“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Independence in Washington County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)

Baylor University

On Windmill Hill

Baylor University Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, January 8, 2021
1. Baylor University Marker

In 1845, Baptist leaders chose to locate the newly chartered Baylor University in Independence, Texas, "because of its centrality, accessibility, health, and beautiful scenery." The University opened on Academy Hill, west of town. As funds permitted, the University began construction in the late 1840s here on Windmill Hill—the plan was to make this location the permanent bome of Baylor University.

When Rufus Burleson assumed the Baylor presidency in 1851, he separated the sexes, thereby altering the campus plan. Boys were moved to Windmill Hill to what became the Male Campus and primary facilities - the girls remained on Academy Hill.

The Windmill Hill location offered a commanding view of the surrounding countryside including a clear view of the columns of Baylor Female College on Academy Hill. To go from one campus to another, students crossed Independence Creek, and walked past several blacksmiths' shops, a wagon maker's shop, and numerous residences including that of artist and Baylor art instructor Henry A. McArdle. McArdle was one of a few instructors who taught both male and female students.

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1886, both campuses moved to other locations where they are thriving institutions. The Male Campus moved to Waco, to merge with Waco University, now Baylor University, and Baylor Female College moved to Belton where it became the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

"The River Jordan"
Independence Creek was called "the River Jordan" after Baylor President Rufus Burleson separated the sexes in 1851 and moved the Male Campus to Windmill Hill. It was said that male students, when crossing the creek to reach the Female College on Academy Hill, were crossing "the River Jordan" to reach "the Promised Land." No doubt, "the River Jordan" was often crossed for both official and unofficial activities.

Welcome to Independence, Texas, Founded in 1835, this town is rich in history. Walk the one-mile loop and drive a short distance to learn about early Texas history, Sam Houston, pioneer homes, historic churches, old plantations, and more!

Baylor University (Male) Campus on Windmill Hill, 1882 drawing by Henry A. McArdle. McArdle's epic battle paintings of the Alamo and San Jacinto hang in the Senate Chamber of the Texas State Capitol.

Looking across the meadow to Academy Hill (Female College) and "the River Jordan" from Windmill Hill (Male Campus).

Erected by
Baylor University Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, January 8, 2021
2. Baylor University Marker
Baylor University.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Education. A significant historical year for this entry is 1845.
Location. 30° 18.929′ N, 96° 20.788′ W. Marker is in Independence, Texas, in Washington County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Farm to Market Road 50 and Hood Hotel Road. The marker is located at the southwestern corner of the Baylor Park on Windmill Hill. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Brenham TX 77833, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Baylor University on Windmill Hill (here, next to this marker); Tryon Hall (within shouting distance of this marker); College Well: of Windmill Hill (within shouting distance of this marker); Baylor University for Boys (within shouting distance of this marker); General Sam Houston (within shouting distance of this marker); Bell Tower (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Robert Emmett Bledsoe Baylor (about 400 feet away); Grave Site of R.E.B. Baylor (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Independence.
Also see . . .  Baylor University.
Baylor University owes its founding to Robert E. B. Baylor, James Huckins, and William Milton Tryon, who in 1841 organized an education society in the Texas Union Baptist Association
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with the purpose of establishing a Baptist university in Texas. Baylor was chartered by the Republic of Texas on February 1, 1845, and was opened in 1846 at Independence. Professor Henry F. Gillette directed the school until the arrival of its first president, Henry Lee Graves, who received notice of his election on January 12, 1846, arrived in Independence in December 1846, and entered upon his duties on February 4, 1847.  Source: The Handbook of Texas
(Submitted on February 10, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 11, 2021. It was originally submitted on February 10, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas. This page has been viewed 149 times since then and 32 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on February 10, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.

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Dec. 4, 2023