I hope everyone is enjoying this fall weather. I just love the slower pace and hunkering down in the winter. For some reason colder weather and gray skies act as a spring-board for long writing days. Weird, huh? But with little to do outside, I can focus on my story.
Over the years, I’ve written about characters helping women caught up in bad situations with nowhere to turn. But the most recent is A Cowboy of Legend that came out in April. Grace Legend rescued a lady of the night and got her out of that life. She helped her find redemption and she ended up with her family, painting pictures again. Grace and Deacon also work to save the street children and open a home for them.
In real life, a lot of women fell into a trap and got caught in prostitution or ended up pregnant with no hope of finding a way out. One couple, Reverend James T. and Maggie May Upchurch, began their crusade in social work in Waco, Texas in 1894 after encountering women working in the “entertainment” profession. There they started the Berachah Rescue Society.
The relocated to Arlington, Texas in 1903 and founded the Berachah Industrial Home for the Redemption of Erring Girls. It was a home for “fallen” and unwed women in the family way who had nowhere else to turn.
The Upchurch’s had one rule for their pregnant residents—they were required to keep their babies. No children were given up for adoption.
The couple provided room and board and taught these women a skill of some kind where they could become a productive member of society.
But they didn’t limit their help to just women. They spread their gospel to the street corners and opened their hearts to the homeless street children. They truly were an inspiration and instead of scorning those who’d taken a wrong path, they helped them rise from the gutters, treating them with compassion and love.
At the Berachah home that was funded by donations from businessmen, the women were taught parenting skills in addition to providing a way to make a living and be independent. The Upchurch’s erected a chapel, a handkerchief factory, infirmary, print shop, and school on the property. In 1924, there were 129 women and girls living there with the average age of 17. The home close in 1935 due to donations drying up and the residents were relocated to other places. Today, a Texas Historical Marker stands there to commemorate the groundbreaking work of the Rev. and Mrs. Upchurch.
Deacon Brannock and Grace Legend in my story could’ve been the Reverend and his wife. I love it when what I think is fiction turns out to have really deep roots in history.
The Rev. and Mrs. Upchurch changed so many lives that would’ve been forever lost. I would love to sit down with them and ask them what the biggest challenge was and also the biggest reward.
My question: If you could sit down with any person in history, who would it be? And what would you ask them? I’m giving away an ebook copy of A Cowboy of Legend to one person who comments.