Baptist Standard

By: Samuel B. Hesler and Presnall H. Wood

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: October 20, 2018

The Baptist Standard, a Baptist newspaper, began as the Baptist News, first published in Honey Grove, Texas, on December 6, 1888, as an alternative to the Texas Baptist and Herald. Rev. Lewis Holland was the editor and proprietor, and Rev. J. A. Boyet soon became joint editor and proprietor. The Baptist News circulated mainly in Fannin and adjoining counties. It was a four-page paper with five columns per page but was enlarged to seven columns in August 1889 and published every Thursday. On October 1, 1889, Holland bought Boyet's interest in the paper and moved it to Elm Street in Dallas. One of the reasons for this move was to increase the circulation to more counties. Another reason was that Dallas was the center of a conflict between Samuel A. Hayden, the editor of the Texas Baptist and Herald, and leading Baptists with whom Holland identified. Hayden was in dispute especially with R. T. Hanks, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Dallas. The controversy developed into personal attack, although a First Baptist Church committee found Hanks innocent of immorality but guilty of indiscretions. Twenty-four members withdrew from the congregation and formed another church, and Hayden gave aid and council to them. Hanks resigned as pastor in June 1889 and bought from Holland half interest in the Baptist News that same year. Holland remained as coeditor. Toward the end of 1889, when the format of the Baptist News became eight pages with five columns a page and its name was changed to Western Baptist, the newspaper's circulation was 3,000. It was enlarged to six columns a page on January 9, 1890. The subscription rate was $1.50 a year ($1.00 for active ministers). Holland bought back part of the paper in May 1891.

James B. Cranfill, superintendent of missions for the Baptist General Convention of Texas, wrote a regular column for the Western Baptist called "Dr. Cranfill's Paragraph." James M. Carroll and J. Frank Kiefer also had articles in the paper. Hanks used his position at the paper to argue his defense in the Hayden-Hanks controversy, as he had in the Baptist News. Hayden, meanwhile, alienated his readers and friends, and the Western Baptist grew in circulation. Some thought that both papers should be bought to end the strife, but the price of the Texas Baptist and Herald was too high. As the problems with Hayden and the Texas Baptist and Herald grew steadily worse, Rev. M. V. Smith, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Belton, and Cranfill, then corresponding secretary of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, met and discussed the need for a Baptist paper in Texas that could be published as a "peace paper." With the finances of W. L. Williams, a deacon of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Smith and Cranfill bought the Western Baptist for $3,000 on March 1, 1892. It had 6,000 subscribers. After February 25, 1892, the name of the paper was changed to Texas Baptist Standard and later shortened to Baptist Standard.

When Smith died in 1893, Cranfill became the sole proprietor of the paper. The Standard was published in Waco from 1894 until 1898, when it moved back to Dallas. After a bitter dispute with Hayden, Cranfill sold the Standard in 1904 to George W. Carroll, who in turn sold the paper to T. B. Butler. Joel H. Gambrell became the editor and served from 1904 until 1907. J. Frank Norris became the owner in 1907; Joseph M. Dawson was editor in 1907–08, and Norris was editor in 1908–09. In 1909 a group headed by George W. Truett of the First Baptist Church in Dallas bought the paper, and James B. Gambrell was made the editor. Gambrell and Truett transferred ownership of the Baptist Standard to the Baptist General Convention of Texas on March 19, 1914. The Baptist Standard Publishing Company, a nonprofit corporation, was organized to publish the paper as a subsidiary of the convention. The purpose of the publishing corporation was "to aid and support the Baptist General Convention of Texas and to interpret events and movements that affect the welfare of the people of God." In 1969 the Baptist Standard Publishing Company published a history of the Baptist Standard by Presnall H. Wood and Floyd W. Thatcher, entitled Prophets With Pens. Those serving as editor of the Baptist Standard from 1914, when the paper came under the ownership of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, were: E. C. Routh (1914–28), F. M. McConnell (1928–44), David M. Gardner (1944–54), E. S. James (1954–66), John J. Hurt (1966–77), and Presnall H. Wood (1977–95). In 1990, as the official weekly publication of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, the Standard distributed information, inspiration, and interpretation to 300,000 homes in Texas, other states, and many countries in the world.

Baptist Standard, September 17, 1896, February 9, 1922. James Milton Carroll, A History of Texas Baptists (Dallas: Baptist Standard, 1923). Texas Baptist Historical Society, "Contributions of the Baptist Standard to Baptist Life, 1888–1988," Texas Baptist History 9 (1989). Presnall H. Wood, History of the Texas Baptist Standard, 1888–1959 (Ph.D. dissertation, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1964).

  • Journalism
  • Religion
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Publications, Journals, and Magazines
  • Baptist
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas
  • North Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Samuel B. Hesler and Presnall H. Wood, “Baptist Standard,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 27, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 20, 2018

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