The Lasting Legacy of Social Work

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.

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Here in the Texas Panhandle, we do love our cowboys. There's just something about a man in a Stetson and jeans that makes my heart beat faster. I'm not much of a cook but I love to do genealogy and I'm a bit of a rock hound. I'm also a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical western romance. You can contact me through my website and I'd love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. HAPPY READING!

50 thoughts on “The Lasting Legacy of Social Work”

  1. I would sit down with Jane Austen and discuss writing, life, and anything else she was willing to talk about.

    • Denise, she would be so very interesting to talk to. I wonder what she’d say about the difficulty of women publishing their work in her day and age. That had to have been so hard. Most women had to take a male alias. If only we could ask her! Have a wonderful day!

    • Good morning, Debra. Wow, yes! Bram Stoker would be so fascinating. I read where he was bedridden from birth to age 7. Maybe he battled boredom by making up dark stories. Then when he was of working age, got on at a castle in Ireland as a servant. Those dark hollow rooms must’ve fed his creative soul. Thanks for coming and sharing. Have a beautiful day.

  2. Wow, that’s a tough one! But the first person who popped in my mind was Helen Keller. To be dealt such a challenging life and not only to survive it, but to leave the world a better place for having been in it.
    She’s my hero.

    • Laura, I certainly agree. Helen Keller was dealt such a devastating hand and yet she turned it around and made such a great contribution to society and others like her. We owe her so much. I hope you have a smooth-sailing day, my Filly Sister. 🙂

  3. That’s a tough question, Miss Linda. Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, are two individuals who have intrigued me. Quanah Parker, Sitting Bull, & Crazy Horse are a few other.
    I loved this book and you certainly made a lasting impression with Grace & Deacon’s true sacrifice in helping others.

    • Good morning, Miss Tonya. I’m so happy to see you. The past was full of so many interesting people. Einstein for sure. I wonder if he just sat around thinking and doing numbers in his head. And Edison gave us electric lights, the telephone and so much more that make our lives easier. I’d like to ask him and Einstein both what they think about space travel. I hope joy and love spill out around you and your day is full of smiles. I love you dearly, sister friend.

  4. Wow good question! I think for me I would like to talk with Abraham Lincoln. What a smart brave man if History is correct. Good morning

    • Good morning, Yvonne. Now there’s a man who bore such horrible weight on his shoulders. Yes, Abraham Lincoln would sure be interesting. I wonder what he’d say about the world today. Wishing you a glorious day, dear friend.

  5. That is a tough question but I think it would be Margaret Mitchell because her book Gone With The Wind is the book that got me into the world of reading. This was back in high school. I have read the book a few times and I also have a copy of it on my book shelf right now.

    • Good morning, Quilt Lady. Thanks for coming. I think Margaret Mitchell would be fascinating. I think she had a crush on Clark Gable. He certainly charmed her. I’d like to ask her about other books she intended to write and the one she left unfinished. Good choice. Have a lovely day. Love you, lady.

  6. Oh, wow! If I could chose one person, I think I’d have to chose Daniel. I really want to know what it was like spending a night with lions!!

  7. This is a bit off the wall, Linda, but I have always been fascinated by Vera-Ellen. She was the dancing sister, Judy Haynes, in White Christmas, and the dances she performed with Danny Kaye were AMAZING!!! White Christmas is one of the few shows that I will watch year after year. and it’s all because of her dancing. (Well, the singing was good, too. Ha!)

    I guess the question I would ask her what it was like to dance with Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, and Danny Kaye. Which was her favorite costume? Her favorite dance routine? Her favorite song?

    She made the dancing look SO easy, but it must have been stressful. Her personal life was not idyllic, and she suffered from anorexia. As thin as she was, I don’t know how she had the energy for such high-step, FAST tap-dancing.

    Loved the blog, Linda!

    • Good morning, Pam. I admit I don’t remember that movie or her. I’ll have to watch it this Christmas though. It would be interesting to get her thoughts on dancing with such famous men, all experts. Dancers really fascinate me. Ginger Rogers would be another good one to talk to. I hope your day goes smoothly. Love you, Filly sister.

  8. I’d love to sit down with one of the early women doctors such as Elizabeth Blackwell, and ask her how she found the strength to keep going day after day against such seemingly insurmountable odds. Or one of the early pioneer women who kept going on their own with a passel of kids after their husband died, keeping their farm or business going on their own. I’m inspired the women in Lauraine Snelling’s Red River of the North series, keeping homesteads growing after losing their husbands.

    • Absolutely, Sherry. The normal everyday people would have very interesting stories. The widows (especially young ones) would sure have it rough. I can’t imagine the enormous strength it took. And those early women doctors faced insurmountable odds. Strength and courage would have to had been the only thing that kept those women going. I really am inspired by them also. You have a beautiful day.

  9. Hello Linda! Great post! I love hear stories like that! I would love to sit down with George Washington. I love the Revolutionary War era and I have always thought he was such an amazing man to go through all he went through. When I visited Mount Vernon and heard even more of his story, I knew I would love to sit down and hear first hand accounts of his experiences.
    I loved Deacon and Grace’s story, as you know, so don’t enter me!

    • Valri, George Washington would sure be interesting. The success of America fell squarely on his shoulders. It had to have been so hard to make the difficult decisions, knowing the nation would fail if he chose the wrong path. Hard, hard. Bet he lost a lot of sleep. I’m glad you liked Deacon’s and Grace’s story. They were great characters. Hey, we need to get together for lunch soon. 🙂

  10. I love stories about how people with huge hearts and big determination can do so much to help others. This is such a great example. If I could sit down with anyone from past history, I think I would choose Amelia Earhart just because she was so bold to go where no woman had dared to go before.

    • Good morning, Jan. It’s great to see you, sister. I agree that Amelia Earhart faced a lot of criticism and negativity yet dared to go after the impossible dream. She’d be really interesting. And…she could solve the mystery of what happened to her!! Wishing you an inspiring writing day! Love you.

  11. Linda, I had never heard of the Upchurches. What a wonderful couple they must have been to have devoted their lives to helping others and changing so many lives! Truly an inspiration–I can’t believe I have never heard of them before, and I’m so glad you blogged about them.

    I’m not sure I can pick just one person. LOL Abraham Lincoln is one I would love to sit and visit with, but I’d probably be tongue tied in his presence. LOL Since I’ve been working on genealogy, there are a couple of my ancestors I’d love to sit and just ask a list of questions that I have about their lives…so many questions…LOL

    • Good morning, Cheryl! Ancestors would be a great choice. Yours and mine both left so many unanswered questions. I’d love to find out what happened and I know you would also. I think Abraham Lincoln would be a warm, very kind man. He really made a lot of hard decisions. Love you, Filly sister! Okie and all. 🙂

  12. I don’t know that I could just pick one. There are so many fascinating people in history – Bible characters, authors, and others like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglas, and so many others. I would want to know what inspired them to have great faith.

    • Good morning, Karijean! It’s great to see you. History is filled with so many people who walked a difficult path and made decisions that affected an entire nation. A lot rested on their shoulders and that must’ve been a heavy weight. Thank you for coming. Have a beautiful day.

  13. I would ask my great grandparents on my mother’s side about what happened to them that they couldn’t make it back to N.C. from out west to pick up their young daughter (my grandmother) after they left her in someone’s care when she was too sick to travel with them. I know travel wasn’t easy back then, but what I can learn from my relatives, no one knew what became of them. I’m thinking maybe they got sick and perhaps died.

    • Connie, how awful for your mom to be left behind and no one ever came to claim her. I wish you do ask them what happened. Surely they wouldn’t have just left her and never intended to go back. So I guess your mom grew up in an orphanage or did another relative take her in? I hope she was with someone she knew. That’s just so tragic. Maybe there would be some records of them somewhere. I hope you get some answers one day. Thanks for coming.

      • Oh, sorry, this was my grandmother that was left behind. The same family that she was left with raised her, and then she married, had 7 children of which my mother was her youngest. I was only 6 when my grandmother passed away, so I didn’t get to know her very good.

    • Oh, sorry, but still such a horrible thing for a child. Sounds like the family was kind to her and maybe gave her love. I hope you can one day find out more through genealogy records.

  14. Fascinating glimpse into early social work. Helping women who were so vulnerable. I didn’t know about this, and it happened right here in Arlington! I’m not entering the Giveaway.

    • Hi Hebby, I’m so glad there were people like this out there who helped those women. I’m sure you could find the place. Wikipedia gives the address as 169 Main Street. There’s a historical marker there. It would be fun to see. Thanks for coming.

  15. Only one person? How to choose? Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Annie Oakley, Bill Hickok, Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott… the list goes on. The question though would be the same. What inspired you to make the choices you made to lead the life you led?

    • Hi Anne Carrole! Man, it’s great to see you. I hope you’ve been well. You mention so many that I would love to chat with also. Oh the run you could have. Thanks for coming.

  16. Hi Friend, what a great blog! Thanks for sharing. I wasn’t aware of the Upchurch’s and their work, but found it so fascinating. This may sound weird to most but if I could sit down and talk openly with anybody, it’d be Mama and my Granny. In the days I grew up here in Texas, elders didn’t talk in front of kids about certain things. Since they’ve been gone so long, I know they’d share “things” with me now. You knew my mama almost as well as I do, so I think you know where I’m coming from. Love and miss you, P

    • Hi dearest Phyliss. Yes, I knew your mama somewhat and how she could dig in her heels when she didn’t want to do something. LOL It’s not weird at all to want to talk to her and your granny. I’d dearly love to ask some of my relatives questions also. It would be nice to get the chance to sit down with our ancestors. Thanks for liking my post. The Upchurch’s were very interesting.

  17. Wow, what a wonderful piece of history, and what a wonderful ministry they had! Choosing someone from history I’d like to speak with is difficult. I’ve admired C.S. Lewis for a long time now, I think it would have been really nice to meet him in person and have a conversation with him.

    • Hi Megan, thanks for coming by. I agree about this wonderful history find. And that it fit so perfectly with my story made it even better. I confess I don’t know that much about C.S. Lewis but he was probably an interesting person. I know his Chronicles of Narnia was very popular. He was a nice looking man. Have a wonderful day.

  18. Hello, Linda. First, please don’t enter me in the giveaway. I have a copy of A Cowboy of Legend and what a wonderful story it is. And how fascinating to learn about the real-life people who did that work. It is amazing how dedicated and selfless some people are. And how totally in tune some couples are. A person from history? So many to choose from. For one, I would like to sit down with someone like Marilyn Monroe before they became famous, were typecast, were most likely misunderstood and see how they really felt, what they believed. She is just the most obvious example of what I mean. It would just be interesting to talk to those people where we are certain we know all about them from the gossip and their public face and learn how wrong we might be.

    (This is unrelated to your blog but i must mention how much I enjoyed Taylor Moore’s novel Down Range and that I noted your name among the thank you’s in the acknowledgements. What a debut. Can’t wait for the next book in the series.)

    Take care and stay safe.

    • Oh Sally, how wonderful to have you drop by! I’m beyond thrilled that you liked A Cowboy of Legend. Those two were really on a crusade and passionate about those they tried to help. And I’m so happy you enjoyed Taylor Moore’s book! He’d be very thrilled. The first time he read anything to me, I knew he was destined for the big time. He has enormous talent and I told him not long ago, that he hasn’t even written his best stuff yet. You might like to know that he’s been pursued by the major film studios and recently signed with Universal. They’re either going to make a movie or a series from the book. I’m just so excited for him. Also, his 2nd book is supposed to come out in August this next year.

      I’ve always thought Marilyn Monroe would great to talk to. She carried a lot of secrets, including her death. I think she was murdered. She knew too much and had dirt on too many famous people. One of them killed her and made it look like a suicide. But she was such a wounded soul. All she wanted was to be loved and taken seriously. Have a good rest of your day.

  19. That is a tall order to limit to one person. I would like to sit down with Ruth from the Bible. I would like to know what it was like to leave behind everything and everyone she knew to go with Naomi. I believe it would be fabulous to hear. Thank you for sharing.

    • Hi Debbie, thanks for coming over. Ruth from the Bible would be so interesting. She had great faith to leave everyone and everything for the unknown. I hope you have a wonderful day.

  20. I guess the one person I would like to sit and talk to would be Quanah Parker or any Comanche descendent. I have a smidgen of Native American in me and I would love to talk about how they lived.

    • Hi Carolyn, Quanah Parker would be very interesting. He was a smart man and bridged his people from the past that was unwinnable to the hope of the future. He was a friend to quite a few presidents. I mention him in my upcoming March book (A Man of Legend.) Thanks for coming. I’m happy you liked my post.

  21. Oh wow, I’ve never heard of the Upchurch’ what an amazing thing they did & way before a time I’d have thought this type of ministry even happened. O guess I hadn’t put a lot of thought into it.

    You know me, I can never pick just one of anything. I was supposed to put thought into this yesterday and come back & have the person. I had an appointment in town yesterday with Cassi & errands so of course I forgot.

    So therefore, I’m going to keep it personal and just go with my Grandfather on my father’s side so I could right down all the stories & names I should have throughout the years. I’d say my Grandmother on my father’s side since it’s been so long since we lost her but I think I could probably get more family history from my grandpa.

    • Dearest Steph, the good thing is you got your errands over with and today is a new day. Sounds like we all have things we wish we could ask our family members who passed over. We never think to ask while they’re alive. I don’t think we really know what to ask and think we have lots of time. I asked my mom some things but there are so many others that I should’ve asked only now it’s too late. I’m so happy you came. I love you very dearly, warrior buddy. Keep on fighting the MS demon.

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