Singleton, Rev. Octavius S., and the National Home Finding Society for Colored Children(start date: 1909 - end date: 1950) The National Home Finding Society for Colored Children was established in 1909 by Rev. O. S. Singleton in Louisville, KY. Rev. Singleton had been the supervisor of the Kentucky Home Society for Colored Children before leaving the organization to found the National Home Finding Society for Colored Children. In 1911, there was a lawsuit to further clarify the separation of the two organizations.
The National Home Finding Society for Colored Children was incorporated in Louisville, KY, on June 23, 1909. There was no capital stock. The incorporators were [Mrs.] H. A. M. Singleton; [Dr.] E. D. Whedbee; Benjamin Z. Ekins; W. H. Perry; O. Singleton; and Isaac H. Moore. The institution was an orphanage/school at 1716 W. Chestnut Street. The purpose of the institution was to provide training to homeless and destitute children, and to find the children homes with African American families. The National Home Finding Society for Colored Children in Louisville was under the guidance of the Michigan State Board of the Corrections and Charities. The Kentucky facility was included in the Biennial Report of the Michigan State Board of the Corrections and Charities. Records relating to the National Home Finding Society for Colored Children in Louisville are noted in the Guide to Manuscripts in the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan. The records are within 1410. Harry Burns Hutchins Papers, 1879-1930.
Around 1919, the National Home Finding Society for Colored Children was operating the home in Louisville and a farm in Irvington, KY. In the 1920 U.S. Census, there were 25 children enumerated as "inmates" within the Louisville institution managed by the Singletons. The facility was nondenominational and independent. Funding came solely from donations and fundraising by Rev. Singleton, and there was no state affiliation. In 1915, Rev. Singleton had submitted an application to the parent organization in Michigan for a license to solicit public aid under Act No.68, P. A. 1915. The application was denied by the Michigan State Board of the Corrections and Charities.
In 1923, Mrs. Singleton remained in charge of the home in Louisville with one assistant. Rev. Singleton was managing the farm. The children did the work to care for the home. Other operations were moved to the Busy Bee Farm in Irvington. There were several buildings on the farm that was to be worked by the boys in the home. The society was said to have 20 board members. According to a pamphlet about the orphanage/school, there was funding received from the Breckinridge County School Board and from the Julius Rosenwald Fund to build a new school at the farm. The school was valued at $2,000. The Busy Been Farm had been sold to the Society by Theodore Ahrens, President of Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company in Louisville. Ahrens was a major supporter and contributor to the school.
The facts are not always clear about the operation of the school/orphanage. Within newspaper reports, the number of children at the school was different with each report, as was the school funding, and the size of the farm in Irvington. The founding date for the institution also changed from one report to another. A review of the school was made in 1919 by the Louisville Welfare League, and it was found that the school's work was local and not national as claimed by Rev. Singleton and indicated by the society name. Few children were placed in homes with families. There was a small number of children being cared for in Louisville and most stayed on a temporary basis before being returned to a parent or family member. About 180 children had been cared for in the home.
The Louisville facility was more of an institution than a society. The children were well cared for, better than all other Louisville institutions for African American children. The home was clean and well furnished. Overall, the National Home Finding Society for Colored Children was a small operation with little to no growth potential due to limited funding based solely on local donations and donations from northern states. The Louisville Welfare League suggested that the society align itself with the southern efforts of other Kentucky-recognized child placement agencies for African American children.
Rev. Singleton continued with his ideas of how the National Home Finding Society for Colored Children should be operated. Others attempted to emulate his methods. In 1923, Rev. L. R. Dudley was in Danville, KY, soliciting funds for the National Home Finding Society for Colored Children. Rev. Dudley was the minister at the Christian Church on Prall Street in Lexington. He had served as the Organizer for the Royal Benevolent Order Pilgrim Knights of Noak for Kentucky.
In 1923, Rev. Dudley had plans to establish a home for older boys and girls in Turnersville, KY. Before his plans could be carried out, Rev. Dudley died June 15, 1924 in Jetmore, KS. Meanwhile, in Kentucky, Rev. D. R. Langley, from Russellville, KY became a field agent who traveled about Kentucky from the early 1930s to 1940 to raise funds for the National Home Finding Society for Colored Children in Irvington, KY. Rev. Octavius Singleton was still the supervisor of the home and continued after his wife died in 1947.
Rev. Octavius Singleton (September 1868-December 31, 1950) was born in Mississippi. He is listed in the 1880 U.S. Census as the mulatto son of Alex and Martha Singleton. He was the husband of Harriet A. Mentor Singleton who was also from Mississippi. Rev. Singleton and his wife are buried in the Louisville Cemetery in Louisville, KY.
SOURCES: "Will find homes for poor colored children.," The Courier-Journal, 07/11/1909, p.16; "Finding homes," Lexington Leader, 06/11/1910, p.4; "Other news of the courts," The Courier-Journal, 07/13/1911, p.12; "Appeal is made for $2,500 to help Negroes," The Courier-Journal, 07/10/1919, p.3; "Tenth Anniversary of home to be celebrated," The Courier-Journal, 07/31/1921, p.9; "The Rev. L. R. Dudley ...," Lexington Herald, 09/12/1921, p.6; "National Home Finding Society delegate here," Danville Daily Messenger, 06/08/1923, front page; "The death of Rev. L. R. Dudley," The Lexington Herald, 07/14/1924, p.10; "The National Home Finding Society," The Lexington Herald, 02/02/1930, p.10; "Agent for colored orphanage here to seek contributions," The Park City Daily News, 02/09/1934, p.4; "Field agent in city," The News-Democrat, 07/12/1934, front page; "Langley seeks funds for Irvington home," The Lexington Leader, 09/16/1934, p.20; Rev. Octavius Singleton at Find A Grave; see "Deaths and Funerals in Louisville: Octavius Singleton," The Courier-Journal, 01/03/1951, p.4; Kentucky Death Certificate for Harriett A. M. Singleton, #1436, Registrar #21; "Mrs. O. S. Singleton dies," The Courier-Journal, 01/03/1947, p.8.
SOURCES: Government and Other Publications:
1. 24th Biennial Report of the Michigan State Board of the Corrections and Charities, 1917-1918, Detroit, April 26, 1917, p.186.
2. The National Home-Finding Society (incorporated) for Colored Children: undenominational, by the National Home Finding Society, 1900-1930?, Louisville, KY. Available at the Louisville Free Public Library.
3. Report of the Kentucky Children's Code Commission, covering child welfare legislation prior to and thru the legislative session of 1922 by Frances Ingram, Chairman. Available at Hathi Trust Digital Library.
4. See the pamphlet about the National Home Finding Society for Colored Children, about 1922, online at Digital Commonwealth Massachusetts Collections Online.
5. 1921 Financial Report, pamphlet, and letters from Rev. Octavius Singleton, online at Umbra Search.
6. See the review Chapter V. of the National Home-Finding Society for Colored Children., Child Welfare Work in Louisville by W. H. Slingerland, April 1919, pp.41-46. Online at russellsage.org.