Buckner Baptist Benevolences developed out of the Buckner Orphans Home, a children's home in Dallas, which opened in 1879. In 1961 the home's charter was changed to reflect its expanding network of services, and the new entity was named Buckner Baptist Benevolences. In the preceding decades the Buckner home had expanded to include additional locations. In 1918 at Goodnight, Buckner opened a Panhandle Department for the care of destitute children, with B. H. Warren as principal. It was closed in 1920 after a fire destroyed the main building. In 1949 Buckner assumed responsibility for a special unwed mothers' unit, Bethesda Home, in San Antonio, a project of Baptist churches of that city. In August of the same year a groundbreaking ceremony was held near Burnet, Texas, for a 2,000-acre boys' ranch, for school-age boys who needed an encouraging, structured environment. This unit, Buckner Boys' Ranch, soon cared for seventy boys in five cottage dormitories, a church, a central dining hall, and a gymnasium. In 1951 the home purchased forty-five acres of land in residential Houston for the location of Texas Baptist Haven, a new Buckner home for the aged. Ellis L. Carnett was elected as Buckner's new president on March 7, 1952. Under his tenure the home further expanded its ministries with the Trew Home for the Aged in Dallas (1953–54), a new Teacherage addition (1953), and Foster Care, Adoption Services, Mother's Aid, and Homemaker's Service programs in several Texas cities. In 1957 Buckner opened a Girls' Home in Lubbock, later for both girls and boys. The same year Buckner took a major step forward when it formed the Department of Social Services and named Bill Baker as director, responsible for coordinating all the units of Buckner's benevolences. By 1960 the board of directors began selling portions of Buckner's 3,000-acre Dallas holdings, in accordance with the provision of the founder, to invest all proceeds in endowment funds. The directors retained the campus and its immediate environs, the interest from which became the "seed corn" for Buckner's future financial stability. Thus the foundation was set for the formal change in the home's charter to the title of Buckner Baptist Benevolences and its encompassing directives.
The young R. C. Campbell replaced Carnett as president on January 15, 1963. Campbell's tenure of more than thirty years has been marked by growth and by Buckner's ability to adopt programs to meet the needs of society's most vulnerable persons. By 1965 Buckner had opened a remedial learner-vocational preparation school on its Dallas campus. In 1966 the Lubbock Home moved to a new campus located on Fourth Street, designed as a regional social service center to provide for child care, marriage and family counseling, maternity care, adoption, and aging services. The Frank Ryburn Home for the Aging also opened that year, as well as a new maternity home, both in Dallas. Buckner-sponsored foster group homes, a pioneering venture in the area of social work, cosponsored by Baptist churches or associations, sprang up in San Antonio, Tyler, Vernon, Brownsville, and Kerrville. The decade of the 1970s brought greater responsibility to Buckner when, during the spring of 1975, an entire Vietnamese orphanage fled from the Communists to take up residence at the Buckner Home in Dallas. Two Austin nursing homes, Villa Siesta and Monte Siesta, were added in 1970, as well as the Beaumont Children's Home, which moved to a new campus in 1979. In time, the maternity homes in San Antonio and Dallas were replaced by homes for children and seniors, respectively. Treatment centers for the emotionally disturbed, drug rehabilitation facilities, day-care programs, emergency shelters, and abandoned and abused women's and children's programs were developed.
Buckner celebrated its centennial year in 1979 with extensive planning for future service. The 1980s and 1990s were decades of fine-tuning existing programs as well as addressing the needs of growing numbers of homeless mothers with a new program of residential care and vocational-educational guidance. As of 1992, Buckner provided more than forty programs in seventeen Texas cities: residential and foster care, emergency shelters, juvenile centers and rehabilitation programs, adoption services for children of all ages, therapeutic centers for emotionally disturbed and abused children, substance-addiction treatment centers, a Christian camp, maternity care, and a homeless mothers' and children's program. Senior citizens receive care in residential facilities, hospitals, retirement villages, and Alzheimer's and related illness centers. In 1992, with total net assets reaching $97,659,000, Buckner cared for 3,518 children and adolescents and 1,021 seniors.
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Archives, Buckner Baptist Benevolences, Dallas. James Milton Carroll, A History of Texas Baptists (Dallas: Baptist Standard, 1923). J. B. Cranfill and J. L. Walker, R. C. Buckner's Life of Faith and Works (Dallas: Buckner Orphans Home, 1915; 2d ed. 1916).
Dallas/Fort Worth Region
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Karen O'Dell Bullock,
“Buckner Baptist Benevolences,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 20, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
August 1, 1995
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: