Daniel Baker College, in Brownwood, was founded in 1888 as a Presbyterian college and named after clergyman Daniel Baker, who had helped to organize both the first presbytery of his church in Texas in 1840 and Austin College in 1849 and had advocated a public school system for the state. The Coggin brothers, local residents, donated land for the campus in 1889, and in 1890 the college began to hold classes under the direction of Brainard Taylor McClelland, who served as president until his death eleven years later. The college opened with a faculty of seven, four of whom held M.A. degrees from eastern colleges, and with a student enrollment of 111, a figure that doubled in one year. In 1894 the enrollment had decreased to 95, and in 1899 to 62. Growth soon resumed, however, both in enrollment and in the physical plant; to the original main building were added a women's dormitory in 1911, a chapel in 1921, and a gymnasium in 1928. Nevertheless, financial difficulties plagued the college until, in 1929, the church released control and the institution became independent.
In 1942 John N. R. Score assumed the presidency of Southwestern University in Georgetown. Score, known as an expansionist, launched his "University of Small Colleges" plan under which, in 1946, Southwestern acquired Daniel Baker College. But the plan was unable to solve the smaller school's problems; enrollment once again was decreasing, accreditation was withheld, and finances were not improving. In 1949 the experiment was abandoned.
In 1950 the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas began operating the school, which had grown to comprise fourteen acres and eight buildings, as one of only two Episcopal senior colleges in the United States. Once again the college was accredited. It had an enrollment of 200 and a faculty of twenty-six, with eight Ph.D.'s; it offered B.A. and B.S. degrees and, beginning in September 1951, a program in church-work training with sixteen female students enrolled. Daniel Baker played basketball in the Big State Athletic Conference. Nevertheless, the college once again failed financially, and in 1953 it closed. Its campus was taken over by nearby Howard Payne College (now Howard Payne University), which remodeled the main Daniel Baker building for use as the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom.