01: In the beginning

In the waning days of the Republic of Texas, Baptist leaders felt called to found a Baptist university that would be "susceptible of enlargement and development to meet the demand of all ages to come." And as those leaders met to plan for the new university's creation, two questions were among the most important to be answered. What would the school be named, and where would it be located?

When Baptist officials submitted their petition to the Congress of the Republic of Texas in late 1844 to secure a charter for a new university, there was no mention of a school name. As the Texas Senate considered the petition, the founders tried to agree on a name.

Two names that reflected the patriotic fervor of the young Republic were proposed and later dropped--San Jacinto University, in recognition of the battle that had won Texas its independence, and Milam University, honoring Texas Revolutionary hero Ben Milam.

Two other names were proposed recognizing denominational leaders who had played a large role in the school's creation. Judge R.E.B. Baylor, the president of the Texas Baptist Education Society, suggested the school be named Tryon University in honor of Education Society Vice President William Tryon, who originated the idea for a university and worked strongly for its creation.

Tryon declined, feeling that putting his name on the institution would make it appear he had done it all for personal gain. Tryon turned the tables and insisted that the university be named after his friend Judge Baylor, who in turn protested that he had done nothing to deserve such an honor.

Tryon and Baylor might have gone on for weeks refusing to accept each other's tributes, but after Texas Vice President Kenneth Anderson added his support to Tryon's suggestion, the name Baylor University was formally recommended and approved by Congress.

The question of where to place the new school was still unanswered when Baylor University's charter was signed by Texas President Anson Jones on Feb. 1, 1845. When a board of trustees was seated in May 1845, deciding on Baylor's location was one of its first priorities.

Texas towns were invited to submit bids to be Baylor's home. Bids were received from Huntsville, Independence, Travis and Shannon's Prairie.

The property offered in the bid from Independence had the largest potential monetary value, and trustees choose the centrally located town over Huntsville by a 10-to-1 vote. Baylor University's first class was held May 18, 1846, in Independence.