Someone stole a statue that sits at the door of the museum. Apparently they didn’t just steal it — the thieves somehow cut it at the ankles — leaving behind only the shoes of the orphan.

Flo Inhern of the museum, says the Louisiana Orphan Train Museum in Opelousas is one of only two museums of its kind the entire U.S.  In the early 1900’s, there were thousands of homeless and abandoned children in New York. Unable to find homes for them, many of the children were loaded onto trains and brought to Louisiana to be adopted.

Inhern says it’s a story that’s been left untold. “They stopped for milk, food and whatever else they needed to feed the children,” adds Inhern.

Inhern’s father-in-law was an orphan train rider. Inhern says to see the statue stolen reminds her of the stigma the train riders had to endure. She explains that it hurts. “Whoever did this I hope their conscious hurts them enough that they come forward and either return it or admit to it.”

Barbara Jesclard’s grand-father was an orphan train rider. “It cost us a lot of money.  We don’t get paid for what we do.  We raise money through donations and giving tours and all that,” adds Jesclard. Jeslcard is the one who first discovered the statue missing on Wednesday morning. “It’s just heart breaking.  Whoever did this I wish they would just bring it back.””

Jesclard says all the volunteers who help share the stories of the train riders hope for the statue’s return. The museum is used and loved by many people who want to know the history of Louisiana and in particular Acadiana.  “We would love for them to return it because we could definitely restore it to where it was at,” says museum volunteer Martha Aubert.