Real Name: Unrevealed
Case: Lost Brother
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Details: Seventy-year-old Sylvia K. Miick Wemhoff was born in 1918 in Brooklyn, New York and orphaned by 1921. She was one of several children who rode the orphan trains operating from 1854 to 1929, shuttling parentless children from New York to new homes in the Midwest. Sadly, many of them were separated from their siblings as a result.
Sylvia was one of many orphan train riders who were "pre-selected" by families. The "pre-selected" children had numbers assigned to them. When they arrived in town, they were sent to their adoptive families based on their assigned number. In 1921, Sylvia was sent on the orphan train to Columbus, Nebraska. She was adopted by the John Miick family who had a small farm in Lindsay, Nebraska. A male orphan train rider was also adopted by the family.
When Sylvia was seventeen, she began asking her adoptive parents about her birth parents. Years later, she located her birth certificate, which stated that her birth name was "Stephanie Wolk" and that her mother, Pauline Vitovich, an immigrant from Austria, already had another child. She also learned that her birth parents were deceased. She is now looking for her long-lost older sibling, along with any other siblings she may have.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the January 25, 1989 episode on orphan trains along with Margaret Murphy.
Results: Solved. Sylvia's brother, seventy-two-year-old Joseph Wolk, was found living in New York. His stepdaughter was watching the broadcast and realized that his mother's name was the same as Sylvia's mother's. A few weeks after the broadcast, they were reunited at Joseph's home. Sadly, both siblings have since passed away; Sylvia passed away in 2008 at the age of eighty-nine.
- Orphan train show airs Jan. 25
- Orphan train rerun set to air tonight
- Joe Wolk, 72: "I have a sister!"
- "We Rode the Orphan Trains" by Andrea Warren
- "Orphan Trains" by Kristin Johnson
- Sylvia's Obituary
- Sylvia Wemhoff at Find a Grave