The Edna Gladney Story Begins

By Sherrie S. McLeRoy
Copyright 2010
Share |

In 2011, The Gladney Center for Adoption will celebrate several landmark events in its history. The first and foremost is the birth of the woman for whom the organization is named and who devoted most of her life to it and to America's adopted children.

Edna B. GladneyEdna Browning Kahly Gladney began her life and her career far from the windswept plains of Fort Worth, Texas. She was born on her grandparents' farm in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on January 22, 1886, the first child of a second generation American whose family came to this country from Wales in 1828. Her mother, Minnie Nell Jones, was barely seventeen when she gave birth . . . and unwed.

Edna's birth father-his name unknown even to close family members-was British, probably a member of that country's Navy or of a civilian maritime company. Since Minnie christened her daughter Edna Browning, it's possible that was his name also, but it is more likely that she chose "Browning" to honor a cousin who was a renowned Unitarian minister and scholar of the English poet, Robert Browning. Perhaps Minnie and Edna's father had also shared a love for Browning's poetry. No one knows.

Not until 1893 did Minnie Jones marry Maurice Kahly, the man long believed to have been Edna's actual father. A one-time jeweler, Kahly was working in a men's hat and fur goods shop when he met Minnie. The couple had only one child together, Dorothy, who was born in 1895. Curiously, Edna seldom used the name "Kahly" after her marriage, signing herself Edna B. Gladney.

The "Blossoms in the Dust" Luncheon, Style Show, and Bazaar on April 5, 2011, which has been presented by the Fort Worth Gladney Family Association for forty-six years, will commemorate the 125th anniversary of Edna Gladney's birth with the theme, "You'll Be In Our Heart."

Gladney mom and Texas historian Sherrie S. McLeRoy has published several sketches about Edna Gladney's life and work and is now writing a full-length biography of her. Sherrie invites you to send photos, stories, and memories of Mrs. Gladney to her at

close window