Brooklyn – a dream to succeed in life, and assure that his children would be educated and successful.
Alfred married Lucille Babin and the couple raised five children. Their eldest daughter, Delores, is married to Dr. Russell Romero of Loreauville. Eldest son Russell Landry is a retired game warden and was married to the late Jeanell. Second son Calvin carried on the family tradition of farming. Daughter Elaine married Ward Breaux, a shipbuilder in Loreauville. Third son Alfred Landry Jr. married Debbie Bertrand and is in the trucking business.
Alfred and Debbie’s daughter, Alaina, was so pleased with the accomplishments of Orphan Train rider and grandfather, Alfred Thomas Brenner Landry, that she prepared a school project about the subject. There are so many questions that the Landry family would like to have answered: What eventually happened to Ida Jenks and Alfred Thomas Brenner? Did either have other children, and if so would they like to meet their long lost relatives? Let us hope that one day the continued research is incorporated into the Louisiana Orphan Train Museum’s St. Martin Parish section for the benefit of future generations.
Ida May Jenks immigrated to America from England for a better life and to live the American dream. Unfortunately, she was forced to make a very difficult decision for what she considered best for her child. If she was alive today, she would undoubtedly be very content that her descendents, at least, are living the American dream.
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