Hutchins Library
Special Collections & Archives
Guide to the Buckhorn Children's Center Collection, History

Accession Number: 45
Buckhorn Children's Center Collection
Selected Records, 1874-1979
Selected Photographs, 1900-1980
Online Catalog Record (BANC)

Part A - Selected Records
        Series I - Presbyterian Orphan Home Society of Louisville  (Presbyterian Synod Home for Children) 1874-1956
        Series II - Buckhorn Association, 1902-1960
        Series III - Presbyterian Child Welfare Agency, 1954-1979
Part B - Selected Photographs


In 1902, Reverend Harvey Murdoch came to Buckhorn, Perry County, Kentucky as the Field Secretary of the E. O. Guerrant Society of Soul Winners. It was Rev. Murdoch's dream to develop a Christian school to serve the area's isolated residents. There were no public or private educational facilities for miles around, and local residents were eager to help.

Murdoch named his school "Witherspoon College" after the only minister to sign the Declaration of Independence. He wanted students in their twenties and thirties to have the dignity of attending college. The "College" part of Murdock's dream never was actualized. However, by the time of his death in 1935, an extensive educational enterprise had been established. It included grades one through twelve, dormitories, gym, farm and dairy herd for over 200 resident boys and girls, and a full time staff. There was also a hospital that at the time, was the only one within a radius of 100 miles.

Reverend Elmer Gabbard succeeded Murdoch and for twenty years continued Buckhorn School's development. During this first fifty years, Buckhorn provided an education for some 2,500 boys and girls.

The 1950's saw many changes for Buckhorn and the surrounding region. Paved roads were built and a public school was established by the Perry County Board of Education. As a result, Buckhorn's focus shifted from education to care for dependent children as reflected in the organizational name change to, Presbyterian Child Welfare Agency (later Buckhorn Children's Center).

At the time of this writing (1980s), Buckhorn Children's Center offers an open campus setting for the care and treatment of boys and girls from ages eleven to fifteen. The Center's program is designed for children considered not to be a threat to themselves or others and otherwise able to function in a normal classroom setting. Center staff includes an executive director, one or more social workers; house-parents; and other support personnel in the areas of education, recreation and health.

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