Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 15, 1956

The Truth About Those Orphan Children

Huston Gateley, Irvine, Kentucky

One year ago today (Oct. 2, 1955) in a pond near Irvine and in the presence of the small band of Christians here at Irvine we baptized Mrs. Grace Richardson for the remission of her sins. Sister Richardson was the victim of Hotchkins disease and did not have but a short time to live. Her husband was and is serving a life sentence in the penitentiary in Indiana. They had five boys ranging in age from five to twelve. Sister Richardson was concerned about their welfare after she died. She realized that if arrangements were not made the children would go into the homes of relatives who were not members of the church of Christ. She sent word that she wanted me to come and talk with her about her children. When I went to talk with Sister Richardson she said that she wanted to place all of the children in a private Christian home and she didn't want them to be separated. These were the mother's wishes. (See STATEMENTS 1-A.) I told her that it would probably be difficult to find private homes that would take all five of them. (I didn't realize at that time that there were so many Christian couples wanting children.) I suggested to her that we put an article in a brotherhood paper and also that we write to an orphan home or two. She objected to placing them in an orphan home. (See STATEMENTS I-A.) I reasoned with her and told her that it would be better to place them in an orphan home where they could stay together and learn the truth than for them to go into the homes of relatives where they would probably never become members of the church of Christ. I told her that a private Christian home would be best, but an orphan home where they would learn the truth would be better than where they would go. She agreed that this was right so I wrote an article and sent it to the Guardian (The Gospel Guardian, Dec.15, 1955, P. 4) and I also wrote a letter to Potter Orphan Home. I received the applications from Potters and filled them out and she signed them. (Nov. 15, 1955.) She was planning to write her husband and see if he would sign them. She told me that she believed that she could persuade him to sign them. (She died before she could write him.) She told me not to send those papers in until after she died. (See STATEMENTS 1-C.) Meanwhile we began to receive replies from the Guardian readers. (In case you are wondering how we received replies from the article in the Guardian dated December 15, 1955 when Sister Richardson died December 15, 1955, we notice the following explanation: Evidently many receive their copies of the Guardian several days before the date on the front of the Guardian, because I have a letter from Abilene, Texas, dated December 12, 1955, and postmarked December 13, 1955, and the first sentence says, "The December 15, 1955, issue of The Gospel Guardian arrived today in which your letter to Brother Tant was printed on page 4." I have six letters from various places which are dated and were written before December 15, 1955.) I carried some of the letters to her, but she was too far gone, she died December 16, 1955.

Before Sister Richardson died I had heard rumors to the effect that the Welfare Department had said that the Potter applications, signed by Sister Richardson, were no good without the father's signature. I talked with Guy Duerson, Attorney at Law, Berea, Kentucky, and he told me, based on Kentucky laws, that the papers were not good without the father's signature. (See STATEMENT II)

I conducted funeral services for Sister Richardson December 18, 1955. The following Monday morning, December 19, 1955, I talked with and presented the Potter Orphan Home applications, signed by Sister Richardson, to the Welfare Department here at Irvine. They looked over the applications and said that they were of no value without the father's signature. (See STATEMENT III.) Hence, there was nothing left for me to do. However, I wrote the father to see if he would agree to have them placed in a Christian home. (I knew that he would not sign anything to place them in an orphan home because some of the relatives had already written him that we were trying to place his children in an orphan home. (See STATEMENT 1-B.) I received a reply through the chaplin that he was torn up by his wife's death and was not able to make a decision at the present time, but he (chaplin) would notify me of any decision that he made. I waited some time for a reply but didn't receive any. I wrote him another letter, but have never received an answer to it.

A date was set (December 27, 1955) for the relatives, welfare worker, judge and myself to meet with regard to the children. The welfare worker was sick and not able to be at the meeting so the meeting was postponed until December 29, 1955. Due to circumstances beyond my control I did not arrive at the meeting until it was almost over. The decision had been made to place the children in the homes of the father's relatives. However, there was nothing that I could have done had I been there. I had already presented all I had and told all I knew about the case. Furthermore, the father of the children had written the Welfare Department asking that the children be placed with his parents that they might take care of them until he got out of prison. (He is expected to be out in ten or twelve years.) (See STATEMENT III.) Again, the Welfare Worker said that in talking with Mrs. Richardson a short time before her death she made statements that caused him to believe that she was sorry that she had ever signed the Potter Orphan Home applications. (See STATEMENT III.) (Personally, I believe that the Welfare Worker misunderstood the statements that Sister Richardson made.)

On February 11, 1956, Brother E. J. Bonner wrote me and asked me to mail to him the applications that Sister Richardson had signed. He stated, "You state that the father is serving a life time sentence in the Indiana State Prison. That automatically eliminates his claims to the children, as he will never be able to do anything for them. However, it would be necessary for this institution to ask the court to relinquish his claims to the boys, and by doing this it would give us the legal custody of them and we would be in position to place them in Christian homes for adoption." After waiting a reasonable time for the father to answer my letter I sent the applications to Brother Bonner.

Ever since my second article in the Gospel Guardian (Feb. 16, 1956, P. 3) and ever since I sent a signed statement to Brother Porter during the Porter-Woods debate in Indianapolis in which I simply stated the facts of how many children could have been placed in private Christian homes as a result of the article published in the December 15, 1955 issue of the Gospel Guardian, a lot of false brethren have lied and misrepresented the facts concerning the children and what was done. They have lied and misrepresented positions that I take on various issues. They have made attempts and used most any underhanded means they could to try to stop our support, starve us out and run us out of this section. They may succeed in stopping some of our support, but I'll say this, this is one "little" preacher whose headquarters is not in Nashville, Tennessee, and no individual or group of individuals are going to "pressure" me into preaching anything. If I know my heart like I think I do, there is not enough money in Nashville nor anywhere else to make me "bow down" to any group. It looks like that I'm going to have to get me a job to provide for my family and keep soul and body together and then preach at night and other times that I have available, but I had rather dig ditches for $4.00 a day and preach what I believe to be the truth than to line up with some outfit and draw $500.00 a month and preach to please them. Brethren, I'm not in the ear-scratching business.

A good example of ignorance, misrepresenting and lying is found in W. L. Totty's church bulletin of July 22, 1956. After publishing this in his bulletin July 22, 1956, Brother Totty, while in a lectureship in this section August 13-17, came to Irvine, talked with the Welfare Department, and with a member of the church here to get some information about the case. He wrote his article just like "he" wanted it and then came up to get his information. (By the way, his bulletin is entitled, The Informer. The informant who informed The Informer needs to be informed.) He didn't come by and talk with me about the children, although, unless he went the long way around, he drove within 100 yards of where I live. After getting the facts, one would have thought that Brother Totty would have written an apology and correction in his bulletin, but not Brother Totty, he went back home and ignored completely what he was told by the Welfare Department and Sister Hubert Hardy and sat down and wrote another article just like "he" wanted it and sent it to the Gospel Advocate (Sept. 27, 1956, P. 798) which was very little if any improvement over the first one. (Maybe it was a little shorter.)

This article by Brother Totty has been presented to two lawyers who were familiar with the proceedings regarding the Richardson children, both of them said that the article is libelous and slanderous. One of them, after reading the article, looked at the front of the Advocate and said, "Does this outfit have any money?" I told him that we were not interested in suing them, but only wanted to present the truth before our brethren. He further stated that, "this man (Totty) is just completely ignoring what the law says." Yes, Brother Totty ignored what the law says, what the Welfare Worker said, what Sister Hardy said, because none of them said what Brother Totty wanted to hear.

We did not object to Brother Totty's coming up to investigate, (We do wish that he would have paid some attention to it.) but do regret his conduct and attitude while talking to the Welfare Department. After having been in to talk with the Welfare Worker that morning he came back later in the day and tried to misrepresent what she told him that morning. We do not appreciate that kind of advertising for the church of Christ here in Irvine. Since Brother Totty was in a Bible Lectureship at Upper Spencer church of Christ August 13-17 and had been advertised throughout this area as "one of the best known preachers in the church of Christ today" I felt obligated to apologize to the Welfare Department for his conduct. I did and told them not to think that he is a typical example of members of the church of Christ in Irvine. (See STATEMENT III.)

Others, besides Brother Totty have misrepresented the truth about the children both orally and written. The following are some misrepresentations that need to be clarified:

1. "What right did the editor of the Gospel Guardian have to meddle into an affair to which he was in no way related? The mother of the children had not asked his assistance in obtaining homes for her children. This meddling was done purely without any authority from the mother." (The Informer, July 22, 1956, P. 3.)

Answer. I'm not set for the defense of the Gospel Guardian, but for the truth and this is absolutely not the truth. Brother Tant placed my article in the Guardian because I asked him to, I asked him to because Sister Richardson wanted me to and a private Christian home was her primary desire. (See STATEMENT I-A.) The Gospel Guardian was a medium that Sister Richardson and I were using to locate Christian couples who would adopt her children. If I had written an article to the Gospel Advocate I wonder if the same charge would have been made.

2. "On January 10, 1966, Huston Gateley wrote to Yater ,Tant, editor of the Gospel Guardian, and said, 'The mother died (Dec. 16, 1955) before we could make any arrangements with her about the children.' When Huston Gateley wrote that he knew that arrangements had been made by her to place the children in Potter Orphan Home, because he signed the application as a witness on the 14th day of November, 1965, at Irvine, Kentucky." (The Informer, July 22, 1956, P. 4.)

Answer. My statement which Brother Totty quoted from my letter to Brother Tant January 10, 1956, is true from two standpoints: In the first place I was replying in that article to the Guardian readers who had written and telephoned in an effort to try to adopt the children, and was speaking of arrangements in the sense of a private Christian home as the first sentence in my article will bear out. Surely anyone capable of reading the article could have seen that. Secondly, since a lawyer and the Welfare Department had told me that the papers were no good without the father's signature then no definite arrangements had been made. Furthermore let it be known that since the children are not now in Potter Orphan Home is evidence to the fact that the papers were no good and that no arrangements had been made.

3. "Interfering With Justice" (The title of W. L. Totty's article found in The Informer, July 22, 1966.) "Those children were separated and some of them placed in one home and some in another. According to the information which we have obtained, the homes into which those children went are non-religious homes. They are not members of any church; therefore they are being reared without any knowledge et the church or what God would have them to do to be saved. Somebody is going to be responsible for the souls of those children." (The Informer, July 22, 1956.) "Ye Gave Me No Meat" (Title of W. L. Totty's article in the Gospel Advocate, Sept. 27, 1956, P. 798.) Thus it is "inferred" that either I or the Gospel Guardian, or both, will be responsible for those children if they are lost.

Answer. I certainly regret that the children were not placed where they might come to a knowledge of the truth. As I've stated before, I would much rather they had gone to Potter Orphan Home where they could have been placed for adoption (Brother Bonner told me that he might be able to place them in one of the 12 homes who wrote about them), than for them to go where they did. However, they went where they did because the court made the decision. Neither I nor the Gospel Guardian placed the children where they are. It is the policy of the Welfare Department to keep children with one of the parents if possible, if not then place them with blood relatives, if not able to do this place them for adoption or in an institution. (See STATEMENT III.) The only way that the children could have been placed in Potter Orphan Home would have been for the father to have signed the papers or his parental rights terminated by the court. Before his rights to his children could have been terminated it would have had to be proven to the court that he neglected and did not provide for his family prior to his being put in prison which is not true. (See STATEMENTS II and III.) I'll wait and let the Lord, the righteous judge decide the matter. (See STATEMENT IV.) If those Potter applications are good as Brother Totty and others say and they haven't placed them in Potter Orphan Home where they can learn the truth then it is very obvious who will be responsible for their souls.

These brethren are condemning themselves. Regardless of what I did or didn't do, we had 12 families desiring to adopt all five of the boys and 86 children could have been placed in Christian homes as a result of my article in The Guardian and this is what irks these brethren and causes them to misrepresent the truth. It is an unanswerable argument.

Since articles have been published both in the Advocate and the Guardian regarding the Richardson children and it has been given wide publicity elsewhere I'm sending copies of this article both to Brother Goodpasture and Brother Tant and asking that they publish it as soon as possible.

Statements I


A. This is to certify that Mrs. Grace Richardson desired her children to be placed in private Christian homes and only agreed to make application for them to placed in an orphanage after it was pointed out to her that it might be difficult to find private homes that could take all five children, and that it would be better for them to be placed is an orphanage where they would be taught the Bible and become Christians than to be placed in the home of relatives where they would not learn the truth of God's word.

B. Furthermore, be it understood that none of the relatives on either side desired that the children be placed in an orphanage, and that none consented for them to be placed in an orphanage until after she signed the applications and that some never did consent.

C. Be it furthermore understood that Mrs. Grace Richardson asked Huston Gateley not to mail the application for her children to enter Potter Orphan Home until after she died. That in the meantime she planned to write her husband to get him to sign the applications, but died before she was able to do so.

Signed: Emma Wilson Hendricks (Grace Richardson's mother) Signed: J. C. Webb (Grace Richardson's Grandfather)

(Note: Sister Richardson lived in the home with Mr. Webb, her grandfather and her mother, Mrs. Hendricks, lived about 100 yards from her and ministered unto her during her sickness until her death. If anyone knows what Sister Richardson desired, they should.)



This is to certify that I, Guy K. Duerson, Attorney at Law, prior to the death of Mrs. Grace Richardson on December 16, 1955, advised Huston Gateley that the children of Mrs. Richardson could not be placed in an orphan's home or with a family for adoption unless the parental rights of the mother and father were terminated by voluntary or involuntary consent of each parent. At that time he further presented to me papers signed by Mrs. Richardson by which she voluntarily consented to place the children in an orphan's home, and I informed Mr. Gateley that such papers would have to be signed by Mr. Richardson to deprive Mr. Richardson of his custody rights to these children.

The involuntary termination of parental rights in Kentucky requires instigation of legal proceedings as provided for under the provisions of the Kentucky Revised Statutes Section 199.600. The provisions for voluntary termination of parental rights in Kentucky are set forth in Kentucky Revised Statutes Sections 199.500 and 199.620. Witness my signature this 1st day of October, 1956.

Signed: Guy K. Duerson, Jr.

Attorney at Law Berea, Kentucky


Due to the fact that the state does not allow the Welfare Department to issue signed statements we were not able to obtain statements from the Welfare Department. However, when in the article you are cited to this number (III) the statement can and will be verified orally by the Welfare Department.

Signed: Mrs. Hubert Hardy Irvine, Kentucky



This is to certify that I, Mrs. Hubert Hardy, told Brother W. L. Totty, when questioning me concerning the Richardson children that Brother Gateley did everything that he knew to do to place the children either in a private Christian home or in Potter Orphan Home.

NOTE: I have the originals of all these statements in my possession.