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(Vine Street)
315 Gillespie Road
Chattanooga, Tennessee

The history of the Children's Home in Chattanooga, Tennessee, can be traced back to 1872 when a group of concerned women began to rescue orphaned children.  Their effort became known as the Women's Christian Association.  The organization continued to grow and a larger facility was built on Vine Street in 1913.  With the new building came a new name:  The Vine Street Orphans' Home.  In 1939, it moved to its present facility on Gillespie Road.  In 1955, the name was changed to Children's Home.   In 1969, the facilities changed to the Children's Home Extended Care program.  In 1983, the Children's Home contracted with Hamilton County government to provide emergency shelter for children and then became known as the Children's Home/Chambliss Shelter as it is operated today.
(Excerpts taken from the Children's Home/Chambliss Shelter pamphlet)

This page of the Bonny Oaks website is dedicated to the Children's Home in Chattanooga, Tennessee, or, as we called it "Vine Street".  Many of the Bonny Oaks children came from Vine Street when they reached junior high school age as Vine Street only took infants and children up to age 12 or so.  Some of the Bonny Oaks children had siblings who remained there while they lived at Bonny Oaks.  Thus we always considered Vine Street as our "sister" children's home.

On a recent visit to Vine Street, James Ellis and I met with Gloria Miller, Director of Records, and Mrs. Paulette Acord, Director of Volunteer Services.   Ms. Miller and Mrs. Acord were extremely kind and helpful to us.   Ms. Miller opened the boxes of newspaper articles and photographs from it's children's home days and gave permission for them to be scanned for this website.  The next day, James Ellis and I carried computer equipment and set up at Vine Street for a full day of scanning.  James was immensely helpful and deserves a lot of credit for hanging in there to help in researching everything in the boxes.  Thank you James Ellis!

The first picture we picked up to scan was a group photo of children around 1958/1959 which had myself in it and, to my surprise, my sister, my two brothers.  You may see other Bonny Oaks friends of yours in the pictures when they were very young too.  Actually, I was quite surprised to find many Bonny Oaks children whom I knew very well at Bonny Oaks yet never realized or remembered that they were at Vine Street during the years I was there because we were so young at the time.

Children's Home effectively ended it's dedicated mission as a home for children in 1969.  This page only addresses it's tenure as a children's home.  The Children's Home was never a county operated home like Bonny Oaks.

vine_street_gloria_miller_2.jpg (37202 bytes) These newspaper clippings and photographs would not have been available to us without the consent of Ms. Miller (pictured left) and we are deeply indebted and grateful to her.



Emails regarding Vine Street:

July 7, 2014

I thought you would like to receive the latest photo of Larry and me at the "Pickens County Senior Citizens Center" in Jasper, Georgia.  The Site Manager, Kimberly Bolt, took a group shot of all the seniors that showed up for the 4th of July Party.  I hope you can see both of us.  We are standing in the very back. Take Care!  Sincerely, Roy Lee Dunn  rldunn3155@outlook.com

January 30, 2014

I am doing family history research on my husband's side.  His grandmother, Ella Bernard, was sent to live at Vine Street Orphan's Home as a child or teen, but we do not know how old she was or what year, but think it may have been around 1880.   She apparently ended up working at Vine Street in her late teens.  She was listed as a "cook" at Vine Street in the Chattanooga Directory in 1889 and in 1891 she was listed in the City Directory as the "Assistant Matron.  Ella Bernard's birth name was Marguerite Elaine Bernard, but apparently she used Ella as her first name.  Family records indicate that Ella's mother died very young and that Ella was sent to Vine Street after her father's remarriage or death".

Do you have any records of children or teens who lived at Vine Street in the period from 1875-1891?  Would you have any information about her parents from the records?  Her father was Charles Bernard and her mother, we think, was Virginia Bernard. 

We know what happened to Ella because she married my husband's grandfather, William Crouch and they moved to Minnesota.  But we know almost nothing about Ella's parents.  And that is the reason I am hoping there may be some records about Ella's parents (my husband's great-grandparents) In the Vine Street records. 
Thank you for your help, if possible!
Karen Crouch
April 22, 2013

Here is a real treat for the website.

Click on underlined link below to read Roy's writings about the Children's Home

Roy Lee Dunn grew up at the Children's Home on Gillespie Road in Brainerd, Chattanooga 1951 - 1965.  He has written some of his memories for us.  It's a great insight into his childhood in a children's home, in Roy Lee's own words.  Please take the time to read and you'll see how important it is to write your memories, some of Roy Lee's memories were some of mine too at the Children's Home...the Christmas' efforts of the home for the children, and even when the maintenance man passed away in his room at the home....I had been there maybe a few months when Otis died and I remember it still.  Thank you Roy Lee, I hope others will be moved to send in their memories from the Children's Home and Bonny Oaks too!  Christine Haven

Roy Lee's email address is rldunn3155@outlook.com

Click here to read Roy Lee Dunn's "Memories" of his days at the Children's Home (Vine Street) Orphanage 1951 - 1965 



Click to enlarge
Larry Dunn (left)
Roy Lee Dunn (middle)
Nancy Jane Dunn (right)
Nancy Jane Dunn-Floyd 11/8/1944 - 9/15/2012
Nancy Dunn, Vine Street,  passed away today at the age of 67 in Pensacola Florida due to  cancer.  Her brother, Roy Lee Dunn called to let us know.  All our prayers and condolences to the Dunn family.
Rest in Peace Nancy.

6/28/2012 Roy Lee Dunn - Vine Street 1951 - 1965
Birthday 10/15/48
Roy found the www.bonnyoaks.org website and remembers many of the Vine Street children he grew up and wants to hear from you.  Roy attended Brainerd Jr.  & Sr. Highs about 1960-1965.  Roy was born in 1948 and lives in Powder Springs Georgia today.  He has sent his personal photographs and would love to hear from you.  Just click on the link below and it will bring up his photo page. 
"Thanks  to Roy for all your patience in getting this on the website, hope you hear from lots of old friends"

Hello Bonny Oaks/Vine Street:  We have been searching for our uncle Thomas Odel TUCKER born March 1919 in Muhlenburg, KY.  He is found in the 1920 Lauderdale County, TN census with his Maternal Aunt "PARKER" & Uncle "DURHAM" sometime in the 1920's he and two girl cousins (PARKER) were taken to the "Vine street Orphanage".  The girls went back to live with family, but "Odel" stayed and was adopted.  Can you help us trace the life of Odel TUCKER?  Mary in AZ
lmawakr@aol.com or imawakr@aol.com

1/02/2010 Email from Phillip, Ringgold Georgia:  "My name is Phillip and my mom (1945-1952) was adopted from the Vine Street Orphanage.  They were adopted by Bill and Margorie Balinger.  Would like to find my biological grandparents.  tennvols@ymail.com
7/16/2007 Hi Christine,  I  have someone looking in those areas you suggested.  I know that Mom Della went back to Tennessee several years before I became part of the family to get a copy of her birth certificate and they had quite a time as they were told many of the records were burned in a fire (courthouse).  We were hoping that by posting our search for her sister on the webpage that if the sister looks at the website and sees it she may contact us.   I have several papers that Mom D. gave me copies of from when she had to hire a lawyer just to get the birth certificate in order to obtain her passport.    There is a letter signed by Sally Kate Jackson from The Children's Home dated January of 1999.  She sent a page titled "Register of Children in Vine Street Orphans' Home"  and they are filled out in hand showing her date of entry and exit when she was adopted by the George's.  There is a notation on the bottom regarding the sister.  I think this is the first time Mom D. knew she even had a sibling.
I looked back on the webpage and printed off some of the photos for her.  There was one of a 3 story house and I am thinking this is where she would have been taken.  If I am incorrect would you please help me know a little clearer history for the Vine Street Orphanage so I can give her this information?  Thank you for your time and attention.  Christian Matlock
7/2/2007 Hi Christian,  My first advice is to read the "To Register" page of the www.bonnyoaks.com website.  It has instructions for tracing records through the juvenile system of Chattanooga but "adoptions" questions are supposed to be directed to the Nashville Tennessee departments.  I cannot check those pages from my office at work but could tonight when I get home.  Just thought I'd point you in that direction in case you're hoping for a quick answer this morning.   My records are not extensive as you are needing.  I will write more tonight.  Always, Christine Haven
7/2/2007 Good morning, my name is Christian Matlock and I am trying to help my mother-in-love find her sister.  Her name is Della Matlock.  She was born Mary Skidmore on June 4, 1932 and taken to the Vine Street Orphanage at that time.  The name of parents on her birth record are Mary Skidmore and James Cunningham.  She was moved into the home of Kelly and M. Grace George on July 28, 1934 and the adoption became finalized in 1935.    Her sister was born November 5, 1933 with the name of Mildred Joyce Skidmore (there is a possibility it could say Fuller) as there isn't real clarity on whether the dad is the same as it was for Mary.  Mildred was brought to the orphanage on November 7, 1933.  Her parents of record are Mary Skidmore and the father's name could be either James (there is thought records may have recorded the first name as John) Cunningham or it could be M. Fuller.   She was adopted from the home in October (led to believe it was on the 6th) 1934 by a Mr. & Mrs. Fred Mayfield of Pikeville Tennessee.   Since Della, growing up, always celebrated her birthday on the 3rd of June she thinks that Mildred's birth date may be celebrated different as well.     She would love to find this sister whom she's never met but loved from the time she discovered she had.  We, her children would love to give her this gift as well.  If you have any ideas of where we can continue the search or if you can allow Della to be able to post something on the website she would be ever grateful.  She doesn't have a computer and therefore has asked me to use my email address as her contact.  I appreciate your time in reading and pondering this request.
Blessings to you,
Christian Matlock

Brenda S. Miller
Vine Street 1949-1955
Message:  "I was in the Vine Street Orphanage from 1949 to 1955.  I would like to see if I could get any records regarding my stay there.  My name at the time was Brenda S. Miller.  I was born in September 1945.  My mother and father are now both deceased.  They were Nora Ruth Benson Miller and Fred J. Miller.  I would appreciate hearing from you.  I am searching for Lynn Golden.  I am living in Tangerine Florida today.  Thank you.  Email address is bs4529@aol.com


Bonnie Jean Bools
Bonny Oaks 1952
Vine Street 1944-1952
Message:  "Hi, I'm Bonnie Jean Bools (Hagan).  I'm now 66 years old. (I AM?).  I live in Joplin, MO.  I've just been on the Bonny Oaks site, clicked on Vine Street site and read the email from Mary Alyce Adams.  I was at Vine Street from 1944 til 1952.  I don't remember Mary Alyce, but she may remember some of the girls I remember.  I would LOVE to hear from some of them like Nancy Goins, Melinda Williams, Patricia Shell and others.  I was also at Bonny Oaks and remember how nice Mr. Adamson was.  Unfortunately, I got put in with an older roommate who was planning to run away.  She did so almost a year later with 3 other girls, taking me with them insured my silence.  My life has been pretty good-not too much to complain about!  I was just thinking about my life, and that last statement is just too hilarious!!  But, I have fun!  Send this on, if you please, thanks, Bonnie."
You can email Bonnie at bugbarns@cableone.net

3/28/05 Mary Alyce Adams (Reels)
Vine Street:  1949 to 1951 (2.5 years)
Message:  Mary lives in North Carolina today.  If you want to contact her, send me an email and I will clear the address for you (Chris at texasbonny@yahoo.com )
12/04/2004 Patricia A. Morgan (Dunsha Smith) and sister, Betty Morgan
Message:  "Resident of Vine Street Orphanage approximately 1953 when I was approximately 1 to 2 years of age!  I have searched for this website for a long time but was unable to find it in the past.  I had many brothers and sisters.  One of my sisters came to the Vine Street Orphanage with me.  We were later adopted and moved to East Tennessee.  We would love to find pictures of the two of us from our stay there since we do not have any!  My name was Patricia Morgan at that time.  My sister's name was Betty Morgan.  I stayed at Vine Street approximately one year.  Other brothers and sisters who were older went to the Bachman Home and they have wonderful memories of that place.  I would love to be in contact with anyone who was there when I was in the early 1950's!  Thanks!"


Father and Mother unknown but I am looking for aunts, uncles, step-siblings, and biological relatives.
Message:  "I was born 06/23/59 and was placed at Vine Street Orphanage in 09/59, so I was only about 3 months old when I first arrived there (09/1959 to 01/1962).  My given name while I was there was Margaret Alice.  Last name is unknown.  The only information I have is that my Biological grandfather was a Baptist preacher and that he came to visit me often while I was there and that my biological mother had six siblings (mixture of brothers and sisters) and she was the 4th born of these.  I was also told that her oldest brother had died.  I read in the little bit of information that was in the adoption papers that my biological mother may have been a hairdresser's apprentice.  Rebecca McCracken was the caseworker for the adoptive parents.
If anyone has even the slightest memory of anything they feel may be related to, or of help, to me to the information I have stated here, PLEASE DON'T HESITATE TO CONTACT ME!  You can email me through Patricia at this address iluv2pla2@yahoo.com   ANYTHING you may have to say on this matter would be tremendously appreciated!  Sincerely, Margaret C.A. Shepherd

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