Mattie Mallory for the Children

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Her name was Mattie Mallory, and she had a compassionate heart for orphan children. She was the founder of Nazarene social work in the Southwest, starting both the Oklahoma Orphanage and the Peniel Orphanage before 1902. J. T. Roberts assisted in her work in Oklahoma City and Pilot Point, Texas, before launching Rest Cottage, his ministry to unwed mothers.


Mattie Mallory was born in Ottawa, Kansas, in 1865. Historian Charles Edwin Jones notes that Ottawa was near the heart of “bleeding Kansas” and that her parents “were apparently part of the tide of free-staters and abolitionists [flooding] into the area before and during the Civil War.” Mallory graduated from Baker University, a Methodist college, and began teaching after a further year of study at the teachers’ college in Emporia. In 1892 she became principle of Dawes Academy in Berwyn, Indian Territory. The school was part of an American Baptist home mission work within the Chickasaw nation. In Berwyn, she made contact with the Holiness Movement, albeit in the aberrant form of the Fire-Baptized Holiness Association (which held to three works of grace: conversion, entire sanctification, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit).


In September 1897, Mallory started an orphans’ school in Oklahoma City. By January, an orphanage with 12 children was in place. Mallory sought financial backers, found them among the Fire-Baptized people, and the Oklahoma Orphanage was incorporated in 1899. She broke with the Fire-Baptized folk the next year, however, and in 1901 her work was endorsed by the Holiness Association of Texas. C. B. Jernigan later called Mallory a decisive force in establishing a “safe work” (orthodox and void of fanaticism) in the state. The Guide, edited by Mallory, was the orphanage’s official paper. It shows that various people later associated with the Nazarene center in Pilot Point were linked to the orphanage’s early ministry.


In 1901 Mallory established a branch, the Franklin Orphans’ Home, at Pilot Point. It moved to Peniel in 1902, becoming an institution of the state holiness association. Another branch orphanage, the Bethesda Home and Mission, operated for a time in Wynnewood, Indian Territory, under her direction.


Meanwhile, Mallory moved the main school and orphanage away from downtown Oklahoma City. Using her inheritance, she purchased rural property north of the city and relocated the children. Three years later, they moved farther out and founded the Beulah Heights community, where a colony of holiness folk gathered around her enterprises, which soon included a home for unwed mothers. The Oklahoma Orphanage and Rescue Commission was created to administer the orphanage and mothers’ home. Mallory was also a cofounder of the Holiness Association of Oklahoma and Indian Territory.


The Beulah Heights colony was considering yet another move when C. B. Jernigan arrived in 1909 to organize the Oklahoma-Kansas District of the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene. Mattie Mallory and her associates united with the Nazarenes at this time. The Beulah Heights property was sold to purchase land west of the city, where the community of Bethany was planted. Her social ministries became the core institutions of the new town. Her school for orphan children became the elementary department of Oklahoma Holiness College. Mallory perceived, however, that in the competition for church dollars, some of the enterprises might not survive. She refused to place the orphanage under church control, and it survived, while the Nazarene Home for unwed mothers directed by Mrs. Jernigan closed after seven years.


In 1912 Mallory married R. W. Morgan. She directed the orphanage until 1920, when she turned it over to civic women who founded the metropolitan Children’s Welfare League. She became a chiropractor and practiced in Oklahoma City. She died in 1938. In the meantime, she had become a Methodist. The orphanage was reorganized in 1940 as the Children’s Convalescent Center and still operates in Bethany.


The Peniel Orphanage, a spin-off of Mattie Mallory’s ministry, cared for scores of children and was operated by the church’s General Orphanage Board until 1929. Evangelists Oscar Hudson and Theodore Ludwig were active proponents of the orphanage until its end.


Ingersol, S. (August, 1995). Nazarene Roots; Mattie Mallory for the children. Herald of Holiness, 35.


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