Sometimes you find amazing things almost in your backyard – this is one of those times.
In 1894, Reverend JT Upchurch established the Berachah Rescue Society in Waco, Texas with the purpose of redeeming and aiding prostitutes and other fallen women. In 1903, after being driven from Waco by angry fellow Methodist church members who opposed his aiding prostitutes, Upchurch and his wife Maggie Mae moved to Oak Cliff to continue their mission. Soon after they purchased twenty-seven acres of land to establish the Berachah Home for homeless girls, usually these girls were pregnant. It soon became known as Rescue Hill.
Girls came from Texas and the surrounding states to have their babies and learn to care for themselves and their babies. Upchurch did not believe that mothers and children should not be separated so adoption was not an option until the mother had cared for her child for one year.
By 1928, the home had expanded to 67 acres. On this land a hospital, nursery dormitory, dining room, print shop, handkerchief factory, chapel, office building, schoolhouse, 1,000 seat auditorium, barn, and a cemetery were built. The girls worked at the print shop, the handkerchief factory, as teachers and did other task around the home. Funding was provided by businessmen from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Upchurch published The Purity Journal to keep them informed about their mission work.
In the early 1930’s Reverend Upchurch’s health began to fail and in 1935 the home closed. It was reopened in 1936 as an orphanage, the Berachah Child Institute, by Upchurch’s daughter, Allie Mae and her husband, Reverend Frank Wiese. In 1942 the property was purchased by the Christian Missionary Alliance.
It is unknown how many girls had past through the doors of the Berachah Home. It is also unknown how many children were born. I wonder what became of the mothers and the children that were residents. Reverend Upchurch and his wife dedicated their lives to an important cause, although they were ridiculed by many they continued on mission.
The University of Texas purchased the property in 1963 and still currently owns it. The only remaining evidence of Rescue Hill is The Lost Cemetery of Infants.
One has to assume since The Berachah Home was a home for unwed mothers that there were some complications with some births. There are approximately 80 grave sites in the Cemetery. Most are marked by a flat stone with either a first name or a number, such as Infant #1. Last names were not included to protect the unwed mother’s anonymity.
I have lived in Arlington since 1975 and until about a week ago I was unaware of this fascinating piece of history. While a student attending The University of Texas at Arlington, I actually lived about 300 yards from this site. Yesterday I visited The Lost Cemetery of Infants. I was touched by what I found – simple graves of forgotten babies who had no past, present, or future. I now wonder what happened to the hundreds of children that would leave the home to follow the backroads of their lives.
This site is special and I encourage people to visit Rescue Hill. Not much there except a history of a lot of folks that were touch by the Reverend Upchurch and his family. I have included a photograph of each of the markers at this cemetery (sorry a couple are out of focus). Please take a minute to remember each and every one of them.
There is not a footprint to small to leave an imprint on this world……….unknown
LOST CEMETERY OF INFANTS (Doug Russell Park – northwest corner) 801 West Mitchell Street – Arlington, TX
past pictures from UT Arlington Archives