Carrie Steele Logan – New Georgia Encyclopedia
Carrie Steele Logan founded the Carrie Steele Orphan Home in Atlanta, recognized as the oldest predominantly black orphanage in Georgia and perhaps the oldest such organization in the country.
She was born a slave in Georgia in 1829, according to interviews; like many former slaves, there is no birth certificate and no information about his parents. Unlike many African Americans of her time, however, she learned to read and write. After emancipation, she was matron of the Macon train depot for sixteen years. She then worked as a “stewardess” or maid for the Central of Georgia Railway at Atlanta’s Union Station depot for twenty years. Concerned about the large number of homeless African-American children in downtown Atlanta, Steele received permission from the station to put the children in a boxcar during the day so she could watch them. She brought the abandoned children home until they outgrew the capacity of her cottage on Wheat Street (later Auburn Avenue). She eventually resigned from the depot and married a minister, Joseph or Josehia Logan of New York. It is not known if they themselves had children.
Logan wrote a book telling his life story and sold it to raise money to build an orphanage. She also sold her house and solicited donations from the community. In 1888, the Carrie Steele Orphan Home was chartered by contract between Steele and Fulton County. The original structure was a two-room house that could accommodate five orphans. A three-story brick structure was built in 1892 for $5,000 and provided a non-denominational home for fifty children. The Atlanta Mayor and City Council extended the original four-acre lease on Roy Street from ten to ninety-nine years. The orphanage was established to serve as a place where homeless African American children can be educated, study religion, and learn skills in order to find employment. A quote attributed to Logan was published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1989:[The orphanage] is intended to care for and train for honest labor the hundreds of orphans of color growing up as material for the chain gang. She served as director of the orphanage until her death in 1900.
The orphanage has housed over 20,000 children since its inception in 1888. In 1963, the facility was moved to a twenty-three-acre (later twenty-six acre) site northwest of Atlanta. Known as the Carrie Steele-Pitts Home, the private nonprofit continues Logan’s mission of providing shelter and teaching skills to orphaned children in Atlanta. The name of the facility was changed in 1950 to recognize the dedication of Clara Maxwell Pitts, who served as director of the orphanage from 1909 to 1950, and who organized a Women’s Auxiliary Council and established the Board of Trustees.
Logan died at age seventy-one and is buried in Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta. Her epitaph reads: “The mother of orphans. She did what she could. For her contribution to the welfare of children, Logan was inducted into the Georgia Women of Achievement in 1998.