Old Abilene Post Cards
THE PHOTO ABOVE CHANGES DAILY
The West Texas Children's Aid and Welfare Web Site was started 2/1/2002 so adoptees or their families may be able to locate and contact one another.
This Web Site dedicated to the many adoptees of the Reverend W. A. Nicholas Orphan's home in Abilene, Texas and to all those whose lives have been touched through adoption.
The W.A. Nicholas Home was located in Abilene, Texas
William Abner Nicholas, Superintendent
All of the records of the West Texas Childrens Aid and Welfare Association were destroyed by a former Director, not Brother W A. Nicholas. There are no records with the exception of the sealed records located in various Court Houses. Since most of the work at the WTCA&W was conducted in Abilene, Texas. The place to start a search would be in the Taylor County Court House, unless you may have other information that would point to a different Court House.
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Below is some information about Brother W. A. Nicholas, the first director of the WTCA&W Association.
From about 1921 until near 1945, A Reverend W. A. Nicholas of Abilene operated a Child Placement Agency. He covered quite a large area which included most of the counties surrounding Taylor Co. Texas. He placed many children for adoption. Some were wards of the Court and some were abandoned or given up for adoption. Very few records remain and most all adoption cases were sealed. Thereby creating a very difficult problem for persons wanting to know where they came from, and what their roots were.
This page is dedicated to those desiring to know their birth parents. If you have information about the West Texas Children's Aid and Welfare Association, please contact the Editor at: John DeBusk
Reverend W. A. Nicholas was born in Virginia on June 28, 1854 and died February 04, 1949 in Abilene, Texas.
Reverend Nicholas is buried in Babyland, Cedar Hill Cemetery, in the plot of ground given to him years ago for unfortunate children who died. He had often expressed a desire to be buried there.
He is buried in plot # 31 in the Abilene City Cemetery Downtown (Cedar Hill Cemetery) near North 7th and Cottonwood St. On his head stone is written, "West Texas Children's Aid And Welfare Association Rev. W. A. Nicholas, Supt." Click This Link to view his grave site.
Abilene Reporter News -- Tuesday, June 29, 1937
The Reverend W. A. Nicholas, superintendent of the West Texas Children's Aid and Welfare association, shown carrying a basket laden with a bright-eyed, chubby-faced youngster, is known to bus drivers and railroad men over the state as "the man with a basket." The photo below was sent in to the Web Site by Mike Ziegenhagen in Abilene, Texas.
W. A. Nicholas superintendent of West Texas Children's Aid and Welfare Association, affectionately called Brother Nicholas, by all who know him reached his 83rd birthday yesterday, June 28th. He is celebrating today.
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A couple with whom he had placed a child came to town Monday for a lengthy conference causing the postponement.
Enjoying a three-deck birthday cake, reading greetings from friends and receiving visitors during a quite day at home was the way Brother Nicholas spent his 83rd anniversary.
The agile old man -- he's as active as most men at 40 -- was trying to keep cool when a reporter called on him at the height of Monday's heat. He answered the door bell with a hearty "Come in, young man." He led the way to the side of the house where chairs were placed in a cool spot.
The kind old gentleman estimated that he had placed 600 babies in homes and 900 older children and that he has helped 1,000 unfortunate girls. His records show, and he stated that 98 per cent of babies he has placed had unmarried mothers.
100 UNFILLED REQUESTS
On the association's records he said are 100 requests for babies, which cannot be filled. In connection with this, Brother Nicholas said, "I do not know what you would call it, but for the past few years a regular craze for adopting babies has swept the United Stated. We have 100 requests on file and that is an indication of how it is throughout the nation.
A new law passed three years ago gives Texas a good method of adopting children, said Brother Nicholas. The true parents of the child never know where it is placed. They sign a release before a notary that waives all rights for claiming the child.
The foster parents then receive a blank application form from Austin. The couple return it to Austin and in return receive a birth certificate for the child. A regular questionnaire is answered by the foster parents. They must have three responsible persons testify regarding their reputation and habits. After the child is adopted then, by law, he has all the rights of a blood child, and he is to be treated the same.
Asked how many children he has returned after placing them, Brother Nicholas said, "Only about 2 per cent and the reason for these were deficiencies that could not be seen as the child was too young.
HE TELLS THEM
Some parents want their children to know that they are adopted and others are bitterly opposed to it. Regarding this Brother Nicholas said, "My advice always is, tell the child that he is adopted so there will be no strained or unnatural relations between him and the family. They always will find it out as they grow older, and sometimes this is a great shock to the child. I know one man who suddenly confronted with the fact that he was adopted, quit his job, left town and started drinking."
"Several times I have had the children come to me, after they were grown, and demand to know who their parents were. I talk it over with them, explain the folly of trying to find out. "I tell them that she has grown children, or that she is someone they would not want to know. After laying both sides of the case before them, if they still want to know, I tell them."
Continuing Brother Nicholas said, "The foster parents of twin boys came to me one day worried because the children at school had told the children that they were adopted. Naturally, the boys wanted to know the truth. He brought them up and I gave the twins a history of themselves. After they were satisfied, I said,'When you go back to school and someone becomes insulting, just tell them that their parents just had them, but your parents loved you enough to ask for you.'"
The asociation is very careful about the placing of babies, Brother Nicholas has to be a diplomat here. The experienced benefactor usually tries to judge from the mother as to what type home the child be given. The mother usually pleads to know where the child is going to be, ' just so she can see it from a distance.' This is where the heartbreak comes in, but the law will not allow Brother Nicholas to tell. When the mother signs the release she will never know where her child is.
IN ABILENE 25 YEARS
Brother Nicholas came to Abilene 25 years ago and has been in the children's welfare work for 30 years. He was born in West Virginia in 1854 and received his education at Shelton college in West Virginia. His theological work was taken at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at Louisville, Kentucky.
After receiving his degree, he returned to his native state for missionary and ministerial work. Here he was field agent for a state paper.
In 1900 he went to Cuba where he engaged in missionary work. After there for six and a half years he went to Silver City, New Mexico. He worked as missionary and pastor for 16 months, and one day a Presbyterian minister preached at his church on welfare work. Brother Nicholas became interested and resigned that week to start work in this field. In 1908, he went to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he stayed until 1912, when he came to Abilene.
It was partly due to President J. D. Sandefer of Hardin-Simmons university, then Simmons college, that Brother Nicholas came to this town. Reminiscing, Brother Nicholas recalls that only President Sandefer and Dr. Julius Olsen with the school then are still on the faculty.
The wife of the welfare worker died in 1909 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, leaving him with six children. Three are still living. They are Mrs. C. K. (Vida) Borrough of Dallas, George Nicholas of Dallas and Mrs. G. S. (Alice) Vinyard of Amarillo.
Brother Nicholas said, "Many people wonder why I am energetic and lively at 83 years of age. I owe it to three things. I have kept busy throughout my life; I have always lived temperately; and I am optmistic."
"I shall continue my work as long as I am able. I believe the home, rather than an orphanage, is the place for children. My children are the best-loved and the worst spoiled in the world because of too much loving."
Click This Link -- to view the W. A. Nicholas family photo, sent in by Carole Paulk Ziegenhagen and Mike Ziegenhagen of Abilene. This is a rare family photo of Bro. Nicholas' biological children, it was printed on a post card, the children's names are: Vida 22, Fern, 18, George 16, Alice 13, and Aida 10. This photograph was taken in 1914. Click This Link to view what is written on back of the post card. Thanks to Carole Paulk Ziegenhagen and Mike Ziegenhagen who live in Abilene for sending the card.
Mike Ziegenhagen wrote on December 31, 2002: "To my surprise, I ran across a picture of Reverend W. A. Nicholas, and on the back was a little boy with WTCA mission written, so I have attached the Front Of Card and the Back Of Card I could not believe what I was looking at..."
Old Swimming Pool at Cisco, Texas Billed as "the world's largest swimming pool," this photo of Cisco's fancy water fun spot, taken before 1927 -- Length 700 feet -- Width 267 feet -- Debth 18 inches to 15 feet. Photo sent in by Mike Ziegenhagen June 10, 2003.
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ADOPTION STORIES FROM MEMBERS
John DeBusk || Jorita Hagins || Harvey Clark || Ray Thompson || Mary Ann Rumbo || Jannis Horwood
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Click Here to go to the MEMBERS page of the West Texas Children's Aid And Welfare Association.
Carole Paulk Ziegenhagen's W. A. Nicholas Page Abilene Reporter News, January 1, 1922 -- "Children's Aid Association is organized here" ||| Newspaper article -- "Reverend W. A. Nicholas given assistant in Children's aid and welfare" ||| Newspaper article -- "Reverend W. A. Nicholas marks 91st birthday in hospital" ||| The Reverend W. A. Nicholas obituary in 1949 ||| Photo of a little orphan girl Rev. Nicholas handed out to people, and has a message on back of card, sent in by Carole Paulk Ziegenhagen and Mike Ziegenhagen of Abilene, Texas.
The Jannis Horwood Story -- Jannis Horwood and her family initiated an adoption search and located their sister who had been placed for adoption through the West Texas Children's Aid and Welfare Association.
Adoptee, John DeBusk -- On 12 February 1933, I was found in a pasteboard box about ten miles west of Abilene, Texas. I have several Abilene newspaper articles on this page about this event.
Blossoms In The Dust The 1941 movie about the Edna Gladney orphans home in Ft. Worth, Texas starring Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon. This is a wonderful and touching movie/video.
Addresses By Year -- The addresses by year for the West Texas Childrens Aid And Welfare Orphan's Home in Abilene, Texas and a rare photo of Rev. Nicholas' biological children, sent in by Carole Paulk Ziegenhagen.
Old Magazine Article -- Magazine article with photos written about Rev. Nicholas in 1947. This article and photos sent in by adoptee, Billie Wayne Parker, Tahoka, Texas.
Our Photos -- Photos of the W. A. Nicholas Orphans Home in Abilene, Tx --- Brother Nicholas' office --- his grave site in the old cemetery near downtown in Abilene --- Carole Paulk Ziegenhagen's Mother.
About Nicholas J. Crain -- Crain assumed Superintendent of The WTCA & W in the early 1950s. He took the place of Brother Nicholas when the old gentleman became too old to operate the organization.
The Legend Of Saint Nicholas Of Myra -- An orphaned boy who became a priest and then a bishop. Who gave away all his wealth to the poor and especially to children in trouble. Who stood firm for his Lord Jesus in the midst of terrible persecution, and opposed false teachers as well.
TxCARE -- This Adoption Registry is a free service provided by TxCARE for family members separated by adoption.
Cyndi's List -- of Genelogy Sites on the Internet. Cyndi has more than 123,550 links with an excellent Category for adoption.
Texas Dept. of Health -- The Texas Vital Statistics Unit (VSU) Voluntary Central Adoption Registry (CAR) is part of a voluntary mutual-consent registry system mandated during the State of Texas' 68th Legislative Session in 1983. It enables an adult adoptee, birth parent, or sibling to place his or her name on the registry and to locate other family members who are also registered.
Seventy Four Reasons -- Why it's so really great to be an adoptee. Also, 101 really, really, good excuses why you will never be able to obtain any of your adoption records.
Gloria B. Mayfield's Taylor County Web Site This Website is dedicated to bringing you information of a genealogical and nostalgic nature. To help turn back the pages a few years and open paths to various records and files maintained by both private and governmental sources.
Comedy Show Rev. Nicholas and others participated in a comedy skit in Abilene on March 31, 1933 to raise funds for a highway beautification project. Thanks to Mike Ziegenhagen of Abilene for sending this to the Web Site.
Zona Luce Building -- Abilene Christian University rededicates a 70-year-old building on the National Register of Historic Places Saturday, Aug. 23, 1997, marking the completion of its extensive renovation.
Click This Link To View historic old photo St. Ann Hospital located at 1325 Cedar Street in Abilene, Tx., perhaps late 1930s. Thanks to Mike Ziegenhagen of Abilene for sending this to the Web Site. Recent photos of St. Ann Hospital in disrepair. (1) Front View (2) Rear View
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EDITOR: John DeBusk
Sealed Records Equal Lifelong Secrets And Lies
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