Heritage, Winter 2004 Page: 36
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Buckner Children's Home in Dallas has cared for orphans and the less fortunate for more than a
century. At right, founder R.C. Buckner. Images courtesy of Buckner Baptist Benevolences.
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Historic Texas organization celebrating 125 years of service
By Scott Collins
One hundred twenty five years have passed since
R.C. "Father" Buckner founded an orphanage in
East Dallas in 1879. This year, the organization,
which still works to help the less fortunate, celebrates
Buckner's long and lasting legacy of care.
His peers and contemporaries knew Buckner as a man of ceaseless
energy and drive. He traveled Texas campaigning for the formation
of an orphan's home and found an ally in Texas Baptist
deacons. After a series of letters, he called for the formation of a
Texas Baptist Deacons Convention, which convened in Paris,
Texas, in 1877.
At the meeting, Buckner sponsored a resolution to begin an
orphan's home as soon as $2,000 could be raised. Those present
that day named him the fundraising agent for the project. Two
days later, Dr. Buckner collected his first funds, $27, when he
passed a hat among "fellow brethren" visiting under the shade of
an oak tree. The first dollar given was his very own. By the end of
1879 he had collected $1,200, which he supplemented with a personal
bank note. On April 9, 1879, a charter was filed with the
Secretary of State, and in December of the same year, Buckner
rented a small cottage in East Dallas to care for the first three
Within two years, Buckner had purchased 44 acres six miles
east of Dallas, where Buckner Children's Home still operates
today. Gradually adding land and property, the home owned more
than 500 acres by the turn of the century. The facility became
almost entirely self-sufficient with its own school, farming operation,
bakery, laundry, and eventually a radio station.
In addition to the orphanage, Buckner was also heavily
involved in community and state affairs. In 1877, he founded the
first high school in North Texas for African-Americans. He was
instrumental in establishing the Dallas Humane Society and
served as its president. He founded Children's Hospital in Dallas
in 1894 and was one of the driving forces behind the opening of
Baptist Memorial Sanitarium, now Baylor Healthcare System,
serving as president of the board from 1904-1908.
Today, Buckner is one of the largest and most diverse private
social care agencies of its kind in the nation. Under the leadership
of Dr. Kenneth L. Hall, the organization's fifth president,
Buckner is a vastly diversified ministry dedicated to the
restoration, care, and healing of children, families, and senior
Scott Collins is vice president of communications for Buckner Baptist
HERITAGE f WINTER 2004
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Winter 2004, periodical, Winter 2004; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45372/m1/36/: accessed June 14, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.