Before Baylor: A Brief Story of Waco University

By Brian Simmons, Archival Assistant and Digital Input Specialist

Waco University pamphlet
Pamphlets like this were written by Rufus C. Burleson to inform interested parties about developments at Waco University and appeal for support. Waco University collection #169, box 1, folder 6.

Baylor University’s Waco roots are tied to the somewhat short lived Waco University. Originally founded as an all-male high school in 1857, the institution eventually came under the control of the Waco Baptist Association, which gave it the name Waco Classical School. In the 1860s, amid internal administrative issues, school management decided to seek new leadership to take the school in a new direction. The trustees offered then current Baylor University President, Rufus C. Burleson, control of the institution. Burleson, who at the time was clashing with faculty in Independence, accepted the offer from the Waco Classical School. He resigned from Baylor in the spring of 1861 and moved to Waco, taking with him many Baylor professors and students.

Waco University catalogue, 1877-1878
Annual catalogs created by Waco University not only listed that year’s course offerings, but also described the guidelines and culture of the university. Waco University collection #169, box 1, folder 3.

 

With Burleson as President, the Waco Classical School was transformed into Waco University over the summer of 1861. The University officially opened as an all-male institution on September 2 of the same year. The venture was moderately successful, but the momentum of the Civil War took a toll on the development of the fledgling university. Although it remained open throughout the war, Waco University faced budget shortfalls and periods of low enrollment.

After the war, the University began to flourish with increased matriculation and an expanded curriculum. The creation of the female department in 1866 made Waco University among the first coeducational universities in the United States.  Although men and women attended the same university and were taught by the same professors, gender segregation was not uncommon.

Waco University diploma for Josephine Ann Corley, 1870
An example of Waco University’s gender sensitivity is found on Josephine Ann Corley’s 1870 diploma. At the time, women were awarded “Maid of Arts” degrees, whereas men were awarded “Bachelor of Arts” degrees. Waco University collection #169, box 4, folder 1.

As Waco University matured, it began to compete with Baylor for potential students. This complication was further compounded by the fact that two different Baptist organizations supported the universities. Both universities existed alongside each other for a number of years. The arrival of train service to Waco would be the beginning of the end for Baylor in Independence. Without a major source of transportation, Baylor began to decline. Later in 1885, the two Baptist organizations that supported the universities joined together and decided to support only one university. It was decided that the organization would consolidate both universities to form Baylor University at Waco. Waco University’s Board of Trustees held their final meetings in 1887 to transfer all assets to Baylor.

Former site of Waco University (now First Baptist Church of Waco)
The 500 block of South Fifth Street is the approximate area where some of the Waco University buildings were located. First Baptist Church of Waco now occupies this site.

Waco University ceased operations at the end of the spring 1886 term.  Baylor University at Waco was not much of a change for students of the defunct university. The same curriculum, faculty, facilities, and polices were retained for the first few years. That would soon end as Baylor gradually shifted away from what was established at Waco University. Baylor began to build new buildings to the south and altered the curriculum. After the completion of buildings on the new campus, the remaining Waco University structure became the Maggie Houston Hall dormitory before eventually being phased out. Waco University was Baylor’s entry to Waco, but it is more than just a footnote in Baylor’s history. Visit the Texas Collection to view the Waco University collection and see its digitized catalogs to explore this institution’s own rich history.

References:

Baker, Eugene W. To Light the Ways of Time: An Illustrated History of Baylor University, 1845-1986. Waco: Baylor University, 1987.

Bragg, Jefferson Davis. “Waco University.” The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 51, no. 3 (January 1948): 213-224.

Guemple, John Robert. “A History of Waco University.” Master’s thesis, Baylor University, 1964.

“Waco University.” Handbook of Waco and McLennan County, Texas. Ed. Dayton Kelley. Waco: Texian Press, 1972.

Baylor Quiz Time

by Amanda Norman, University Archivist

A "slime" (freshman) scrubs the Baylor seal in the foyer of Pat Neff Hall, 1951
Fortunately, freshmen aren’t imposed on anymore to use the toothbrush method to keep the Pat Neff Hall seal clean–and the seal is roped off to keep people from walking on it.

It’s back to school today—time for a quiz! These Baylor trivia questions are drawn from things I’ve learned through assisting patrons with reference questions. Test your knowledge of the green and gold—or learn more about Baylor’s past!

  1. When did Baylor have its first female yell leader?
  2. In the 1950s-1960s, AFROTC cadets practiced their rifle shooting in an indoor range in what building? a) Bill Daniel Student Center b) Rena Marrs McLean Gymnasium c) Penland Hall
  3. What does legend say is buried near the swing in Burleson Quadrangle?
  4. How many years elapsed between when Tidwell Bible Building was first proposed and when it was completed?
  5. True or False—A Baylor student designed the Baylor seal in the floor of the Pat Neff Hall foyer.
  6. How much money did George W. Truett raise to eliminate Baylor’s debt in his role as financial agent in the early 1890s?
  7. Sociology is a part of the College of Arts and Sciences now, but it hasn’t always been housed there. In what school did it reside in the 1920s?
  8. What subject did the first African-American professor at Baylor teach?
  9. How many classes celebrated their graduation at Baylor Stadium (now Floyd Casey Stadium)?
  10. Who coined Baylor’s motto, Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana?
Yell Leaders at Baylor (Floyd Casey) Stadium, circa 1970
The female yell leaders in this 1970s photo were not the first.
Vivienne Malone-Mayes in the classroom, undated
Vivienne Malone-Mayes in the classroom, undated

Answers

  1. Weta Timmons was elected a yell leader in 1923 and is heartily commended for her efforts in the Lariat. However, after her term and up to 1968, there were no female yell leaders. The decision to break that gender gap was much debated throughout the 1960s.
  2. a) Bill Daniel Student Center. From 1953 to about 1964, the AFROTC competitive shooting team carried rifles up four flights of stairs to the attic of the Student Union Building and practiced target shooting. Apparently you could hear the shots outside the building (through air vents) but not inside.
  3. An “Indian princess” from the Huaco Indian tribe. When Colonel Joseph Warren Speight owned the property, his daughters found turquoise beads beneath a tree where they were playing. Speight investigated and found the skeleton. According to a Huaco legend, a plague befell the tribe. The chief’s beloved daughter helped nurse the ill but eventually died herself, and the bones are hers. In the 1930s, a marker declaring the grave to be that of “an Indian Princess” was erected on the site but was later removed and then returned in 1988.
  4. Twenty-one years. The building was first conceived in 1933 but wasn’t completed till 1954. It was delayed due to fundraising challenges, including World War II and other building priorities like Baylor Stadium, Armstrong Browning Library, and the Student Union Building. Architectural problems also delayed the project—an overly ambitious initial design, leading to a new architect being engaged and a lawsuit. Check out BU Records: Tidwell Bible Building Campaign Committee at The Texas Collection
  5. True. Enrique Ramirez designed the seal for the building, which was completed in 1939. Ramirez was an art student who did various art and design projects for the university throughout his time at Baylor.
  6. Truett raised $100,000 in two years. Benajah Harvey (B.H.) Carroll, the president of the board of trustees, offered the job of financial agent to Truett, who accepted the position but suffered a bad case of the measles before he could start the job.  After completing the fundraising project, Truett enrolled at Baylor as a student in 1893, and, of course, went on to become a major figure in Texas Baptist history. In 1990, Baylor claimed his name for a future seminary, and in 1994, the first students began classes at George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University. Check out the George W. Truett papers at The Texas Collection. We also have many of the books he authored and audio recordings of his sermons.
  7. The School of Commerce and Business Administration, which was founded in 1923 (and now is known as the Hankamer School of Business). Political science and journalism are a few other departments that were housed in the new program but eventually were moved to the College of Arts and Sciences.
  8. Vivienne Malone-Mayes was hired as a mathematics professor at Baylor in 1966—only five years after she had been denied admittance to the school as a graduate student. She was among the first black women in the nation to earn a PhD in mathematics. Check out the Vivenne Malone-Mayes papers at The Texas Collection and her oral memoirs from the Institute for Oral History.
  9. Five. The classes of 1951-1955 celebrated commencement exercises at Baylor Stadium. In 1956, President Eisenhower came to Baylor and gave the commencement address. According to the Lariat, his advisors “much preferred that he speak in a completely enclosed building,” so the venue was moved that year to the (un-air conditioned and thus very warm) Heart O’ Texas Coliseum. Commencement was held there until 1988, when the Ferrell Center was constructed.
  10. Rufus Burleson. When he accepted the presidency of the university in 1851, he included an outline of institutional policies. Number eight on the list was, “The mottoes of Baylor University shall be, “Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana;” “Dulce et Decorum, pro patria Mori.” The Baylor seal still boasts the first motto, which translates to “For Church, For Texas.” The latter quote is attributed to the Roman poet Horace, and roughly translates to, “It is sweet and proper to die for your country.” It fell out of use as an official slogan—really, it’s not clear if it ever was adapted. Check out the Rufus C. Burleson papers at The Texas Collection.

You can read more about these stories and many others in the digitized Lariats, Round-Ups, and press releases, just a few of many Texas Collection items that can be found on the Baylor Digital Collections site. And if you want to investigate even further, drop me a line at The Texas Collection—we have archival records on many of these people and places.

The Tragedy of William Cowper Brann, Waco's Infamous Firebrand

By the later decades of the 1800s, Waco, Texas, had become the epitome of a western town. Violent duels were all too common on its dusty streets—Waco earned the nickname “Six Shooter Junction.” On the evening of April 1, 1898, another gunfight ensued in which both of the men involved died from fatal wounds. Why have we singled out this particular altercation (aside from its date, 115 years ago today)? Because one of the duelers was one of Waco’s most controversial figures, William Cowper Brann.

William Cowper Brann
William Cowper Brann in his Iconoclast office in Waco, undated

Brann gained significant clout as the editor of Brann’s Iconoclast, a journal he started in Waco in February 1895. Throughout his lifetime, Brann had striven to succeed as a writer. In the late 1890s, Brann discovered his niche in the central Texas region. The Iconoclast had an enormous circle of influence, with a readership of approximately 100,000 people across the nation. Such fame did not come without a price, however. Brann, who was openly critical of Baylor University, Baptists, Episcopalians, women, African Americans, and the British (to name a few), made a number of enemies. A sample of his writing:

“The Tyler Telegram humbly apologizes for having called that wide-lipped blather-skite, T. DeWitt Talmage, ‘a religious fakir.’ Next thing we know our Tyler contemporary will apologize for having inadvertently hazarded the statement that water is wet. …The Iconoclast will pay any man $10 who will demonstrate that T. DeWitt Talmage ever originated an idea, good, bad or indifferent…. The man who can find intellectual food in Talmage’s sermons could acquire a case of delirium tremens by drinking the froth out of a pop bottle.”—Brann on Talmage, a significant religious leader during the mid- to late-19th century.

Brann's Iconoclast, November 1897
Brann’s Iconoclast, November 1897. In this issue he describes one of the times he was attacked for his writings: “When we find a contumacious sinner we waste no time in theological controversy or moral suasion, but promptly round him up with a rope and bump his head, and we bump it hard.”

But as usual, there’s more to Brann’s story than meets the eye. Indeed, his life was truly tragic, from beginning to end. Brann was born the son of a Presbyterian minister on January 4, 1855, in Coles County, Illinois. After his mother passed away two years later, Brann was given over to the care of a neighboring couple. By the age of thirteen, Brann decided to head out west to find his fortune.

Brann married Carrie Martin of Illinois in 1877. They had three children, one of whom eventually committed suicide at the age of twelve. In addition to his family struggles, Brann could not find stable work in editing. His first attempt at starting a newspaper in Austin failed miserably. Not until he relocated to Waco did Brann find success.

"The Brazilian Girl and Baylor University," 1895
In 1895, President Rufus Burleson sought to defend the integrity of both his family and Baylor University by calling into question the character of the young Brazilian girl.

One of the most controversial issues Brann wrote about was the impregnation of a fourteen-year-old Brazilian girl. Baylor University President Rufus Burleson took Antonia Teixeira, an orphan brought to the US by a Baptist missionary, into his home to care for her. After it was revealed that the young girl was pregnant, Brann seized the story and used it to tarnish the reputation of Burleson and Baylor. Steen Morris, the brother of Burleson’s son-in-law, was accused of rape but ultimately acquitted. Burleson’s transition from the Baylor presidency to becoming president emeritus was in part due to the scandal.

Brann received much criticism for his assaults on Baylor University—he was even attacked. Newspapers from the time period (including the Iconoclast) report that Brann was kidnapped by a large mob of Baylor students and dragged through campus by a rope secured around his neck. On another occasion, Brann was jumped by three men— reportedly a Baylor trustee and two students—beaten, and left in the streets to die. Yet Brann was not swayed from his purpose.

William Cowper Brann funeral notice, 1898
This is the original funeral notice printed after Brann’s death. He died several hours after the gunfight and was eventually buried in Oakwood Cemetery, not far from The Texas Collection. Brann’s funeral service took place in his Waco residence which has since been torn down. He was 43 years old.

On April 1, 1898, Brann was approached from behind by Tom Davis, a disgruntled father of a Baylor student. Davis shot Brann three times. Amazingly, Brann had the wherewithal to turn around and fire all six of his bullets into Davis. Both men eventually died from the encounter, and a number of bystanders were also wounded.

William Cowper Brann's tombstone in Waco's Oakwood Cemetery
Brann was buried in Oakwood Cemetery on April 3, 1898. His unique tombstone represents the “lamp of truth” and has been the unfortunate subject of much vandalism over the years. It was stolen in 2009.

 

Some have admired Brann for his devotion to presenting what he believed was the truth, while others discounted him as a radical seeking to stir up the masses. The Texas Collection houses the William Cooper Brann collection and a sizable run of Brann’s Iconoclast, among other resources on and relating to him in our library and archives. I encourage you to make the trip to our reading room and decide for yourself!

By Thomas DeShong, Archival Assistant and Digital Input Specialist

Research Ready: October 2012

Each month, we post a processing update to notify our readers about the latest collections that have finding aids online and are primed for research. Here’s the scoop for October:

Mary and Oscar Du Congé at work
Mary and Oscar Du Congé at work. Their papers document their work, family, and social life in Waco, Texas.
Bolt Family Homestead and Legion Valley massacre scrapbook photo, 1985
Dr. Johnie Reeves at a vista overlooking the Colorado River and the Comanches’ route after the Legion Valley massacre of 1868. Legion Valley is on the other side of the Cedar Mountains in the distance.
  • William Carley Family Collection, 1834-1936, undated: Documenting the Carley family from 1836-1936, this collection includes records about William Carley’s experiences moving to Texas in 1836, his service in the United States-Mexican War, and other events in the life of the family.
  • Oscar “Doc” Norbert and Mary “Kitty” Jacques Du Congé Papers, 1908-1987: This archives consists of manuscripts pertaining to the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Du Congé. Oscar  was the first African-American Mayor of Waco, and his wife, Mary, was a schoolteacher and secretary who was a leader in the community, a socialite, and a volunteer member of many Catholic religious organizations.
  • Wilhelm Esch Collection, 1870-1943: This collection contains certificates of  appointment and of honorable discharge for German-American soldier Wilhelm Esch, photographs and books concerning military life in World War I, items related to the Order of the Elks and miscellaneous WWII items including ration books.
  • Guyler (Lydia Ann English) [Mrs. William] Papers, 1860:  A correspondence between
    Mrs. Lydia A. Guyler (Mrs. William) from General Sam Houston, in response to Mrs. Guyler’s request for Houston to name her daughter.
  • Adolf Hitler Papers, 1938-1943: Our Hitler Papers contain two documents signed by the Chancellor of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler.
  • Benjamin Judson Johnson Papers, 1942-1960: These papers include correspondence, legal documents, literary productions, and artifacts relating to Benjamin’s experience in the U.S. Naval Air Force during World War II.
  • Jones Family Papers, 1857-1867, 1920, undated: The Jones family records consist of correspondence, legal, and financial documents, including fourteen Civil War letters from family members in the 10th Texas Infantry.
  • Luper Family Papers, 1909-1990: The Luper Family Papers are comprised of correspondence, literary productions, and other materials pertaining to a Baptist missionary family and their experiences during the mid-1900s in Portugal, Brazil, and central Texas. (This finding aid is updated with additional materials that came to The Texas Collection after we initially announced the finding aid in June 2012.)
  • Harry Hall Womack, Jr. Papers, 1940-1948: Womack’s papers consist of correspondence and literary productions relating to his experiences in the 1940s. These include medical school, a tour as a doctor in the Army during World War II, and the beginnings of his marriage and family.

Looking Back at Baylor: Simple Pleasures in Independence

Drawing, Baylor Female College, undated
The columns of the Baylor Female College building are now the iconic remains of the original Baylor campus. They are an important part of the Line Camp experience.

This piece by former Texas Collection director Kent Keeth originally was published in The Baylor Line in November 1978, then was reprinted in Looking Back at Baylor (1985), a collection of Keeth and Harry Marsh’s historical columns for the Line. Blogging about Texas will periodically feature selections from Looking Back at Baylor, with hopes of sharing Keeth’s work with a new audience.

This piece, “Simple Pleasures in Independence,” was selected for our first Looking Back entry because starting this week (and through most of July), Baylor Line Camps will be visiting the site of Baylor’s original campus in Independence. While the social life of the class of 2016 will be quite different from what Margaret Hall Hicks describes below, the community spirit of the Baylor family remains constant.

Margaret Hall Hicks, undated
Margaret Hall Hicks, undated. The Texas Collection houses the Hicks-Hall-Harman Family papers, which includes the complete "Memories of Ancestors" document, a fascinating look at life in Texas in the late 1800s. The photos in this blog come from our photo archives. Researchers are welcome to come and use these records.

In 1871, sixteen-year-old Margaret Hall, who five years earlier had attended Baylor’s preparatory department, returned to the Independence campus as a student at Baylor Female College. She entered enthusiastically into the life of the college, and while she appreciated the school’s scholastic offerings, she also found time to participate in the various social occasions which its calendar afforded.

Many years later, when her own children were grown, Margaret Hall Hicks prepared a personal memoir of some of the events and impressions of her early life. Titled “Memories of Ancestors,” Mrs. Hicks’ memoir vividly recalls her days at Baylor. An excerpt concerning her attendance in 1866 appeared in the Baylor Line of May-June 1967. The following passage, drawn from the period of her later enrollment, relates some of the “simple pleasures” by which Baylor students of the 1870s diverted themselves from their studies.

Baylor Female College, 1884
A different angle on the main building of the Baylor Female College. This 1884 photo was taken just two years before Baylor University left Independence to join with Waco University, and the Female College moved to Belton, ultimately becoming the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

“Along with our studies we had a most delightful social life. Baylor University, a school for boys, was about a half-mile or less from Baylor College, and you know that twenty or thirty boys and that many girls could not fail to find some means of communication. We were allowed to receive the boys in the large parlors of the dormitory once a month on Friday night. We were sometimes allowed to visit our girl friends in the town, and of course this meant there would be a boy invited for each girl, to come in for a good time together in the evening. We all attended the same church and many were the notes and shy glances passed between the boys and girls, although they were required to sit on opposite sides of the church with a high partition between them.

Henry McArdle drawing of the male campus of Baylor University, 1870s
The ride up to the men's campus. Hicks recalls the separate men's and women's campuses, an arrangement that President Rufus Burleson insisted upon before he left for Waco University. Left to right are: Tryon Hall, Houston Hall, Graves Hall, Burleson Domicile, dormitory annex, and Creath Hall.

An annual picnic on San Jacinto Day was a social event anticipated and prepared for months before the time. Each girl had made a date weeks before with some boy, generally her sweetheart, for the whole day together. If the boy was financially able, he hired a horse and buggy to take his lady love, and these were the envy of the other girls, who had to join in with others in hiring a hack or wagon and go in crowds.Another occasion that still lingers in my memory was the Christmas holidays. The last week before Christmas was a time of merry-making. Mr. Clark always prepared for a very elaborate Christmas concert. The large auditorium was gaily festooned with cedar and holly of which there was an abundance in the nearby woods.

Independence, Texas, undated
The men's campus sat on Windmill Hill, giving students a good view of the town. When the railroad bypassed Independence, the town's size began to decrease.

The boys and girls, under the supervision of one of the teachers, were delegated to borrow wagons from some of their country friends and go out in the woods to get these, and such jolly rides as they were, and what a thrill we did get out of them! No auto joy rides of the present ever gave young folks more pleasure. Then the festoons were to be made and the boys were permitted to come over and help in trimming these, and what a good chance for the innocent love making which all boys and girls so much enjoy and which, conducted in the right way and under the right environment, is natural and beneficial for all young people. These concerts were given Thursday before the Christmas holidays. Succeeding them on the following night the boys of Baylor University gave an annual Christmas party at the University building, and this was the climax of all the Christmas frolic. At these parties ‘soft eyes looked love to eyes which spake again, and all went merry as marriage bells.’

We did not have, nor did we care for, elaborate refreshments. At these parties given at the schools we only had fruits, nuts and candies which the boys paid for themselves. There was no drinking at these parties of the olden times. The natural exuberance of healthy youth was the only stimulant we needed.”

Updated July 13, 2012: Baylor Photography was kind enough to provide a current photo of the Baylor Female Building and Line Camp.

Baylor Line Camp 2009
The class of 2013 approaches the columns of the Baylor Female Building, jerseys over their shoulders, and prepares to be initiated into the Baylor Line. Credit: Baylor Marketing and Communications/ Matthew Minard.

A bit of postal history: advertising covers from the Burleson Collection

The internet is constantly delighting me with Interesting Things I Didn’t Know.  The other day a colleague handed me a stack of 19th century envelopes.  Now, I had never considered a world without “store bought” envelopes, but it turns out that, prior to the 1840s, that was exactly the way the world worked:  you had to cut and fold your own. It wasn’t until 1840 that George Wilson patented a process of tiling envelope patterns on a large sheet of paper, and not until 1845 that Edwin Hill and Warren De la Rue obtained a patent for a steam-driven machine that not only cut out the envelope shapes but creased and folded them. Hill and De la Rue displayed their machine at the Crystal Palace in the Great Exhibition of 1851–along with the Koh-i-Noor, the world’s largest known diamond at the time, Samuel Colt’s prototype for the Colt Navy revolver, and one of the world’s earliest voting machines.  Who would have thought that making envelopes could be so interesting as to merit a spot in the Crystal Palace?

But as I learned, the fascinating history of envelopes, or covers, as they are known, continues.  During the Civil War paper was extremely scarce, so hand-made envelopes were created out of wrapping paper, tax receipts, wallpaper, flyleaves torn from books, maps, music sheets, or other available materials. These handmade envelopes are referred to as “adversity covers” and they are considered quite collectible. People at this time also used envelopes for propaganda purposes, printing or drawing cartoons, emblems, pictures and messages that expressed their political sentiments. Collectors call these bits of postal history “patriotic covers.”

In the latter part of the 1800s, businesses began to create printed envelopes. These advertising covers could be printed with anything from a simple corner card (picture and return address) to elaborate decorations and ad copy covering much of the envelope.  Early advertising covers eventually led to both the cacheted first day cover and modern junk mail.

At The Texas Collection, we have a group of 19th century advertising covers from the Rufus Burleson Collection which you can see displayed on our flickr page. These envelopes are from all over Texas and come from a range of businesses and colleges. They’re stamped on the front with a postmark from the sending post office and on the back with the receiving post office. We hope you’ll enjoy this glimpse into life in the late 1800s.