Monday, July 7, 2014

An Adoption on a Train

Milton Patrick Riggin was adopted on a train while traveling from Troy, Illinois, to St Louis, Missouri.

Cast of Characters

Harrison "Harry" Riggin, my great grandmother's half-brother, married Nancy Amanda Bullock in 1886. They had five children during the the 13 years of their marriage before Nancy died -- Wesley, William, Harley Carl, Sadie May, and Milton, respectively. Harry worked long hours as a day laborer and apparently couldn't care for his five children.

Two of the three younger children were adopted; Harley Carl, by Frank and Kathy Meunch; and Sadie May, by her father's step-mother, Clementine, and her second husband, William Collins. Harley Carl was living with his uncle Thomas Albert Riggin's wife in 1910.  I never could figure out what happened to the baby of the family, Milton until I investigated a new shaky leaf on

Here's Milton's story by member allysonmt:

"...A man from a St Louis adoption agency came to Troy to pick up Milton. As he headed back to St Louis by train, Milton started screaming and crying very loudly. Fanny Brennan happened to be on the train, returning home to Caseyville from a visit to her brother, who lived in Troy. She had lost three sons over the previous eight years and she asked the man if she could hold the baby. Milton immediately calmed down in her arms and Fanny held him all the way to Caseyville. As she was leaving the train the man from the St Louis adoption agency asked her if she wanted to adopt him. Fanny agreed.  

Milton Patrick Riggin Brennan with a sibling from
his adoptive family; photo courtesy of
member allysonmt

At some point Fanny and her husband, Robert, got word to Harry Riggin and he came to visit his son. Harry remarried in 1903 and had several more children. Milton's older brother William moved to Texas and then to New Mexico. Fifty years after Milton was adopted, he visited William for the first time."

Wilhelmina Frances Kersey and her husband,
Robert Brennan; photo courtesy of
member allysonmt

Milton used the surname Brennan for the rest of his life. He married Grace Helen Murphy and together they had seven children. Milton died in 1965 and Grace in 1985. Milton is buried at Pierce Brothers Crestlawn Memorial Park in Riverside, California.

I am indebted to member, allysonmt, for her Brennan family photographs and Milton's adoption story and making her tree public to share with other members.


  1. You are so right-- such a sad but wonderful story! I love the way you credit allysonmt and ancestry for their parts in this journey of ours to find family. I am bad about not checking my shaky leaves clues, you have encouraged me to do so.

  2. Schalene,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Jana, thank you as always for highlighting one of my posts.

  3. Hi Schalene!

    Awesome story! Wanted to let you know that I highlighted it in a new weekly column we've started on the Ancestry blog ("What We Are Reading This Week"). Here's the link:

    1. There are some great reads in your new blog series. Thanks for including one of my posts. That's really something.