Today, Bethany Children's Home is a regional ministry serving over 300 youth and their families, every year, in eastern Pennsylvania. However, it began in 1862 as one man's dream. On a trip home from Norfolk to Philadelphia, Rev. Emmanuel Boehringer passed through the aftermath of the Battle of Antietam, where 25,000 men lay scattered across the countryside dead or wounded. As he stopped to help bandage their wounds, many of the men asked: “What will become of my children?”
On that battlefield in Maryland, Rev. Boehringer's dream for an orphans home was born. Upon returning to Philadelphia, he began taking orphans into his own home at 702 Morris Street. On September 21, 1863, the home's first resident, six year-old Caroline Engel, arrived at the Boehringer home. Originally called “The Orphans Home of the Shepherd of the Lambs,” the organization began to grow and by 1871 it had found a new home in Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania, where the name was officially changed to Bethany Children's Home.