Veritas et Humanitas
"For truth and humanity."
DANIEL BAKER COLLEGE
The college was named in memory of the Rev. Dr. Daniel Baker, Presbyterian minister, who helped organize the first presbytery in Texas in 1840 and Austin College in 1849. Born on August 17, 1791 at Midway, Liberty County, Georgia, he was the second president of Austin College (1853- 1857.) He died in Austin, Texas on December 10, 1857.
DR. BRAINARD TAYLOR McCLELLAND, FOUNDER AND FIRST PRESIDENT OF DBC
as first related in HPU's Campus Newspaper, The Yellow Jacket
by Dr. Robert G. Mangrum, University Historian
Men with a vision have shaped this country since the very beginning of our history. Included in this group would be the pantheon of American history heroes such as Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln. From our perspective we could add such notables as John D. Robnett, E. Howard Payne, Thomas Taylor, Guy D. Newman and the subject of today’s column, Dr. Brainard Taylor McClelland, the founder and first president of Daniel Baker College.
B. T. McClelland was born in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania near Mount Jackson on February 11, 1845. Moving to Oberlin, Ohio with his parents in 1850, he graduated from Oberlin College in 1866. Following graduation, he taught school in Texas for two years and one year in Arkansas. His desire to be a minister caused him to return east and study theology for two years at Oberlin. As Oberlin was a Congregational College, he chose to attend Union Seminary in New York for his senior year. Upon graduation from Seminary in 1873, he offered himself to the Presbyterian Board of Missions, was accepted and returned as a missionary to Texas.
In August 1875, he traveled west to Comanche intending to settle there but, upon finding a Presbyterian church already organized there in 1874, he accepted the invitation of a teamster, with a load of lumber, to ride along with him to Brownwood.
From Dr. McClelland’s later reminiscences we learn that he was "seized with the conviction that here was his life’s work." Launching his formal ministerial career in 1875 in Brownwood, the edge of the line of settlement in Texas, he found only one Presbyterian in the entire county. Immediately he set to work and by 1876 a sufficient number of his denomination had "come trekking in" that on September 10, 1876, a church was organized in the home of John Ross. Following this, in October Dr. McClelland returned to Pennsylvania and married his cousin, Susan Mary Smith. The couple returned to Brownwood in November 1876.
The first major undertaking of Dr. McClelland was to build a permanent church building; this was accomplished in 1886. Once this was completed, Dr. McClelland turned to the task of establishing a Presbyterian college for west Texas. The earliest mention of such a project was found in the records of the Austin Presbytery, U.S.A., in session in Georgetown on April 6, 1882. An Overture to the General Assembly, written by McClelland, asked for assistance and endowment of said college somewhere in this area of Texas. The response was the establishment of Daniel Baker College in 1888, detailed in an earlier column.
Earlier, in 1877, McClelland had purchased 30 acres, at $15 per acre, located between Fisk Street and Center Avenue in Brownwood. When construction began on the initial college building McClelland not only used his influence but also his physical labor quarrying and hauling rocks for use in the construction. As one later noted, "Along with the foundation of stone, he laid his life, his energies and his influence to the building of a Christian institution."
A clash with the Baptists seemed imminent as it was discovered that the Baptists owned the adjacent piece of land and intended on building their college on that site. Early in 1888 or 1889 McClelland had approached Robnett for a donation for the funding of DBC; Robnett was reported to have said to McClellan: "Sir, the Presbyterians have no greater need for a college than have the Baptists and I am determined to devote myself to securing such a school for my denomination." The Presbyterians yielded and moved DBC to its present site south of the railroad.
As the first president of DBC, Dr. McClelland almost singlehandedly, kept the college open during these early years, through his own personal determination. In Dr. Thomas Taylor’s papers we find this observation: "McClelland placed his life, his heart, and his brains as well as almost all his personal means, sacrificing even the comfort of himself and his family to the public good." Dr. McClelland would not live to see his work completed; with his health failing, he died suddenly on Sunday morning March 10, 1901 at the age of 56.
The DBC Collegian provides a fitting eulogy: "Dr. McClelland had worked unceasingly and had done all that was his to do. He had set standards high and rigid and had kept them there. University texts, methods, and men were employed by him. To him as leader and guiding star the ‘Daniel Baker Spirit’ is traced. Great masses of wealth and prestige that might come to the college could not mean so much as the life example of this man. His life well illustrates faith without fanaticism, piety without hypocrisy, zeal without excesses, courage without recklessness, approval without flattery, reproof without bitterness, fairness without favoritism, and service without servility, as well as other admirable traits. There are schools which have large endowments and give material equipment which Daniel Baker does not have, yet lack the traditions, associations, and inspirations, founded in faith, nursed in poverty, nourished in prayer, and dedicated to the glory of God that Daniel Baker has through the spirit of its founder. The spirit of Daniel Baker College is the spirit of Dr. McClelland, that veneration, love, and unselfish devotion to high ideals held by the founder."
That "spirit" continues today in Howard Payne University.
© Dr. Robert G. Mangrum, University Historian
Page Updated 12 April 2006