Carole Paulk Ziegenhagen's -- W. A. Nicholas Page


Below are two newspaper articles were printed at the time when the West Texas Children's Aid And Welfare Association was established in 1922. These articles were sent in to the Adoptees Web Site by Carole Paulk Ziegenhagen of Abilene, Texas.

Abilene Reporter News, January 1, 1922


Preliminary steps toward the formation of The West Texas Children's Aid, and Welfare Association were taken at a meeting at the First Christian Church Sunday afternoon. The purpose of the association is to seek homeless, neglected, desititute children, and to provide for them and to find homes for them in intelligent families. A private corporation formed by Joe T. Perry, T. N. Carswell, and J. T. Ward as been organized for fostering the the work. At Sunday afternoon's meeting Joe T. Perry acted as temporary chairman and Louis T. Ward as temporary secretary. A motion was made by Dr. Mallard A. Jenkens pastor of the First Baptist Church, that a permanent organization of the body be made was carried.

A statement was made by the Rev. W. A. Nicholas, who will have charge of the work, as to the purpose of the organization. Rev. W. A. Nicholas has been engaged in welfare work of this kind for several years, and has endeared himself to the people of this section by the manner in which he has carried it on. He declared that there was too much work of this kind in West Texas to allow the work to stop. He referred to the fact that he was associated with the late Rev. I. Z. T. Morris, who formerly conducted a work of this kind at Fort Worth. Judge James P. Stinson moves that a permanent organization be made which was carried. A committee on permanent organization was then appointed by the chair consisting of Judge Coombes, W. J. Millburn, and the Rev. W. M. Pearce. The organization will be made all West Texas in scope of the West Texas Chamber of Commerce will be asked to aid in furthering the purpose of the association and in widening it's scope, was voted that all funds be received for the present by the Rev. W. A. Nicholas, and handled by his treasurer.

Dr. Mallard A Jenkens, and W. O. Dallas were named as a committee on publicity and whose duty it will also be to confer with Porter A. Whaley, general manager of the West Texas Chamber of Commerce, with a view to having that organization foster the association throughout West Teaxs. It is stated that the corporation is not for profit, and "therefore owns no capital stock, but may own, and acquire property for the purpose of carrying out the terms of this association". Another meeting is to be held within the near future.

Abilene Reporter News, January 26, 1922



The West Texas Children's Aid and Welfare Association, with headquarters in Abilene, has perfected its organization and is now ready to carry on, the great work it has set out to accomplish, according to the Rev W. A. Nicholas, the superintendent.

The board of directors is composed of W. A. Minter, chairman; M. H. Compere, W. J. Fulwiler, F. C. Digby Roberts, H. O. Wooten, Joe T. Perry, and W. H. Free, all of Abilene. The officers are: W. J. Milburn, Abilene, president; E. M. Overshiner Abilene, first vice-president; A. B. Martin, Plainview, second vice-president; Ed. Wilson, Brownwood, third vice-president;

Miss Leila Ford, Abilene, secretary; Homer Scott, Abilene, attorney. The executive committee is composed of Joe T. Perry, W.A. Minter, and W. J. Fulwiler, Abilene. The advisory board is composed of the following pastors of the 16 evangelicical church of Abilene; A. O. Strother, attorney, Winters; Robert B. Williams, merchant, Ballinger; C. M. Largent, stockman, Merkel; E. I. Hill, Districk attorney, Sweetwater; C. N.Fox, merchant; San Angelo; O. P. Thrane, banker, Snyder; W. R. Dickinson, rancher, Lubbock; A. B. Martin; attorney, Plainview; Dr. J. E. Nunn, capitalist Amarillo; E. S. Cummins, county judge Anson; R. B. Bryant, merchant Stamford; J. D. Sandefer, president Simmons College, Abilene; J. P. Sewel, president Abilene Christian College; J. W. Hunt, president McMurry College, Abilene.

The Rev. W. A. Nicholas, the moving spirit in this orgrnization, has been engaged in child welfare work in Texas for many years, and is widely known. He said Thursday he had received great encouragement in the work of the organization, and bespoke the continued interest of the people of this work as it progresses, and it's needs become apparent. His headquarters is at the Grace Hotel, Abilene, telephone No. 8.

Mr. Nicholas announced that he has four children, three infants, and a five year old boy, for whom Christian homes are desired, and a number of other children are expected to reach here next week, three girls aged 5, 7, and 9 will be here next week, and it is desired to find temporary homes in Abilene for them pending their settlement in permenent homes somewhere in West Texas. Anyone interested may phone No. 1587 which is the address of Jany Bower, a trained nurse who has charge of the Associations nursery at 1735 South first street. There are now two infants in the nursery.

Article below sent in by Mike Ziegenhagen, Abilene, Tx



Officers and Directors of West Texas Ass’n Are Re-elected at Annual Meeting; Reports Are Heard

All officers of the West Texas Children’s Aid and Welfare association were re-elected last night at the annual meeting of directors, held in the Citizens National Bank building. Tendering Rev. W. A. Nicholas a rising vote of thanks for his services during the past years the board asked him to continue as superintendent of the organization, and named Nicholas Crain, a young Simmons university student as his assistant. Crain, who resides here in the Nicholas home, has been helping the superintendent unofficially during the past year.

Bert E. Low, director who offered the resolution in appreaciation for the work of Rev. W. A. Nicholas, said of him, "He keeps his face to the front and one foot in the air at all times, and the value of his services cannot be estimated."

The superintendent last year traveled 8,600 miles and placed 53 children in homes and one in an institution.

Association Officers

Officers of the association are C. C. Chenoweth, president; Frank E. Smith, and C. W. Bacon, Abilene, and J. A. Hill, Canyon, Vice Presidents; L. A. Sadler, treasurer; E. S. Cummings, attorney. Executive committeemen are Low, Truett Compere and Louis Montgomery. They also were re-elected, as were board members; Compere, W. J. Fulwiler, J. M. Hooks, Montgomery, Guy McCarty, Rich Keeble, J. Harvey Clark. John E. Price was added to the board to take the place of Ed C. Powers, who is temporarily out of the city.

Annual report of the superintendent showed 290 visits made, 98 addresses, and sermons delivered and 800 pieces of literature distributed during the year.

Investigations were made on 98 children reported to the association, and 54 were placed in homes, and institutions. Of the number, 38 were infants-23 boys and 15 girls. The association was caring for five children at close of the year. The report showed surgery for II children during 1932, and medical attention for 27.

Four children in care of the association were graduated from high school last year. One girl is now attending Abilene Christian, college and another is a senior in the local high school.

Adoption papers were completed here yesterday for two baby boys, assigned to home by the West Texas Children’s Aid and Welfare association.

A Dallas couple who; took a babe into their home three months ago, when he was only a few days old, returned yesterday accompanied by their pastor and wife, to complete adotion proceedings.

Another baby boy, two months old was adopted into an Avoca home where he was taken a few weeks ago, His foster parents were accompained to Abilene yesterday by neighbors, who served as witnesses in the legal proceedings.

Article below sent in by Carole Paulk Ziegenhagen and Mike Ziegenhagen, Abilene, Tx


Abilene Reporter News -- 29 June, 1945

A hospital bed is hardly the ideal place to spend one's birthday, but the Rev. W. A. Nicholas had no choice in the matter. He had expected until Tuesday to be up on his 91st birthday which was yesterday, but declared he "had to be put under treatment again," in Hendrick Memorial hospital.

With nothing more strenuous to do than talk or eat the birthday dinner prepared by a granddaughter, "Brother Nicholas," as he is familiarly known, had plenty of time to recall events of his near-century life.

Some 35 years of Brother Nicholas' life have been devoted in placing more than 700 children in homes where the parents desired to adopt a family.

"When I was young, I never thought I would spend a good part of my life doing this sort of work," he said. His love for children gave him a good start in the business, in which he has handled more than a thousand babies in all.

He began doing the work when he was pastor of the Baptist church at Silver City, New Mexico.

"Dr. Lucas. a Presbyterian preacher, came to my church one Sunday and made a talk. I soon was doing field work with him," he recalled.

His wife had died previously in 1909 and was buried in Albuquerque, N. M., so he brought his two oldest daughters to Abilene in 1912 where they enrolled in Simmons college, now Hardin-Simmons university. The following year, "one of my boys came." Latter his two youngest girls entered H-SU, which made a total of five Simmonites in the family.

When he came to West Texas, he started work with the West Texas Children's Aid and Welfare association. For a while his headquarters were in Ft. Worth.

His job was to go out and find children, money, and homes. The procedure he used was to find people who wanted children. After they had filled out an application blank, which he gave them, he investigated their home. Then he placed a child in the home temporarily, and they were free to adopt it after six months.

He has taken a few children back, however, he said, because he learned that the parents were "not treating the children well."

Brother Nicholas' first requirement for a home is that the man and wife must be active members of a Protestant church, and that they should be eager to have a child.

He futher believes that they should tell the child the truth and not try to deceive it about it's real background.

"Some do that, but they don't succeed," he stated. "The child will find out by and by."

"I used to go anywhere to get the children, but I very seldom placed them anywhere other than West Texas," he asserted. In order to do this work, he has a charter covering 100 counties, which entitles him to privileges given to other businesses. He is allowed to collect money, pay bills and salaries, etc. Some people have paid for the expenses incurred in placing the baby. He cited a few examples and also mentioned the woman, a foster parent, who sends him $2.00 each Christmas.

Brother Nicholas is particularly proud of his men and women who are serving in the armed forces. He estimates that the number is over 100. He trys to keep informed about "his children," and particularly remembers a girl that he put through high school and nurses training school at Hendrick Memorial hospital. He quoted E. M. Collier, hospital superintendent, in saying that she was one of the best nurses ever to finish there.

He recalls that he has placed about 10 pairs of twins and seven colored children. He has handled the placement of just one Catholic child, who was released to his care only after he had promised her mother to put her in a Catholic home.

Quite experienced in the handling of children, Brother Nicholas had four girls and two boys of his own. Two girls and one son are living now. In addition he has 11 grandsons, seven of whom are in the armed service, and four granddaughters.

The white-haired man with a white beard carrying a basket is quite a famillar site to many West Texas citizens. He carries babies, not clothes or fruit in that basket.

"I have sometimes carried two babies in the basket at a time," he related."

Then there was the time when he boarded the train carrying a big clothes basket, in which he placed three babies. ("That was before they had these nice baskets," he explained). He tied it with a rope and put it over his shoulder. "I got some boys to help me put it on the train," he added.

With quite a demand for children, Brother Nicholas has received requests for babies from all parts of the nation.

"A woman in California wanted me to come out there and bring her a baby," he recalled. In all, this foster parent to hundreds of children gets an average of a letter a day, requesting one of "his babies."

These photos and newspaper clipping sent in by Carole Paulk Ziegenhagen of Abilene, Texas.

This old photo and the one below are the front and back of a card Brother Nicholas had printed to hand out to people.



Comments from an adoptee in Texas


Abilene Reporter News

February 5, 1949

Last Rites Sunday for Rev. Nicholas

Funeral services for Brother Nicholas 94 year old Baptist minister, will be held Sunday afternoon at 3 o’clock in the First Baptist Church with Dr. M. A. Jenkens officiating, assisted by the pastor, Dr. Jesse Northcutt.

The Rev. W. A. Nicholas, well known throughout West Texas as a "friend of the child" died at 7:55 a.m. Friday at Hendrick Memorial Hospital in a basement room where he had lived since Dec. 6, 1946.

Brother Nicholas as he was affectionately known, was a foster father to more than 1,000 persons whom he helped while they were homeless children. He was superintendent of the West Texas Children’s Aid and Welfare Association and spent some 35 years of his life helping children once he came to this area in 1913.

He was born June 28, 1854 in Virginia. He was a graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky. While there, he was a companion and classmate of the late Dr. John Sampy, who later became president of the institution.


Before the Spanish - American War, he and his wife were sent to Cuba to do missionary work. His wife died in Cuba at the birth of a daughter. He then returned to the United States and later did missionary work in New Mexico and Oklahoma.

He came to Abilene in 1913 to enroll his two daughters in Simmons College, now Hardin - Simmons University. He had become interested in in children’s work while in New Mexico and continued the work after he came here.

It was while Brother Nicholas was here, about 28 years ago, that he was named superintendent of the newly-organized West Texas Children’s Aid and Welfare Association.

He was a member of the Kiwanis Club.

The Reverend Nicholas’ body will lie in state from 2 to 3 o’clock Sunday afternoon at the First Baptist Church preceding the funeral.

Burial will be in Babyland, Cedar Hill Cemetery, in the plot of ground given to the Reverend Nicholas years ago for unfortunate children who died. He had often expressed a desire to be buried there.

Survivors include two daughters, Mrs. C. E. Burroughs of Dallas, Mrs. Pinky Vinyard of Borger, one son. George Nicholas of Houston and one foster son, Nick Crain of Abilene.

Pallbearers will be C. L. Prichard, C. C. Chenoweth, Tom Brownlee, E. S. Cummings, Frank Smith, J. R. Fielder, Homer Scott, and E. A. Sheppard.

Elliotts Funeral Home will be in charge of the arrangements.

Click This Link to view Rev. Nicholas' grave site.



Q. What is The West Texas Children's Aid and Welfare Association?

A. It is a National, Statewide, Home Finding Organization, caring for the Orphan and Dependent Children of this state.

Q. When was it organized?

A. In 1922.

Q. How does the system compare with other Charity Organizations of this kind?

A. At the Worlds Fair at Chicago and St. Louis, it took highest award over all other child saving institutions in the world.

Q. What class of children does it take?

Children under fifteen years of age that are mentally and physically sound.

Q. How does it get custody of the children?

A. Through release of parents who are not able to care for them: through the county courts: and some by being full orphan children.

Q. How does the society care for the children?

A. Boards them in Abilene until a suitable permanent home can be found.

Q. Is adoption Compulsory?

A. Adoption preferred, in all cases child must be taken as an own child.

Q. After a child is placed, what does it cost for adoption and what steps are necessary?

Q. Adoption free. The Society furnishes all papers with directions how to proceed.

Q. How is the work supported?

A. By voluntary donations. It has no claim on State, County, Lodge or Church.

Q. Does the Society ever rear a child in the Detention Home?

A. Every child taken is placed in a good family home.

Q. Is any record kept of these children?

A. A complete record of every child is kept in the office. Each child is kept up with by communication and by visitation.

Q. Is this method of caring for children less expensive than rearing children in institutions?

A. Yes. It is only about 10 per cent as much.

Q. Do these children usually turn out well?

A. They do. More than 95 per cent turn out as well as children reared in their own homes.

Q. How does the Society help the State?

A. It takes the burden from the State of caring for the Dependent Children. It makes good citizens out of those children that would otherwise be outlaws, criminals, etc. It saves the tax payers thousands of dollars that would be necessary to prosecute criminals and care for paupers. "Save the children of today and you save the Nation of Tomorrow."

Q. How can I help in the great work of Child Saving?

A. By notifying the Society of any child needing a home, or any home needing a child. Your contributions will also help to make the work more efficient.


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