Southwestern Presbyterian Home and Service Agency

Type: General Entry

Southwestern Presbyterian Home and Service Agency, in Hill County, originally Southwestern Presbyterian Home and School for Orphans, was founded in 1902, when C. C. Weaver requested the Presbyterian Synod of Texas to establish an orphanage. In October 1903 members of the synod traveled to Milford, Ellis County, home of Texas Presbyterian College, where they secured a charter and made plans to receive bids for an orphanage. In December 1904 they selected a site located on an elevated plateau that overlooked Files Valley, 5½ miles east of Itasca in Hill County. Mr. and Mrs. D. J. Files donated 360 acres of land and $3,000 in cash for the orphanage. An administrative staff under the direction of the institution's first president, J. D. McLean, oversaw the financing, construction, and initial enrollment of the first class over the next two years. In the spring of 1906 two spacious wood-and-brick residential buildings welcomed the first twenty-two children to their new home and school. The Files Cottage for Boys and the Grace Knox Home for Girls were gifts of Pat E. and Will I. Hooker of Itasca and Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Knox of Dallas. A matron resided in each cottage and was responsible for the children. In addition to the cottage, the grounds also held a twelve-grade elementary school, a laundry room, a barn, a dairy, and the president's home, provided by Simon Fraser and known as the Simon Fraser Annex. In 1910 the board amended the original charter to allow the synods of Arkansas and Oklahoma to have joint control of the institution. For the next forty-seven years the operated under the 1910 charter. During that time school enrollment hovered around 100. In 1955 the institution merged with the Presbyterian Child Placement Agency to form the Presbyterian Children's Home and Service Agency with offices in Itasca, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Two years later the board of trustees voted to discontinue the school and enroll the children in the nearby public schools at Itasca. Over the next twenty-five years the institution gradually shifted its care to dependent and neglected children rather than orphans. In 1980 sixty children lived in the cottages of the Southwestern Presbyterian Home.

Hill County Historical Commission, A History of Hill County, Texas, 1853–1980 (Waco: Texian, 1980). William Stuart Red, A History of the Presbyterian Church in Texas (Austin: Steck, 1936).
  • Religion
  • Presbyterian
  • Health and Medicine
  • Homes and Orphanages
  • Hospitals, Clinics, and Medical Centers

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Anonymous, “Southwestern Presbyterian Home and Service Agency,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 27, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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