The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 49, July 1945 - April, 1946 Page: 45
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Forerunners of Baylor
evolved into the Texas Baptist Educational Society. Before
this group, he urged that the church should have a university,
and filled his fellow-workers with enthusiasm for such a project.
In 1847 he died, a victim of yellow fever, as was his friend and
fellow-Baptist, Isaac Van Zandt, who was then in the midst of
a campaign for the governorship. Tyron's decade in the ministry
spanned the life of the Texas Republic; although only the last
half of his ministry was spent in Texas, his works have endured
through the ensuing century.
The balance wheel of these early Baptist organizations was
a New Hampshire orphan, educated at Brown University and
sent out to Texas by Mercer of Georgia. Rev. James Huckins,
who preceded Tryon to Texas, reached Galveston, then a town
of three thousand, in January, 1840. During his sojourn there,
he received into his newly organized church, among others, the
well-known Gail Borden and Mrs. Borden, a niece of Georgia's
Jesse Mercer. Huckins baptized this distinguished couple in the
Gulf of Mexico in a colorful and dramatic service on a Sunday
evening at sunset. Lacking the emotional appeal of his con-
temporaries, Huckins compensated with his business ability. In
his commission as missionary to Texas, his work was apparently
not restricted even though his pay was limited. He supplemented
his earnings by real estate ventures in Galveston that netted
him $40,000. Because of his business acumen, he was selected
as the fiscal agent of the new university, and it is because of
this work in and out of Texas that Baylor University honored
his memory on its hundredth anniversary.
Up to this time the spark of life in the Baptist organizations
had been nurtured by its clergy. The laymen were indifferent,
preoccupied with other matters, or too busily engaged in doc-
trinal argument to afford lay-leadership. The one conspicuous
exception was Robert Emmett Bledsoe Baylor, a star of the first
magnitude, who gave impetus to all Baptist movements in Texas
and who for years was to them the living embodiment of the law
and the gospel. The man who played this dual r61e was born
in Kentucky, May 10, 1793, of a distinguished family. His grand-
father was in Washington's army, and an uncle served as a
colonel on Washington's staff in the American Revolution. His
maternal great-grandfather Bledsoe had been imprisoned in Vir-
ginia for preaching Baptist doctrine. Young Baylor was grad-
uated from an academy in Paris, Kentucky, and soon acquired
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 49, July 1945 - April, 1946, periodical, 1946; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146056/m1/54/: accessed December 12, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.