Friends of Miss Hannah Hyatt cautioned her about giving her home and 80 acre farm in 1894 to the “Baptists” who were seeking to open an orphans’ home in Arkansas. But she unwaveringly replied, “I have made a covenant with the Lord and I will not break my vow.”
Following God’s direction, Hyatt handed over her Monticello home and farm to the Arkansas Baptist Orphan's Home, now called The Arkansas Baptist Home for Children in Monticello. Hyatt became the Home's first matron. The Home admitted its first four children in 1896.
By 1902, 54 children were living at the home. Two horses were purchased as well as 160 acres of adjoining land.
In 1923, following a fire that burned the boys' dormitory and the schoolroom, Mrs. George Bottoms of Texarkana provided major funding for two new dormitories. As a result of her generosity, the Home was renamed the Bottoms Baptist Orphanage in 1924.
The Arkansas Baptist State Convention in 1926 approved an annual offering be taken around Thanksgiving to support the ministry to orphans. The offering has long been a means of financial support for ABCHomes.
In 1938, fire destroyed the original Hyatt home, which served as the Homes’ administration building. In its place, a new administration office was completed and dedicated in 1939. It still stands today.
Since the 1930s, most of the children in care were not orphans but dependent and neglected children. To better reflect this shift, the name was changed from the Bottom’s Orphanage to the Arkansas Baptist Home for Children in 1961. The children were no longer housed in large dormitories but in cottages, which reflected a more home like setting.
Nineteen sixty-eight marked the beginning of an era of growth, when a Little Rock area office opened to assist with families and childcare needs of people in Central Arkansas. A year later, Jonesboro became home to an area office.
A Group Home for Boys opened in 1970 in Jonesboro, and the Arkansas Baptist Boys was established in Harrison in 1989. In 1994, the Jonesboro home was closed and relocated to the Ranch.
Continuing in its ministry to children and families in crisis, ABCHomes opened Promise House, a home for unwed teen mothers, in El Dorado in 1991. It was relocated to Little Rock in 1999.
And today, ABCHomes also operates three emergency receiving homes in Judsonia, Paragould and West Fork. Counseling services are provided in seven locations around the state.