A mother reflects on her years at the “Methodist Home”
The Board of Child Care traces its roots to three orphanages operated by the United Methodist Church back in the 1890’s and early 1900’s (see our history here). We are fortunate to have some of the original admission cards. Former BCC Board member and archivist, Sally Ransom Knecht, manages our archive. Judy Johnson, whose mother had mentioned living at the Swartzell Home from age four to six, contacted her, and fortunately, Sally was able to find her original admission record. Judy was kind enough to send us a copy of her mother’s hand-written autobiography, which covered her life up until the age of 12. An excerpt of which is below.
The Board of Child Care is mentioned after Ruth describes how her father died very young from a stroke, and her mother, Lelah Mae, was unable to stay in their house:
“My mind next goes to the children’s Methodist home where I stayed from age 4 to 6. As Mother lost the home, and she had no trade, she sent my sister to live with my mother’s mother, and send my brother to my cousin’s farm. My sister was age 12 and my brother 14. Mother found a job as a seamstress in a department store. She was only allowed to see me at the children’s home every other week. It was a very structured environment, but kind. I think I was really molded during this time. I remember about 10-20 kids in a dorm, but don’t remember much of any special children. I remember the dorm lady as when mother was not able to come, she took me with her on a weekend and since it was so hot, I got heatstroke and they had to call a doctor. Another time people from the church would come and take me home for dinner and they had pansies on their walkway.”
~ Excerpt from the autobiography of Ruth Virginia Cissell Johnson Holcomb
Ruth Virginia Cissell Johnson Holcomb passed away on June 16, 2014 in Bryan, TX at the age of 90. Prior to retirement, she spent 32 years as the personnel manager for Sears. Ruth had four children, eight grandchildren, nine great grandchildren, and one great great grandchild.
To read her full handwritten autobiography, her original admission record to Swartzell Home, and her obituary, click here – Life of Ruth Virginia Cissell Johnson Holcomb (PDF 2 mb)