Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children


1903 to 1912

Mr. and Mrs. J.A. Scott

In 1903, Scott was elected superintendent and manager with the power to open a home and employ help as he thought necessary.
Rev. and Mrs. J.A. Scott
Rev. & 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.

The story in James Allen Scott's words (from a manuscript dated 1936) copied from "The Child Care Ministry of Oklahoma Baptists" by J.M. Gaskin:

Now this institution was born in the heart of Mrs. J.A. Scott. While I was in the Seminary at Louisville, Kentucky, we frequently visited the Louisville Baptist Orphanage and the Masonic Orphans' Home. It was often expressed that if we ever were to go to Oklahoma, if others had not, we wanted to start a Baptist orphanage. The way did not open in our first coming to Oklahoma, but when we took the work at Washington Avenue in Oklahoma City the Lord opened the way and three children were put in our hands. Others came unsolicited.

We secured the services of Mrs. (Laura) Purcell for a few months as temporary matron, who resided on Chickasaw Street in Oklahoma City.  At this time we secured Miss Winnie Mitchell (now Mrs. W.A. Everett) as a teacher. She became our first permanent matron at a salary of $3 a week, and she didn't usually get all that, and often turned part of it back into the Home.

Previous to this at the Oklahoma Territory Baptist Convention that met at Norman, Oklahoma, in the fall of 1902, I asked the Convention to endorse the appointment of a Board of Trustees, one from each Association, which was done. These trustees were selected by the Convention and I was selected as superintendent.

Read about Gladys Smith and Annabelle Hunt, the first two children at the Orphans' Home.

Mrs. Scott visited Associations and helped to lay the Orphans’ Home on the hearts of the Baptist people of Oklahoma, whose number was small at that time. Up to this time there had been very little help given of any sort except by the Washington Avenue Baptist Church of which I was pastor and founder. Mrs. Scott and I divided our meager salary with the Home.

The first charter was issued by the first Territorial Secretary of Oklahoma to J.A. Scott, my brother W.T. Scott, and W.A. Roe. There was a demand for a tract of land and buildings to house and care for the children as the building occupied was insufficient. Through Robert Chowning, a trustee and treasurer, we purchased for the Home forty acres where the Home is now permanently located and the various buildings stand.

I will give some dates and data from a record kept by Miss Mitchell during her administration as matron and afterwards superintendent. On June 1, 1903, the Home was moved to 220 West Pottawatomie Street in a frame building, one and a half stories high, six rooms on the ground floor, not modern.

The Home had grown to nine children. Mrs. Purcell’s health failed and Miss Mitchell was made permanent matron. Three weeks later, at a Board meeting, she was given permanent charge of the Home. Then Miss Mitchell’s salary was raised to $5 a week and she served about five years (it was probably about three instead of five years) as superintendent from 1903. Dr. E.D. Jeter was elected superintendent and served one year. The forty acres of land was purchased under my administration and the basement foundation of the present building was laid. In 1906 we had thirty-one children. Miss Mitchell and Mrs. Scott carried them to the Assembly at Sulphur (forerunner to Falls Creek), Oklahoma, and other points. During the first two years of Miss Mitchell’s administration there were frequently from five to seven bottle babies and she had but one regular helper at that time.

At the Convention in the fall (1806) W.A. McKinney was elected superintendent but did not accept until the following June (1907). (William Alonzo McKinney died at the age of 82 on March 30, 1953, at his home in Oklahoma City. A native Kansan, McKinney graduated from Baylor University, pastored in Texas before coming to Oklahoma where he served churches in Durant, Ardmore, and Marietta. He was superintendent of the Home from 1907 until 1916).

I shall not here attempt to give a history of each of the superintendents and the internal workings of the Home because I do not have all the information and I am supposing a correct record has been kept of all that.

Miss Mitchell left the home at the time she married W.A. Everett. The Home was controlled by W.A. McKinney at that time and a Board of directors. Then the State Convention (BGCO) in 1915 took over the management of the Home under the direction of J.C. Stalcup, superintendent of Missions (Corresponding Secretary).

As for Miss Mitchell, the world will never know, and but few Baptists know, the sacrifice she made for the Home. She has never been given her dues in the Baptist press for her sacrifice financially, socially, and in a business way. She was a fine business woman. To these two women, Mrs. JA. Scott and Miss Mitchell, humanly speaking, is largely due and planting and maintaining of the Home for several years. I tried to lay it on the hearts of Baptists of Oklahoma, and as they learned about it they graciously supported its interest. Many more children could have been received had the finances justified it.

Now  (1936)

Arriving in Oklahoma City May 22, 1936, I was asked by Dr. (Andrew) Potter to visit the Home with him for lunch. His wife was present also. There were about one hundred fifty children at the table. They give Dr. Potter a fine expression of appreciation and seemed joyful to meet him as the superintendent. He gave me an introduction to the children and I was given a hearty reception when he told them that Mrs. Scott and I were the founders of the Home and had to do with the starting of the buildings of the Home.

I went back on Monday to visit the buildings, the inside of the buildings, the rooms, and other furnishings have recently (1936) been repaired under Dr. Potter’s administration as superintendent. The kitchen with its new gas range is up to date in every way, clean from floor to ceiling, wholesome, and sanitary food was furnished. They evidently had a fine cook. It was a well balanced meal in every way.

Among the local employees there is a happy fellowship and social equality, from Mrs. W.E. Dicken, head matron, and Brother (H. Truman Maxey, resident manager to all the employees). All the employees appeared happy and content with their fellowship and service. They do not seem to take their work as a task, but as one of joyful, loyal service.

As most of the people know there is a well organized Baptist Church in the Home. Brother Maxey is the pastor and Mrs. Dicken is superintendent of the school. They have a splendid Sunday School, a B.T.U. organization, a senior B.Y.P.U., intermediates, two Juniors, with a Story Telling Hour. The WMU Auxiliaries are led by Miss Wallis, two R.A.’s,, two G.A.’s, Y.W.A. and Sunbeam Band. Six young people graduated from High School this year.

The following buildings are located at the Home: A Boys’ Dormitory, donated by Carrie Martin; a Girls’ Dormitory; the Administration Building, which is the original building; the Dining Room and Chapel, made possible by the Jessie Ikard estate: and Employees’ Home; laundry building, milk house, and storage; two barns; one hay shed; three garage buildings: two out buildings. The laundry was repaired and two steam presses bought. A new roof was put on the laundry and on each of the three large buildings, also asphalt covering on the dining room and chapel. The refrigeration system was completely overhauled, and a new kitchen range brought. Each building was redecorated and each bathroom rebuilt and four 100 gallon hot water heaters installed. New electric wiring was placed throughout. Forty new beds were purchased, including springs and new mattresses. New dressers have been placed in the Girls’ building.

Six of those attending high school graduated this year, five girls and one young man. Four of the older boys have been put in suitable homes and positions for themselves so that they may touch business life and may know how to meet life in all its relationships. During this summer several other of the girls and older boys have been placed in good homes to return by the time school opens in the fall. This policy is likewise is to be commended.

"There is no reason now why the Baptists of Oklahoma should not in every church and auxiliary heartily support the Home. Its management is of the highest order. I have visited a great many Orphans’ Homes in my time and I have found none of its age and size, which, under the recent plans and repairs and present superintendent, surpass it." J.A. Scott

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