The Texas Baptist and Herald was produced by the merger of Samuel A. Hayden's Texas Baptist and John B. Link's Texas Baptist Herald in 1886. Link's paper, endorsed by the General Baptist Association of Texas from 1869 to 1873, replaced the Texas Baptist published in Anderson from 1855 to 1861 and the Christian Herald of 1865. Link mailed his new paper to every Baptist minister and family when he first published it in Houston on December 13, 1865. It supported the Bremond meeting recommendation of a central Baptist university and unification of Baptist work in Texas, but it was unacceptable to North Texas Baptists who had special interests and supported Waco University. Jonas Johnston acquired a half interest from Link in 1877, which he sold in 1881. O. C. Pope became joint editor with Link in 1878, but resigned in 1885. Among other associate editors and writers were George W. Baines, Sr., Robert H. Taliaferro, Rufus C. Burleson, William Carey Crane, Benajah H. Carroll, F. W. Law, J. A. Kimball, J. H. Luther, L. W. Coleman, D. B. Morrill, and M. V. Smith. The paper became a weekly in June of 1866, ceased publication briefly because of an 1867 Houston yellow fever epidemic, moved to Dallas and then Austin, and published its last issue at Waco on July 8, 1886.
The rival to Link's paper that became part of the Texas Baptist and Herald contained more secular news and took a stand against the Catholic Church and alcohol. Known first as the Religious Messenger and later as the Texas Baptist, this paper, started by Robert C. Buckner and his brother-in-law Dr. G. E. Long at Paris on January 31, 1874, advocated mutually recognized north and south Texas missionary organizations that could work in harmony and be acceptable to North Texans and promoted Buckner Orphans Home (now Buckner Baptist Children's Home). The first issue of the 26-page weekly, renamed the Texas Baptist, appeared on January 13, 1876. B. H. Carroll, Samuel Hayden, W. H. Parks, S. J. Anderson, and W. C. Crane served as associate editors or wrote articles. Buckner also ran the Baptist Book Depository which sold Bibles, religious books, and Sunday school literature, and the Texas Baptist Publishing House, which printed books, association and convention minutes, and other Baptist literature. These combined to form the Texas Baptist Publishing House in 1883. Buckner then sold both the Texas Baptist and the Texas Baptist Publishing House to Hayden in May 1883. Hayden, who wanted one denominational state paper or two without rivalry, ran the paper with S. J. Anderson as half-owner and coeditor from January 1884 to December 10, 1884, when Anderson sold his interest to Hayden.
In 1883 the Texas Baptist began a movement toward unification of all Baptist work in Texas, and in 1886 editors of the Texas Baptist and Link's Texas Baptist Herald met with Baptist committees to try to unify the two privately owned papers. A non-binding vote at the Baptist General Convention in Waco determined a new paper would be published in Dallas, and Link sold the Texas Baptist Herald to Hayden. The new consolidated paper, known as the Texas Baptist and Herald, was first published on July 15, 1886. Under the editorship of Link and Hayden (Hayden as proprietor), the paper, which began with a subscription list of over 11,000, wrote against alcohol and the Catholic Church, had columns on science, art, and travel, and included commercial advertising and illustrations. Its circulation reached 15 to 20,000 by the mid-1890s. Adonram J. Holt, F. M. Law, and A. R. Hayden later were associated with it. A controversy over an 1894 letter from Hayden complaining of the excessive salaries of executive board leaders of the Baptist General Convention and powers of convention messengers caused a dispute between James B. Gambrell, using the Missionary Worker newspaper to report convention views and Hayden's Texas Baptist and Herald. A rivalry existed between the Texas Baptist Standard, later the Baptist Standard, and the Texas Baptist and Herald by the early 1890s, and the Texas Baptist Standard was also used to counter Hayden's views. At the 1899 Dallas convention Hayden's candidates lost, and Hayden was refused a seat. Hayden filed a suit against James B. Cranfill of the Texas Baptist Standard and thirty others and won in April 1908. Hayden later aligned himself with the East Texas Baptist Convention formed on July 6, 1900, and the Missionary Baptist Convention of Texas. In September 1898 Hayden replaced the "and" of the Texas Baptist and Herald's title with a hyphen, and in November 1904 the paper became simply the Texas Baptist Herald. The Texas Baptist Publishing House was incorporated on September 3, 1904, and Hayden transferred the paper to the trustees, retaining a contract that allowed him management and editorial control for his lifetime. J. Frank Norris, business manager of the Texas Baptist Standard, bought the paper in April 1907, and the last issue appeared in December 1908.