The Confederate Orphans’ Home of Mississippi was established, as its name indicates, expressly to take care of the destitute orphans of Confederate soldiers. At the end of the War between the States the number of helpless and destitute children in the South was appalling. It was felt that something must be promptly done for their relief, but how to help them most effectively was perhaps the hardest and most serious problem that confronted the Southern people in the impoverished condition of the country. Different sections attempted to solve it in different ways. This paper will contain a history of the most noteworthy effort of the people of Mississippi to meet the situation. It will be borne in mind that owing to the existing condition of the South this institution differed in many ways from every other home of the kind in Mississippi either before or since the war. It therefore stands alone in the history of orphanages in the State in respect both to its constitution and to its methods of operation.

     The Mississippi Baptist State Convention during its first session after the war, in the fall of 1865, directed its attention to the needs of the orphans of the State. After earnest, prayerful deliberation it decided upon founding an institution where these unfortunate children could be gathered, cared for comfortably and educated properly, in order that they might become useful, honorable, self-reliant citizens.

‘For some facts and dates mentioned in this sketch the writer is pleased to acknowledge her indebtedness to Dr. 17. J. Deupree, now of Jackson, Tenn., the Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of The Home; and to Prof. J. A. Cranberry, of Oklahoma, a son of the first Superintendent. Prof. Cranberry was a boy at the home, and like any wide awake boy became cognizant of many things that would not be noticed by an employee with whose work they were not especially connected.

Back to Menu


     To forward this work the first step was to select a board of trustees. These were gentlemen of known ability and high moral character, drawn from different sections of the State. This board was to contain a certain number of Baptists, the remainder were to be of different denominations or no denomination. In their long and intimate association with the inmates of the home they proved themselves to be true, manly men, considerately courteous, strictly, but kindly just and keenly alive to the best interests of their helpless charges. “Our children,” as they called them, were objects of their warmest solicitude, and all employees, by virtue of their relation to the children, received a corresponding share of this sympathetic interest. 

     The board met at the Home regularly about every six months to discuss matters pertaining to the interest of the institution. They spent the day examining affairs, taking account of all needs and deliberating upon the best methods of supplying them. They met the inmates at table, three times, and at family worship once during each of their sessions. On these occasions one or more of them would give an encouraging, sympathetic talk. Of course the employees as well as the children kept at their usual work and were naturally “on their best behavior” for the day. I presume they felt something like a company of soldiers passing under review of their commanding general. Yet these trustees were so genial that their visit was a pleasant memory and soon became a pleasant anticipation. They reported annually to the Convention through their secretary, Rev. W. S. Webb, who always followed his report with a speech that thrilled the hearts of the audience and aroused an active, substantial interest in the cause for which he plead. Their only compensation was that which arose from a consciousness of having obeyed the Master’s injunction to “do good to the poor” according to “opportunity.”

     The first duty that presented itself to this board was to find and secure a locality for the projected institution. A veritable one was in sight and available. The Rev. T. C. Teasdale, of Columbus, Miss., was appointed an agent to raise the necessary funds for carrying out the plans of the Convention. He soon collected, principally in the Northern and Western States, sufficient funds to purchase Lauderdale Springs, a noted watering place in antebellum days. He also secured donations of supplies, furniture, etc., sufficient to fit it up for a beginning. 

     It required much deliberation for the trustees to decide upon an appropriate name for the proposed institution. “Aslyum” was too cold, too formal; “Refuge” was suggestive of crime; “Retreat” was pleasing, very, but it savored too much of leisure, if not of idleness, and this was intended to be a busy place. But “Home,” that dear word that thrills every human heart, fully met their conception of what this place should be to its inmates. Hence the institution was named "The Confederate Orphans’ Home of Mississippi,” and its affairs were always administered in accordance with this idea. 

     The locality was a very desirable one. The large inclosed campus was covered with a thick carpet of grass and surrounded on three sides by hills with a heavy growth of trees, many of them evergreen. The swampy ground on the south and southwest abounded in mineral springs, red and white sulphur and Chalybeate. It had been a popular summer resort, but in time it proved to be unhealthful for constant residence. The buildings were sufficient in number and were conveniently arranged around three sides of the campus, with two large ones in the center. But, as was the case generally throughout the South at that period, they were somewhat out of repair; and having been intended only for summer use they were not ceiled. It is well to add they never were ceiled.

Back to Menu


     Pending the election of a permanent superintendent, Rev. W. C. Buck was given the temporary charge of the property and of the small advance guard of children who arrived soon after the purchase of the property. He was pastor of a country church (Sharon) in Noxubee county and on each visit carried supplies contributed by his warm hearted congregation. He was an able divine and a guileless Christian. 

     In the meantime Professor Simeon Sebastian Cranberry, formerly of Mississippi College, Clinton, Miss., was elected first Superintendent to organize and carry on the work of the Home.  He was an experienced educatar, a man of sound, practical wisdom, of fine administrative ability, a refined Christian gentleman, admirably fitted for the work of caring for and directing the efforts of women and helpless children.  Dr. T. J. Deupree, now of Jackson, Tenn., who as. Treasurer of the Board of Trustees was closely associated with him for five years, thus writes of him: “He was one of the noblest, purest, best man I ever knew.” 

     Professor Cranberry also possessed that which is requisite for a man’s highest success in any vocation — a wife in full sympathy with his work.  She was a safe counsellor when perplexities arose, a mother to the children and a sympathtic friend to all employees. These statements may be considered irrelevant, but justice demands that I pay this small tribute to the memory of the two persons with whose lives I was closely associated for six years, sharing their work, their cares and responsibilities.

Back to Menu


     Early in the first year, a young man, Mr. Sam Goodwins, of Hinds county, directed and assisted the little boys in their outdoor work.  He remained only a few months, however.  Late in the next year Professor Williams, of Hinds county, was elected to this position.  As he was in delicate health he lived only a few months.  Perhaps a year after his death, Mr. Judson Thigpen was chosen to succeed him, and remained nearly throughout the existence of the Home. These were all well educated gentlemen, and efficient in their positions.

Back to Menu


     A physician was employed by the year. This position was held by Dr. Sidney Kennedy, of Lauderdale Station.  He was skilled in his profession, sympathetic in his ministrations, and responded promptly to all calls. A part of his duty was to examine all applicants on arrival at the station to ascertain if they had any contagious disease. In spite of this precaution we had, at different periods, epidemics of whooping cough and sore eyes.

Back to Menu

Copyright 2001 - Ellen Pack - All Rights Reserved