“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's First Years

— Baylor University —

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

On May 18th, 1846, Professor Henry F. Gillett opened Baylor University in temporary quarters on Academy Hill, the former campus of Independence Academy. In the two-story frame Academy Building, Gillett, a devout Episcopalian, conducted every class for the 24 students during that first term. On February 4th, 1847, President Henry L. Graves arrived at the Academy Hill campus. Under his leadership, all preparatory and collegiate classes were open to women and men. In 1850, the Texas State Legislature approved an amendment to the Charter for trustee vacancies to be appointed by the newly organized Baptist State Convention of Texas.

In September 1849, President Graves initiated construction on a stone classroom building at Windmill Hill. Named in his honor, Graves Hall was opened the next year. The trustees began meeting in the new "College Building," and chemistry and physics experiments were presented there. By autumn of 1850, daily classes were conducted in the new facilities.

In June 1851, President Graves resigned because of failing health. The trustees elected the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Houston, Rufus
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C. Burleson. He put the male department in the new Windmill Hill facilities and the female department in the Academy Hill facilities.

During the decade of the 1850's, Baylor University enjoyed growth in enrollment, graduations, curriculum, and published scholarship. The male department enrollment averaged about one hundred per year from 1851 to 1855; it hit a peak of 235 in 1860. The first graduate from Baylor University was Stephen D. Rowe, earning the Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1854.

Professional programs were planned and developed. The law department, after brief appearances in 1849 and 1855, became a complete academic program in 1857. First considered by the trustees in 1851, the theology school was started in 1859.

Independence Baptist Church met in Graves Hall from 1850 to 1857, when the Church erected an adobe meetinghouse at the location of its current stone building. On November 19th, 1854, Sam Houston publicly professed his belief in Christ on Windmill Hill and was baptized by pastor Rufus C. Burleson in Little Rocky Creek, located about a mile south of the male campus. He became a member of Independence Baptist Church in 1854. As United States Senator until 1859 and as Texas Governor from 1859 to 1861, Houston frequently addressed commencements, celebrated holidays with students, and was a guest at several Board meetings.

A fierce
The Baylor University's First Years Marker is the second marker from the left of the four markers image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, January 8, 2021
2. The Baylor University's First Years Marker is the second marker from the left of the four markers
rivalry developed between President Burleson's male department on Windmill Hill and the female department on Academy Hill, under the leadership of Principal Horace Clark since 1851. With Sam Houston's endorsement in 1854, the trustees unilaterally decided to raise funds for building a stunning three-story academic building for the female campus. Finished two years later, Female Building faced east toward the town and Windmill Hill. This front comprised four massive columns towering two stories above a one-story portico, upon which the columns were placed. Surviving today, these columns are the famous ruins around which is developed Old Baylor Park, a facility operated by the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

Culminating years of differences with the trustees, President Burleson and four of the male department faculty resigned in June 1861. Departing Windmill Hill, they were hired as the faculty of newly created Waco University at Waco, Texas, where Burleson was named as president.
Erected by Baylor University.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EducationParks & Recreational Areas. A significant historical date for this entry is February 4, 1847.
Location. 30° 18.987′ N, 96° 20.715′ W. Marker is in Independence, Texas, in Washington County. Marker can be reached
The markers are located in the Baylor Park Pavilion at Windmill Hill. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, January 8, 2021
3. The markers are located in the Baylor Park Pavilion at Windmill Hill.
from the intersection of Farm to Market Road 50 and Hood Hotel Road. The marker is located at the northeast section of the Baylor Park at 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. Founding of Baylor University (here, next to this marker); In Recognition of the Land Donations to Baylor (here, next to this marker); Baylor University Campus on Windmill Hill: (here, next to this marker); Windmill Hill (here, next to this marker); Baylor's Survival— (here, next to this marker); A College Town (a few steps from this marker); Houston Hall (within shouting distance of this marker); Home Built in 1845 by General Jerome B. Robertson (within shouting distance of this marker). 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 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.  Source: The Handbook of Texas
(Submitted on February 12, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 13, 2021. It was originally submitted on February 12, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas. This page has been viewed 116 times since then and 19 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on February 12, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.

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Oct. 4, 2023