Our History

We have been blessed to have most of the 1920’s Messengers, the book The Tipton Home Story (written by L. E. Fooks in 1958) and The Tillman County History Book as sources to gather the facts about the early history of The Tipton Home.

The Tipton Children’s Home history starts in 1921 in Canadian, Texas, with the decision to take care of four children after the death of their mother. Mr. and Mrs. H. B. Beach, a couple whose own children were all married, showed a great interest in the children, and their hearts went out to them. They volunteered to take the children into their big house if someone would help them with the expenses. After much prayer and discussion among the members of the church in Canadian, the elders and preacher asked the Beaches to care for the children, and the church at Canadian would pay the bills. W. L. Swinney, the Canadian preacher, reported at the Abilene Christian College Lectures on February 21, 1923, the humble beginning of the Canadian Orphan’s Home. Calls from churches, broken homes, relatives of homeless children, state and city agencies began to pour in seeking to admit children who had no home. Before many months, 18 to 20 children were staying with the Beaches. What to do with so many children became a problem that needed immediate attention.

A large, brick, two-story building with a basement stood at the end of an unpaved street in Canadian. It had been built as an academy but with weather and time, the city had condemned the building. The city assured the church leaders that if they would fix it up suitably then the city would lift the restriction. After much volunteer labor and $600.00, the place was ready for occupancy. By that time some of the churches of Christ and interested individuals had begun to send unsolicited money to the Canadian congregation to help care for these children.  Mr. and Mrs. Beach had taken on the work of overseeing the children on a temporary basis and with the move into the new location; they turned over the work to Mr. and Mrs. Swinney.

Mr. Swinney asked the elders to relieve him of the duties of ministering for the local congregation. They were glad to do this for they also believed that the care of these children was one of the best works for those who profess to follow Christ. In September of 1922, the elders at Canadian were notified that the home would have to be moved out of the old building by March 1923. At this time they had 72 children. The elders met and decided it would be wise, if possible, to move the Home to another location. The elders were not tired of the work, but felt it would be in the best interest of the children to move to another location that was on a farm close to a town, with the Home closer to larger population centers. After hearing Mr. Swinney talk about the Home and the need to move the Home, Sol and Maggie Tipton determined together that they could give eighty acres of the “best land in the Southwest.” The Tipton elders, L.A. Todd, H. N. Seymour, R. E. Chitwood, S. D. Jackson and Sol Tipton, were in agreement about accepting the responsibility of the orphan’s home.

The elders and superintendent from Canadian came to the Tipton Valley to inspect the land, which had been given. It was so much different from the rough country in the Texas Panhandle. As they drove into the valley, they crossed the north fork of the Red River. Immediately they saw the broad, flat- bottomed lands of the valley with thick, knee- high grass and rich, fertile fields. The red land stretched for miles in every direction. On their left along the horizon to the north, they saw the rugged Wichita Mountains against the blue sky. The Home was to be cradled between the mighty Red River and the Wichita Mountains.

On June 27, 1924, the moving day arrived. Burley Slayton, who owned the Star Automobile agency in Tipton with his brother, took their 1924 model cars to Canadian, Texas, and hauled all of the children and adults 120 miles to their Tipton Home.

When the children and staff arrived at the huge, brick structure located in the southwestern corner of Oklahoma, the building was spacious and beautiful but a little more than half of it was ready to use. The funds were lacking to complete the building. When the structure of The Tipton Orphans’ Home was completed, it was of the congregate type, one story high, except for the administration portion, which were two stories. The first floor had four large dormitories, four bathrooms, a clothing room, a sewing room, a dining room, a kitchen, a pantry, four rooms for the elementary school; two play rooms and rooms for the matrons and deans. The hospital, supply rooms, and the guest chambers were above the offices.  From the beginning, The Tipton Children’s Home trustees were composed of the elders of the Tipton Church of Christ. The elders were L. A. Todd, H. N. Seymour, R. E. Chitwood, S. D. Jackson and Sol Tipton.

Robert E. Chitwood took on the work of being the superintendent of The Tipton Orphans’ Home.  After serving as superintendent for 20 years, Mr. Chitwood resigned due to a bad heart condition and spent his remaining years at his home in Tipton.

By the early summer of 1927, The Tipton Children’s Home family had increased to 220. In September of 1927, there were 158 children in the first six grades. Forty-seven children were above the sixth grade level, and they were made a part of the public school system of Tipton. The first six grades went to school at The Tipton Children’s Home.