Texarkana Baptist Orphanage
The Texarkana Baptist Orphanage, founded in 1906 and chartered in 1907, is a charitable ministry of the churches of the State Association of Missionary Baptist Churches of Arkansas. During its almost a century of operation, it has assisted several thousand needy boys and girls. It is administered by a board of five directors appointed annually and is supported by offerings from Missionary Baptist churches of the American Baptist Association across the country. It also enjoys widespread support within the Texarkana (Miller County) business and professional community. Although children of Baptist parents are given first priority, the home is open to all “orphaned, dependent, and neglected” children. Originally, children who met these criteria were referred to the home by Arkansas Missionary Baptist churches and ministers. Since 1946, the home has also taken in many needy wards of the courts.
The home, situated in Texarkana (in Arkansas) since it opened in 1908, was first located on an eight-acre campus at 29th and Garland streets east of State Line Cemetery in the former Texarkana Industrial College building. This location provided enough room for the home to operate a small farm. During its first year, it took in twelve children. Despite a fire in 1914 that destroyed the first facility, the home flourished in this location until 1953. During this period, it cared for the needs of hundreds of children. That year, its operations were moved to a new ninety-four-acre campus near the corner of highways 82 and 237 in southeastern Texarkana, and its farming operations expanded. However, with some forty children on hand, a major expansion of the home’s buildings was undertaken in 1967. Early in the 1990s, additional renovations and improvements transformed the home’s campus into a community showpiece with state-of-the-art facilities, including a large multipurpose building.
The home’s first three superintendents were Josephus B. Sellman, Thomas H. Carter, and Wesley M. Davis. Each October, former residents return for a reunion.
For additional information:
Ashcraft, Robert. Pioneer Faith: The History of Missionary Baptist Associations and Churches in Arkansas from 1818 to 1920. Malvern, AR: History and Archives Committee State Association of Missionary Baptist Churches of Arkansas, 1994.
Texarkana Baptist Orphanage Trustees. Texarkana Baptist Orphanage (Because We Care). Texarkana, TX: 1994.
Russell P. Baker
Arkansas History Commission and State Archives
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