A Brief History of OBHC

Reverend J. A. Scott gave his wife credit for the beginning of the Oklahoma Baptist Orphans Home. Soon after they came to Oklahoma City, he accepted the call as pastor of the Washington Avenue Baptist Church. Very soon after Reverend Scott began his ministry, Mrs. Scott met a mother who was near death and living in a little shack in an alley near the church. The mother asked Mrs. Scott to find a home for her baby. The girl, Gladys Smith, lived in the Scott home until the formal opening of the Oklahoma Baptist Orphans Home, March 15, 1903. The first location of the Home was in a little house on Pottawatomie Street (Neither Washington Avenue Baptist Church nor Pottawatomie Street exist in Oklahoma City today).

On June 1, 1903, the Home was moved to a frame building on one and a half stories on West Pottawatomie Street. Nine children were in residence. In 1905, the joint Boards of the Baptist General Convention of Indian Territory and the Oklahoma State Baptist Convention accepted a bid from Oklahoma City of 40 acres of land and $2,000 to move the Home to its location at NW 63rd and Pennsylvania. Ownership of the Home was transferred to the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma in 1917.

Historical Marker

Orphans Home Sign

A sign marks the original location of the Baptist Orphan’s Home in Oklahoma City.

Boy Holding Birthday Bank

The Birthday Bank is a donation method churches began using in the early 1900s to provide help for children in the care of OBHC. In the early years, the gift was usually a penny for each birthday celebrated. As time went by, the penny became a dollar and so on.

The Department of Child Care was established in 1956 and entrusted by the Convention with the operation of Christian services to children and their families. In 1985, the Department of Child Care and the Department of Retirement Centers and chaplaincy were combined to create the Special Care Ministries Office. In 1988, the name was changed to Family Care Ministries Office and included the Child Care, Adult Care, and Special Care Ministries. A separation of Adult Care and Child Care in 1993 created two new entities. In that year, Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children was established as an affiliate corporation of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma with its own President and Board of Trustees. OBHC is now the largest provider of private, non-profit residential child care in the state.

Rev. and Mrs. J.A. Scott
1903 Rev. and Mrs. J.A. Scott

Oklahoma Baptist Orphans’ Home began when Mrs. J.A. Scott (Theodocia Gresham Scott) brought the first of many children into her home. Before moving from Kentucky to Oklahoma Territory, she had a desire to serve in ministry to children. Her husband, Reverend Scott, was the pastor of Washington Avenue Baptist Church at Oklahoma Station, now Oklahoma City.

In 1902, the Baptist General Convention of Indian Territory and the Oklahoma Baptist State Convention voted to support the Baptist Orphans’ Home. The following January, J.A. Scott was elected superintendent and manager with the power to open a home and employ help as he thought necessary.

Gladys Smith and Annabelle Hunt
1903 Gladys Smith and Annabelle Hunt

Gladys Smith and Annabelle Hunt were the first two children the Scotts brought into their home.

A three-week-old baby girl whose mother was near death and living in a little shack in an alley near Washington Avenue Baptist Church was the first child the Scotts brought into their home. The little girl, Gladys Smith, lived in the Scott's home until the formal opening of the Oklahoma Baptist Orphans’ Home.

Left in a wagon in Pauls Valley, Indian Territory, Annabelle Hunt became the second baby taken into the Orphans’ Home. She was two months old. The Oklahoma Baptist Orphans’ Home opened March 15, 1903, and welcomed three more little girls into its shelter. Three months later, the Home was moved to a six-room rented house on West Pottawatomie Street and had grown to include nine children.

Miss Winnie Mitchell and Others at First House
1903 Miss Winnie Mitchell First House

Winnie Mitchell (left), with house matrons and children at Orphans' Home on West Pottawatomie Street.

The first permanent house matron of the Orphans' Home was Miss Winnie Mitchell. She later served as home superintendent from 1903-1906. She was known to share with others in need, even though her salary was only $3 a week.

New Property 1907
1907 New Property

The new property, purchased in 1907 at NW 63rd and Pennsylvania Avenue, was seven miles outside Oklahoma City limits. The children, and everything else, were loaded on a lumber wagon. The oldest boy in residence drove the horses to the new location of Oklahoma Baptist Orphans’ Home. The new three-and-a-half-story building, Old North, sat on 40 acres. Old North provided housing for up to 46 children and administration offices for the staff. It was the only building on the 40-acre campus until 1918.

William McKinney
1907 William McKinney

Prince and Bill were horses the children rode and loved. This photograph was taken during McKinney's administration. William McKinney can be seen standing between the two horses.

William McKinney served as superintendent from 1907-1915. He faced the challenges of operating the Orphans’ Home in the state’s poor economy. The Home survived because Oklahoma Baptists generously gave to the ministry.

Boys in Crowded Conditions
1933 Crowded Conditions

Young boys are shown here in crowded conditions of Old North in the 1930s.

Each campus is unique but all share the same mission:

To demonstrate God’s love by providing hope through empowering children and their families to follow Christ.

Each campus is unique but all share the same mission:

To help children, provide homes, support families and bring hope.

Now, more than 120 years later, Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children has seen thousands of children come through our doors and while our ministry has grown and expanded over the years, our focus has always been to serve children and show the people in our care, the love of Christ.

The Heritage Room opened in 2021, and is located at our Oklahoma City Campus at 16301 S. Western.

Schedule a visit for you, your family or a group by contacting Candy Hines or Brent Parson by calling the campus at 405.691.7781..

Or you may use the feedback form on this page to have a representative email or call you to discuss details of your group’s visit.

External link to form: https://form.jotform.com/OBHC/heritage

See and experience for yourself the origins and impact of Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children by visiting the newly constructed Heritage Room. For more than 120 years Oklahoma Baptists have answered the call to care for orphans, advocate for families, stand for life and walk with individuals and families from darkness to light. The engaging staff of our OKC Campus would love the opportunity to celebrate with you what the Lord has done in the past and share with you the vision that God has given us for the future.