Robert Cooke Buckner, a Baptist pastor from Tennessee, provided the motivation and leadership that resulted in the establishment of Buckner Orphans Home in 1879. He promoted the home through his newspaper, the Texas Baptist. At his encouragement, the Baptist Deacons' Convention passed a resolution at its annual meeting in Paris, Texas, in 1877 to start an orphan's home as soon as $2,000 had been raised. Buckner was named fund-raising agent. Two days later he initiated the first fund-raising effort during a Baptist Sunday school convention, also in Paris. Passing a hat among his fellow brethren under an oak tree, he collected the first twenty-seven dollars. Buckner wrote the charter and filed it with the state of Texas on April 9, 1879. The home was opened in a rented house in Dallas the following December with three children. In September 1880 Buckner purchased the permanent site, a forty-four-acre tract in east Dallas, priced at seventeen dollars an acre. Members of the board knelt in a log cabin on the property two days later and dedicated the home. Six children were moved to a new residence on the site in 1881. The home still operated at this location in 1989. By the turn of the century the home cared for almost 500 children. In 1914 Buckner asked the Baptist General Convention of Texas to take over operation in order to assure its future. He died on April 9, 1919, still serving as general manager. When leadership was passed to his two sons, there were around 600 children in the home. The two new leaders launched one of the largest building campaigns in Buckner's history to modernize and update the campus. In the next twenty years a completely new campus emerged–including twenty fire-proof buildings and paved streets. The home's junior and senior high schools were upgraded and accredited in the 1920s. Forty years later the children began attending public schools in the community.
In 1948 Buckner began enlarging its boundaries and services. Its first expansion was to San Antonio, where it took over the operation of a home for unwed mothers. Three years later it opened Buckner Boys Ranch in the Hill Country. In 1953 it opened its first retirement home in Dallas, followed two years later by a second home in Houston. A home for girls was established in Lubbock the following year.
In 1961 Buckner Orphans Home was rechartered as Buckner Baptist Benevolences, a name more appropriate for its expanding services, and the home was renamed Buckner Baptist Children's Home. The home periodically alters its services to meet the critical needs of the day. In addition to basic care, it has added an emergency shelter, an educational and vocational training program for male juvenile delinquents, probated through the court system, and a residential substance-abuse aftercare program for males up to age eighteen. In 1989 the Children's Home annually cared for more than 600 children, and helped another 380 children through programs of foster care and mother's aid. Its budget was $4.2 million. Buckner Children's Home is located on South Buckner Boulevard in Dallas. Operation of the home is directed through a twenty-seven-member board of trustees elected annually by the Baptist General Convention of Texas. In 1995 the home cared for an average of 160 children throughout the year.
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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). B. F. Fuller, History of Texas Baptists (Louisville, Kentucky: Baptist Book Concern, 1900).
Dallas/Fort Worth Region
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Betty Ensminger Patterson,
“Buckner Baptist Children's Home,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 18, 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: