This is a bit of a family mystery, and I have to find time to travel home to solve it. My 3rd great-grandparents Bridget Gerhaty and John Brennan died in a very short time leaving their 4 children orphans.
According to family legend, John worked building railroads and his family moved along with him from place to place. They were camped in a tent city near Maysville, Indiana in the late 1860s-70s when Bridget was shot. It is told she was walking through the tent town to get supplies for the family when a stray bullet from the saloon tent came through the fabric striking and killing her in the street. The infant she was carrying in her arms was taken, and no confessed to the kidnapping. When John came back from work he was told what happened and was then faced with what to do with 3 young children, Timothy (about 10 years), Mary (about 6 years), and William (about 4 years).
He left the children at orphanages in Vincennes, Indiana with the intent to return for them when he was done. John was killed while working on the railroad and the legend states that it was in Kansas during an Indian raid. The boys were offered employment with the railroad as soon as they were of age, and I know that Mary as adopted by a family who took her to Indianapolis.
From what I understand, there was always a sense of curiosity about it in the family. It was tough to grow up without parents, but they did their best and looked out for each other. None of them ever knew for sure what happened, just what they were told by the Rail Road.
*Image: dok1 via photopin cc