session held in AYaco, October 25th, 1802, and was made one
of the three Vice-Presidents.
Troui this time on. until 1885, he disappears from the
recoi'il >>i' ilic (ā¢i>nvention, except to receive its convlesies as a
visitor, liiiving become a constituent of the General
AVo have thus far traced Dr. Burleson's record from his
birtli, ill ls2;;, ThrMiigli liis ln.yliood and manhood, to 1861.
when he tendered his resignation as President of Baylor Uni-
versity at Independence. AVe then dropjX'd back and traced
liis connection \Anth the Baptist State C(.nv(Mition fnun it<
oi-oiinization, in 1848, until 1861.
Dr. Eufus C. Buelesox. 301
We have striven to avoid becoming tedions in reciting tlie
events of his interesting career, but careful to omit nothing
important in the record, for the obvious reason that it was
during this period in his life tliat he was making history.
Dr. Burleson performed a much greater amount of work
for the University at AVaco than for the University at Inde-
pendence; so, also, he did more work in the General Associa-
tion than in the State Convention, but made less history.
To illustrate what is meant we will state : The proceed-
ings of the tirst session of the Baptist State Convention, in
1848, is a little pamphlet containing twelve pages. The pro-
ceedings of the fiftieth session, held in Waco, in 1898, is a
book of 155 pages. The last lacks only one page of being
thirteen times as large as the first. Still not a precedent was
established in the fiftieth session, while the proceedings of the
first session were all precedent^ā¢.
Again. The first catalogue issued of Baylor University,
at Independence, in 1852, was a little pamphlet of fourteen
small pages. The catalogue issued of the same school, at
Waco, in 1898, is an elegant book of 103 pages; yet the first
little catalogue required greater mental and mechanical efforc
than the last. For this reason we are not impressed that from
this time on it is important to make the record so voluminou;.
In addition to the reason expressed we are led to this
conclusion by the follo^\dng considerations :
First. The events of the closing years of Dr. Burleson's
life are well known. They are too essentially a part of the
history of Texas to be ignored or overlooked.
Second. To adhere to the plan heretofore pursueci
would make this record more voluminous than is necessary or
The curtain on the first era of Dr. Burleson's life in
Texas is dropped, and the- scene shifted to Waco.
We shall not attempt to step in Dr. Burleson's footprints
from Waco in the exact order in which they were made, but
will attend him in a succession as follows:
First. Give a condensed summary of the progress of
education in Texas, and Dr. Burleson's efforts to establish a
system of public schools. The importance and value of this
302 The Life axd AYeitings of
service will be something of a surprise to those who have not
studied his life carefully.
Second. His connection with the Baptist General Asso-
ciation of Texas will be traced from the organization of this
body, in 1868, to its consolidation with the Baptist State Con-
vention in 1885, when the consolidated body became the
Baptist General Convention of Texas.
Third. His connection with the Baptist General Conyen-
tion of Texas from 1885 to 1901..
Fourth. His connection with Waco University from
1861 to the consolidation of Waco and Baylor Universities in
1885, when the consolidated school became Baylor University.
Sixth. His connection with Baylor University from
1885 to 1901.
Thus dividing his public services, divides his life also
in exact halves in respect to years. Having been bom in
1823, he was just thirty-seven years old when he resigned the
presidency of Baylor University at Independence in 1861.
From 1861 to 1898 is thirty-seven years, and at this time he
was made president emeritus of Baylor University by the
Board of Trustees, which marks the date of his retirement
from active public life.
Dr. Eufus C. Burleson. 303
Education in Texas Under Spanish Dominion and Mexi-
can Kule ā ^Population ā Society ā Missions ā Eevolu-
TiON IN Mexico ā The Empire ā ^Eepublic ā Constitu-
tion OF 1824 ā ^Provisions for Education Under the
Federal Constitution ā Constitution of Coahuila and
Texas ā Provisions for Public Schools in the State
Constitution ā The Eirst American School ā ^Report
OF Almonte ā Efforts of the Colonists Toward Edu-
cation ā The First Female Academy in Texas ā Inde-
pendence Academy ā Baylor University ā Descrip-
tion OF A Mexican School in 1825 ā Character of the
American Colonist ā Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa
Anna ā ^Revolt of the American Colonists.
IST ORDER to present more clearly the splendid service
performed by Dr. Burleson in behalf of public edu-
cation in Texas, it has been found to be necessary to
take more than a cursory view of this interesting subject. He
vitalized constitutional provisions that had remained dormant
and inoperative for years and invested it with an interest not
It is assumed that the only educational instruction offered
in Texas when a separate province of Spain, at the beginning
of the last century, was of a parochial character, and that it
was provided by Roman Catholic priests. The only learning
disseminated by them at the various missions and the few mili-
tary establishments was of a religious nature, and intended to
propagate the doctrines of the Catholic Church. These
'304 Tirr: Ltfk a.vd AVritixgs of
priests were geiierallv men of fair classical education, as were
also many of the officers of the regular service.
They no doubt exerted some influence in guiding and
moderating- the fierce temper of frontier life, and in setting a
wholesome example, which produced imitative effects upon a
rude population. In 1806 the civilized inhabitants of Texas
numbered 7,000, and the country was in a more prosperous
condition than it had ever been before.
Many new settlers came into the country about the close
of the year, and brought vnth. them some wealth. This move-
ment was influenced, no doubt, by the recent "Louisiana Pur-
chase," under the Jefferson administration.
San Antonio was then the principal town in Texas, and
was then, as now, in a flourishing state. The buildings, though
generally of mud, were numerous, and occupied an extensive
area. The population was about 2,000, only a few of whom
were Americans. From a Spanish standpoint, it Avas a pleas-
ant place of residence on account of the society. It was a
garrisoned town and was the capital of the province. The sev-
eral missions in the ^ncinity added greatly to the impor-
tance of the place, socially as well as commercially. As these
were the homes of the missionaries, who were engaged in con-
verting and educating the Indians, they may Avith propriety
be designated as the first educational institutions established
in Texas. The least conspicuous of these mission schools, but
destined to become of great historical importance, Avas the
N'acogdoches, founded in 1778, became also an important
and historic town, and promised, until the great oil discovery
at Beaumont, to hold its position as the commercial center of
East Texas. In 1806, Nacogdoches contained about 500
inhabitants, among Avhom, as at San Antonio, there Avere very
The revolutionary forces, Avhich threatened invasion, dis-
quieted the people, and the hostility of Indians made fugitives
of large numbers, until Texas Ava< abiinst vc^stored to a state
This condition of affairs continued until Stejilicn T. Aus-
tin and others executed their contracts by settling a large
Dr. Eufus C. Bukleson. 305
number of American families in the country. The contracts
under which these families were introduced were very liberal.
Austin's success is a matter of history, as are also his efforts in
behalf of the colonists.
Prior to this time the revolution in Mexico, which had
for some time been sustained, was accomplished. Iturbide
became Emperor and administered for two years, when he
abdicated in obedience to the will of the people. The Federal
Constitution of January 31st, 1824, was adopted by the Repub-
lic of Mexico. The first Congress passed a decree May 7th,
1824, known as the constitutional act, uniting Texas with
Coahuila as one State, by reason of the small population. The
first Congress of this new State was duly installed August
15th, 1824, at Saltillo, and entered upon the discharge of its
legislative duties. Congress formulated a constitution March
11th, 1827. It provided that the Congress was to be com-
posed of twelve Deputies, of which Texas was entitled to two.
The Federal Constitutoin provided : "In all the towns
of the State a suitable number of primary schools shall be
established, wherein shall be taught reading, writing and arith-
metic, the catechism of the Christian religion, a brief and
simple explanation of the Constitution of the State, and
Republic, the rights and duties of man in society, and what-
ever else may conduce to the better education of the youth;
that the seminaries most required for affording the means of
instruction in the sciences and arts useful to the State; and
wherein the Constitution shall be fully explained, shall be
established in suitable places, and in proportion as circum-
stances go or may permit. The method of teaching shall be
uniform throughout the State; and with a view also to indicate
the same. Congress shall form a general plan of education, and
regulate by means of statute and laws all that pertains to this
most important subject."
"Thus early, and in this manner, was provision made by
organic law looking to the adoption of a plan of general public
education, or common schools."
As usual with new governments, the question of promot-
ing the settlement of Mexico from the United States attracted
early attention, and in a few months after the adoption of the
30G The Life axd Weitixgs of
Constitution instructions to the Land Commissioner as to new
town sites required, among other things, that a suitable block
of ground be provided for school and other buildings for public
The first mention of an American school in Texas is in
a document in the Bexar County record, dated July 5th, 1828,
referring to the McClure School. This was under Mexican
rule, and the school was probably an institution started for
the benefit of the growing Anglo-Saxon colonists. About
this time there existed a Spanish public school on the east line
of the present military plaza. (J. J. L.)
The State Legislature took the action in favor of estab-
lishing a sj^stem of public education in Decree !N"o. 92, adopted
May 11th, 1829, which made provision for a scliool of mutual
instniction on the "Lancastran plan," at the capital of each
department, for the free instruction of a limited number of
poor children, and for the compulsory education of the chil-
dren of the parents not able to pay tuition. It provided that
the teachers should instruct the children in the rudiments
only, the dogmas of the Eoman Catholic Church, and the
American catechism of arts and sciences. It fixed the salary
of the teacher at $800 per annum, and provided for the gen-
eral expenses of the school by creating a fund in the said capi-
tals, to be supplemented when necessary by loans from the
municipality, or by loans from the State rents, subject to be
restored to the State agents. Parents who were able were
required to pay fourteen dollars per annum for each child
while learning the "first rudiments" till they commenced to
write, and eighteen dollars for the rest of their attendance.
Each student educated in the establishment was required, on
leaving, to pay ten dollars "gratitude money" for rewarding
the teacher at the end of the teacher's contract.
In April following the Legislature passed another law,
establishing six temporary schools on a like plan, as provided
for imder Decree 92, with some modifications, which were
specified, reducing the pay of teachers to five hundred dollars
each per annum, and gratitude money to six dollars per pupil.
Provision was made for the support of these public schools by
grants of four leagues of land to the capital of each depart-
Dr. Rufus C. Burleson. 307
ment. San Antonio was the capital of the Department of
Bexar. By a decree of January 31st, 1831, Bexar was
divided, and a new department created, with its capital at
ISTacogdoches, and a special grant of four leagues of land was
allotted to the new municipality for educational pui-poses.
But these laudable efforts of the Government proved to be
practically ineffective. They were not satisfactory, and the
people, especially the Americans, did not second the views of
the Legislature, largely because of the preference allowed
Spanish over English speaking children. At a convention
held at San Felipe, in 1832, the disaffection on the subject
led to the appointment of a committee to petition the State
Government for a donation of land for the purpose of creating
a fund for the future establishment of primary schools, but
there is no evidence that it was presented, although provision
was made, of a limited character, to produce school funds
under general decree of April, 1833, whereby Juntas were also
created, charged to take special care that the funds intended
for the schools be used for no other purpose, and that they be
not separated therefrom for any cause whatever.
These Juntas were further required to provide schools
and also teachers, and to see that the teachers "do not render
useless by their example the lessons it is their duty to give
on morality and good breeding."
So far nothing of value was accomplished by the govern-
ment in its efforts to establish a system of public education,
and as was officially reported by a commission in 1834, there
were then only three private schools in operation in the prov-
ince ; one on the Brazos river, one on Eed river and the other
in San Antonio, where the teacher got $25.00 for his ser-
vices. (Report of Almonte).
In 1844 the city of San Antonio took action in obedience
to the stipulations in its charter to encourage the opening of a
public school by recommending that the old court house be so
repaired as to serve for both court and school purposes, and
certain lots were appropriated for the purpose, but for some
reason the arrangement was not consummated until August,
Those Texas settlements that would justify it, established
private schools for the instruction of their children. In cases
308 The Life and Wkitixgs of
where parents could afford it, their children were sent to the
United States to be educated, Mrs. M. Looscaus says, "The
need of schools among the early colonists was pre-eminent in
their minds, and many a good scholar who came to Texas with
no intention of teaching was pressed into service by the im-
portunities of his neighbors. A school house erected in a
neighborhood was made large enough to accommodate not
only all the children within riding distance, but many others
from less favored, or less thickly settled sections, were re-
ceived into families, often without thought of receiving, or
even accepting payment for board, and were taken care of by
the good women as if their ovm.
In the coast country the names of Willbarger, Henry
Smith, (afterward provisional governor), Phineas Smith,
Thomas J. Pilgrim, ISToonan, Cloud and Copeland are still
Major George B. Erath says, ''^School houses of logs were
found in the more thickly settled portions of country, but sel-
dom was a school kept in one of them for more than one year.
The same house, or the shade of a tree did very well for a re-
ligious ser\dce, and preachers of all denominations were pass-
ing and repassing."
One of the schools that had been located at Washington
prior to 1834, was transferred to Mount Vernon, once the
county site of Washington county, and Miss Lydia McHenry
taught there until 1836.
A very interesting feature of the first history of Baylor
University is now approached. We make no effort to con-
trovert the statement that Union Association is the mother
of Baylor University, and by turning back a few leaves in the
history of education in Texas, we trace its descent back one
more generation and discover also who our "Baylor's" grand
The first young ladies boarding school established in
Texas, was opened by Miss Trask of Boston, in 1834. The
academy building was of round cedar and post oak logs, the
room eighteen feet square. This school was located about
1,500 yards due west from the old Female College building at
Independence, knowm at that time as "Coles' Settlement." By
a most singular coincidence the location was also only a few
Dk. Eufus C. Burleson.
hundred yards north from the house in which Mrs. R. C. Bur-
leson was partially raised, and grew to womanhood. Miss
Trask was a very cultivated and highly educated lady and
as fearless as any frontiersman in Texas. W hen it was neces-
sary for her to do so, she mounted her Texas pony, swung a
six shooter on one horn of her saddle, and unattended, would
ride to La Grange, Houston or Austin, a distance of fifty or
seventy-five miles, the whole route infested with Indians and
other lawless characters.
This academy was continued until 1838 or 1839, when
Prof. Henry F. Gillette, as we have seen a member of the
first Faculty of Baylor University, bought out the school, and
established "Independence Academy" in 1841, which was
1. Houston and Cowden Halls. 2. Gymnasium.
3. Caekoll Science Hall. 4. Georgia Bukleson Hall
5. Main Building.
successfully conducted until 1845, when it was transferred and
became a part of Baylor University. So therefore, the Trask
Seminary, established January 31st, 1834, the first female
school opened in Texas, has the distinction of being the pro-
genitor of Baylor University and Baylor Female College.
From this brief account of the educational institutions in
Texas under the Mexican Eepublic, it is evident that institu-
tions of learning were few in number and poorly sustained,
under the existing state of affairs among the colonists, but
facts go to prove that they were not unmindful of the benefits
310 The Life and AVeitixgs of
to be derived from education, and that even beset by innum-
erable trials, thev exerted themselves to establish schools of
some kind, and to foster them to the limit of their ability.
The fundamental law of the Republic in providing for a
system of public free schools is worthy of the highest estima-
tion, as was also the decrees promulgated by the state of Coa-
huila and Texas for the same purpose. Those laws undoubted-
ly influenced legislation in later years, and were suggestive of
benefits we now enjoy in connection with the present school
The hindrances to the successful inauguration of any
system, were such as exist in all newly settled countries and the
obstacles to the establishment of such institutions are insur-
mountable; but were especially so under the turbulent state of
affairs throughout the Eepublic. Other parts of Mexico was
no better provided with educational facilities than was Texas.
To form an idea of the conditions in Mexico we can not do bet-
ter than refer to the discription of one of their schools about
the year 182.5 as given by an intelligent eye witness:
''I have just returned," says Mr. Poinsett, "from visit-
ing a school, and have been much amused with the appearance
of the pedagogue. In a large room, furnished with two or
three cowhides spread on the floor, and half a dozen low-
benches, were ten or twelve little urchins, all repeating their
lessons as loud as they could bawl. The master was stalking
about the room, with a ferule in his hand, and dressed in the
most grotesque manner. He had an old manta wrapped about
his loins, from under which there appeared the ends of tat-
tered leather breeches hanging over his naked legs; sandals
were bound round his ankles; a leather jerkin, the sleeves
worn off, and a dirty handkerchief twisted round his head,
above which his shaggy hair stood erect, completed his dress.
He seemed perfectly unconscious of his uncouth appearance,
but received me very courteously, dismissed his scholars im-
mediately, and at once entered into conversation on the state
of the country. He told me that he was bom in that house,
and had never wandered beyond the precincts of the village.
Several of the country people came in while we were talking,
and treated the pedagogue with great respect. He appeared
to be an oracle."
Dr. Rufus C. Burleson. 311
This graphic description enables one to estimate the ex-
tent of knowledge and refinement imparted in such an institu-
tion and we safely infer that all the country schools throughout
Mexico was of a like character where ignorance was almost
universal. This ignorance too, became more conspicuous
after the execution of the decree of December 8, 1827, which
was passed by the general congress and instigated by the ex-
cessive hatred entertained against the natives of old Spain
residing in Mexico, and in response to the clamor raised for
their expulsion. It was not only a barbarous law, but it "ban-
ished from her society those who possessed nearly all the in-
telligence and refinement in the nation. Miserable indeed is
the condition of that country which supposes that its safety
requires the banishment of its most accomplished and useful
As a contrast, it can be shown that the colonists in Texas
were generally of a high order of intellect. Many were fami-
liar with the refinements and elegancies of society, and they
practiced these evidences of civilization in the wilds of a
frontier life to the extent that circumstances would permit.
Many were of good families and bore names of distinction in
their former homes, and it is a well attested fact that all, at
least of Austin's colonists, were a superior order of people, and
that they would not tolerate any individual who was not law-
abiding and personally worthy of respect. As a natural con-
sequence, such a society attracted to it immigrants of like ten-
. dences and its disposition Avas to encourage every influence
calculated to elevate the character and provide for the intel-
lectual welfare of their offspring. That they did so, we have
every reason to believe, even if history did not attest the fact
in the chronicle of events.
The American population in Texas had increased to
thirty thousand in 1831, and were constantly augmenting,
notwithstanding the proscriptions of the national government
against immigration. The measures of tyranny attempted to
be instituted in Texas met with resistance, and the spirit then
manifested attracted a large number of adventurous characters
to the colonies. But the despotism of Bustamente had become
intolerable in Mexico, and a successful revolution in favor of
Santa Anna was the result.
312 The Life and Weitings of
The people of Texas gladly availed themselves of the
opportunity presented by the factious spirit in Mexico, and
professing sincere attachment to the constitution of 1824,
they gave their adherence to Santa Anna, and taking up arms
they resorted to force to suppress his opposition in Texas.
The successful battle of Velasco and ISTacogdoches added
dignity and lustre to the national flag. Thus Texans made
triumphant efforts at the promptings of patriotism in sweep-
ing Texas of Mexican soldiers, but in doing so they fostered
the power which was to control the destinies of Mexico, and to
drench her own beautiful prairies in blood.
The historical events which followed are not only out of
place in this brief view of early education in Texas, but are
too well known to be recited. After the treacherous and blood-
thirsty usurper, Santa Anna, secured his power in Mexico he
turned toward Texas for the purpose of satisfying his veng-
eance by exterminating the colonists. His success in the
massacre of Texan patriots at the Alamo and Goliad, gave him
confidence, and led him on to his ruin and doom. The declara-
tion of Texas Independence, the general uprising of the peo-
ple, and the glorious battle of San Jacinto, with the humiliat-
ing capture of the tyrant, terminated the disturbances in
Texas, and placed her among the respected powers of earth.
Dr. Rufus C. Burleson. 313
Education in Texas Under the Eepublic ā The Declara-