For a few adults in the Tennessee Valley, Bachman Memorial Home for Children is the only home they remember. During the years of 1912 to 1989, children from babies to teenagers were sent to the Home when their families were broken by the tragedy of the death of one or both parents.
“Bachman truly helped me see that you can have a stable home life and make life long friends. And, if you just keep trying and not give up, your unfortunate situations can get better. In one word Bachman gave me hope then and now," said Ruth Brown, resident of Bachman Home from 1968 through 1974. “I think one of the most important [ways Bachman affected my life] was learning about the love for God through the church and most people that I met.”
Ruth, along with more than 70 former residents, their families, and staff of the Bachman Memorial Home for Children, gathered on the Bachman Academy campus in McDonald on Saturday, March 29, to fellowship, reminisce and see the places where they spent their early years. Wet weather did nothing to hamper the festivities as, after lunch, many toured the 200 acre campus to see the dairy barn, where they used to milk the cows and the fields where they helped to grow and harvest the food they ate.
They also wanted to see how the campus has changed over the years with the addition of horses, barns and a lake, added in the 1980’s, for fishing and swimming.
In addition to lunching together and viewing hundreds of photos from the early days, residents toured through the buildings to see their old dorm rooms. Tiny rooms that now house desks, chairs and all the accessories of business used to hold two bunk beds and four boys or girls each. Learning to get along with the other children was another important lesson Ruth learned at Bachman.
“When you are living with at least 60 other ‘brothers and sisters,’” said Ruth, “you have to get along as much as possible.”
Many alumni even asked to see the basement where a woodshop and cannery used to be. They spent many hours there shelling peas, shucking corn, ironing clothes, and playing hide and seek.
Bachman Home, founded by Dr. John Lynn Bachman, began as a one-room school in Farner, Tn., in 1912. As the educational system improved in the area, however, Bachman was no longer needed as a school. It changed focus from educating to providing a home for many orphaned children and broken families and filling a great need in the Tennessee Valley.
In 1950, Bachman Home moved to Cleveland to the site of the former Church of God Home for Children.