Bayland Orphans' Home for Boys, a county home for dependent and delinquent boys, was chartered as the Confederate Orphans' Home on September 24, 1866, and organized in Houston on January 15, 1867, by Texas Confederate veterans. The institution was first located at Bayland on the west side of Galveston Bay near Morgan's Point, at a place that later became part of the Goose Creek oilfield. The nonsectarian home, planned to care for and educate up to 250 orphans of deceased Confederate soldiers, opened on August 13, 1867. Henry F. Gillette was superintendent from 1867 to 1882, and Col. Ashbel Smith served as staff doctor. Private support for the home came primarily from Galveston and Houston. In the 1870s the home received a share of state public lands, including acreage in Shackelford, Stevens, and Callahan counties. Agents for the institution were kept in the field to gather and accept donations of all kinds, and a small community church at Harmony Grove was moved to the site for use as a school. By 1878 the home owned a 328-acre farm and several buildings and had cash reserves.
In 1887, when Houston-Galveston packet travel ceased and Bayland became inaccessible, a decision was made to move the home to Houston. A charter amendment made on January 29, 1888, designated the new institution Bayland Orphans' Home Association and provided that it could accept any White orphan child from any county in the state. Mrs. Kezia Payne DePelchin, later connected with the DePelchin Faith Home, was elected matron of the new home on June 4, 1888. Around 1900 the home was moved from its original location on Galveston Bay to a thirty-six-acre tract in the Woodland Heights area three miles from Houston, with space for forty-two children.
Financial difficulties developed in the 1890s. A fire in 1914 destroyed the Bayland Avenue home, and the institution moved again in 1916 to a new tract ten miles south of Houston, near Bellaire, on land donated by Joseph F. Meyer. At this time a decision was reached to accept only boys, and the home was renamed Bayland Orphans' Home for Boys. In 1922 the institution was taken over by the county, which also agreed to erect a new building at Bellaire, to be known as Harris County Bayland Home, for dependent White female juveniles.
In 1936 the school and home were consolidated with the Harris County School for Boys and moved to a 115-acre tract in southeastern Harris County, four miles east of Webster. The institution became partially self-supporting from the diversified agriculture of its own plant. In 1946 the average age of the sixty-six boys at the home was thirteen. After this time the institution ceased to function strictly as the Bayland Orphans' Home. Boys attended public school at Webster, and efforts were made to place children in foster homes. On September 20, 1964, the Harris County Historical Survey Committee unveiled a bronze marker at the original site of the home.
Houston Metropolitan Research Center Files, Houston Public Library. Albert A. Walls, Study of Administrative Problems at Bayland Orphans' Home for Boys (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1947).
Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
Texas in the 1920s
Upper Gulf Coast
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Diana J. Kleiner,
“Bayland Orphans' Home For Boys,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed January 17, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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