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Davis, Fannie Breedlove (1833–1915)

Clyde M. DeLoach Biography Entry

Fannie Breedlove Davis, Texas Woman's Missionary Union leader, the daughter of Pleasant Ellis and Hannah (Crump) Breedlove, was born in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, on November 24, 1833. Her father was a plantation owner. After the family moved to Texas in 1847, Fannie studied in the Female Department of Baylor University. On January 4, 1855, she married George Bowen Davis; they had two daughters.

Mrs. Davis is most noted for her work with the Woman's Missionary Union. Women in the Southern Baptist Convention had become so involved in raising money for missions that in 1878 the convention recommended that the work of the women be coordinated through state central committees under the direction of the Foreign Mission Board and the Home Mission Board. In 1878 Fannie Davis was elected president of the Home Board Central Committee of Texas. The growing enthusiasm of women for both foreign and home missions inspired her and Anne E. Luther to lead the formation in October 1880 of the Texas Woman's Missionary Union. Mrs. Davis was elected its first president. A spirit of unification led, in 1886, to the merger of the WMU of Texas with the Ladies General Aid Society in order to ensure more effective support of missions. As the recognized leader of the women's missionary movement in Texas, Fannie Davis was elected president of the new Baptist Women Mission Workers. She continued in this capacity until 1895. She was one of the Texas representatives to the 1888 meeting of Southern Baptist women in Richmond, Virginia. When Annie Armstrong, in the face of some opposition, proposed the organization of a convention-wide women's missionary society, Mrs. Davis seconded and supported her. The result was the establishment, on May 11, 1888, of the Woman's Missionary Union as an auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention.

Fannie Davis launched the Texas Baptist Worker in 1889 in Houston, with her husband as business manager. The Worker provided information on missions for the women of Texas and served as one of the prototypes for the extensive WMU literature of today. Under her leadership, offerings for missions in Texas grew from $35 in 1880 to $23,193 in 1895. She retired as president of the Baptist Women Mission Workers in 1895. She was present, however, at the celebration of the silver anniversary in Waco in 1911. As a tribute to her early leadership, she was elected president emerita for life. Later the Fannie Breedlove Davis Memorial was established in her honor. She died in San Antonio on January 1, 1915.

James Milton Carroll, A History of Texas Baptists (Dallas: Baptist Standard, 1923). Alma Hunt, History of the Woman's Missionary Union (Nashville: Convention Press, 1976). Mrs. W. J. J. Smith, A Centennial History of the Baptist Women of Texas (Dallas: Woman's Missionary Union of Texas, 1933).


  • Religion
  • Baptist
  • Women

Time Periods:

  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas


  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

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

Clyde M. DeLoach, “Davis, Fannie Breedlove,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed February 27, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: