From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

The Colored Home of the Friendless (Paducah, KY)

(start date: 1903  -  end date: 1972) 

A brief history of the Colored Home of the Friendless is provided in the registration form to the National Register of Historic Places (online .pdf). There is also an earlier brief history in the Paducah newspapers. Plans for the home were started in 1903 by the Colored Home of the Friendless Association with C. G. Burton as president. The plans were still in progress in 1907 with the proposal that the building be constructed in Rowlandtown to receive women and children. The home opened in 1910 through the efforts of  Mrs. Cora Burton and Mrs. Vina Gaines. In 1965, the name was changed to Burton and Gaines Friendly Home. There were 10 children at the home. It is believed that the Burton and Gaines Friendly Home closed around 1972.

Sources: "A Home," The Paducah Sun, 11/24/1903, front page; "Negro charity work," The Daily News=Democrat, 04/24/1907, p.2; "Colored people open home for friendless," The Paducah Evening Sun, 01/04/1910, p.4; "Friendly Home's name is changed," Sun-Democrat, 06/13/1965, p.11.

In 1926, Home of the Friendless was listed in The American Hospital Digest and Directory: a reference book for hospitals, 2nd ed., p.160. The facility was noted as a home for dependent children with a capacity for 20, and there were 3 beds. No address was given.

The home is not mentioned by name in the 1930 U.S. Census. It was located on Langstaff Avenue in Paducah, KY. Nancy Patterson was enumerated as the matron of the home, and there were nine children under the age of 8. Nancy Patterson is also listed as matron of the home in the 1933-1934 Paducah City Directory.

In 1939, the Colored Home of the Friendless, an orphanage for African American children, was located at 1404 Rudy Street in Paducah, KY (source: 1939 Paducah, KY, Consurvey Directory, v. 2). Mary Belle Purdle Merriweather (1878-1947, born in Caldwell County, KY) was the matron of the home. She was the wife of World War I veteran Luke Merriweather (1877-1921).

For more on the Merriweathers, see Mary Bell Merriweather and Luke Merriweather at

Kentucky County & Region

Read about McCracken County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Caldwell County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Paducah, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“The Colored Home of the Friendless (Paducah, KY),” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 25, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-10-28 14:03:34