Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 5, Number 2, Fall, 1993 Page: 28
This periodical is part of the collection entitled: Legacies: a History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the Dallas Historical Society.
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The Berachah Home
"A Home for the Homeless and a Friend to the Friendless"
By Gerald D. Saxon
M AY 14, 1903, BROKE CLEAR and cool in Arlington,
at that time a small town of 1,100 people
nestled between Fort Worth and Dallas. The town
was abuzz with activity, certainly more than usual
for a spring Thursday. During much of the morning,
visitors from across the state began arriving on the
interurban and the train. By 11 a.m., an estimated
crowd of 300 to 400 people, visitors and residents
alike, gathered a mile south of town just off Cooper
Street, near the present intersection of Cooper and
Mitchell. The people had come to witness the
formal opening of the Berachah Industrial Home for
Girls, an institution operated by the Home Mission
and Rescue Commission of Texas and the Rev. J. T.
Upchurch, the driving force behind the commission.
The crowd first heard Mrs. Mary Francis
Rutherford of Ennis preach. This was followed by
a dinner on the seven-acre grounds and an opportunity
to tour the home itself. The Arlington Journal
commented, a week after the opening, that it was
surprised at the "magnificence of the building and its
cool, nice restful repose." At 3 p.m., Rev. Upchurch
gave a powerful sermon on rescuing "fallen women"
from lives without hope, without opportunity, and
without morals. Following Upchurch's stirring remarks
was Rev. Edward Barcus, pastor of the Methodist
Church, who closed the ceremonies by taking
up a collection for the home. A total of $35.00 was
raised that day for the Berachah Home. As night fell,
the visitors left town, the residents returned home,
and the excitement was subsiding.'
So began the Berachah Home which, over the
next thirty-two years, became an integral part of the
fabric of Arlington and a part of the lives of some
3,000 women who sought its services. The home,
like other "rescue homes" in the country at the time,
used a strong dose of evangelical religion and rigid
rules to attempt to "save" young women who had
strayed from the strict sexual code of the Victorian
period. Today's social historians view homes like
Berachah as an attempt to reinforce the nineteenth
century view of women as guardians of piety, purity,
and domesticity.2 Before the development of professionally
trained social workers, these homes were
often run by individuals imbued with a fundamentalist
moral code and a deep religious commitment.
This was certainly the case with the Berachah Home.
Indeed, the key to understanding the home
and its history is to understand James T. Upchurch,
its founder. Upchurch was born on October 29,
1870, in Bosqueville, McLennan County, Texas.
When James was three, his father died and his
mother began searching desperately for a family
member who could raise him. After shuffling him
from one relative to the next with no success, his
mother brought him back home to live with her.
Upchurch spent his adolescent years with his mother
and her new husband, an upbringing in which he
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Dallas County Heritage Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 5, Number 2, Fall, 1993, periodical, 1993; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35115/m1/30/?q=%22Berachah%20Home%22%20Legacies: accessed January 19, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.