Who were Baylor’s founding fathers?
It may come as some surprise to many Bears to learn that Judge Baylor wasn’t Baylor’s only founding father.
Most Bears know Judge R.E.B. Baylor — a lawyer and legislator in Kentucky and Alabama who met Christ at age 46, became a Baptist minister and moved to what was then the Republic of Texas to spread the Gospel. He may have been the first to donate funds to get the school started, but he never wanted the school to be named for him. To Judge Baylor, the establishment of this Baptist university was primarily thanks to the school’s other two founders.
One of those was Rev. James Huckins, an 1832 Brown University graduate who ministered across the Northeast until 1840, when he was appointed by the American Baptist Home Mission Society as its first missionary to Texas, sent to plant churches throughout the region.
The other, Rev. William M. Tryon, was born in New York City and pastored in Georgia and Alabama before he followed Huckins to Texas as the American Baptist Home Mission Society’s second missionary to Texas. Just a few months later, he became the first to suggest creating a Baptist university in Texas.
In 1841, the Texas Baptist Education Society was created, with Judge Baylor as president, Tryon as vice-president, and Huckins on the board of managers; one of its aims was to promote religious education. Invasions by Mexican troops kept the Society from getting started in earnest until 1844, when it began to move ahead on establishing “a Baptist University in Texas … that would be susceptible of enlargement and development to meet the needs of all the ages to come.”
Huckins tirelessly toured the country to raise the funds needed to help build a university campus. Tryon wrote the proposal to create a Texas Baptist university, and Judge Baylor presented it to the Texas Congress. On Feb. 1, 1845, Republic of Texas President Anson Jones signed the university’s charter, and the rest is history.
Baylor, Huckins and Tryon each served on the university’s initial Board of Trustees, with Tryon as the Board’s first president. Judge Baylor also taught law at the university, while Huckins continued to help with fundraising off and on well into the 1850s.
Today, all three are memorialized on Baylor’s campus. You’re probably familiar with the Judge Baylor statue, but you might not have noticed the pillars that flank it on either side. One honors Huckins; the other, Tryon. Each year on Founders Day (Feb. 1), the Baylor family celebrates the extraordinary work done by these three leaders.
Sic ’em, Judge Baylor, Rev. Huckins and Rev. Tryon!
You might also like:
* Who was Judge Baylor? (May 2018)
* James Huckins: Missionary, church planter, and Baylor Founding Father (April 2017)
* William Tryon: Missionary, pastor, and Baylor Founding Father (Aug. 2018)