Republic of Texas Baptists organized their first association, the Union Baptist Association, in 1840. At the 1841 meeting a resolution calling for an "education society" was adopted. The leading figure was William M. Tryon. Though there has been some confusion regarding the date of its inception, Z. N. Morrell's statement that it was established in 1841 is correct. The first officers of the Texas Baptist Education Society were Robert E. B. Baylor, president; Stephen P. Andrews, recording secretary; William M. Tryon, corresponding secretary; and W. J. Collins, treasurer. The purposes of the society were to found a school, to help support young men studying for the ministry, and to promote education and elicit Baptist support throughout Texas for one institution. A private memorandum of Richard Ellis in 1844 stated that "plans were well under way" and that the society had decided to establish an institution "upon a plan so broad that the requirements" of the present be met as well as be "susceptible of enlargement and development to meet the demands of the ages to come." The committee appointed to formulate and secure a charter for the new school was composed of R. E. B. Baylor, J. G. Thomas, and William Tryon. A charter for Baylor University was granted by the Republic of Texas on February 1, 1845. The board of trustees was to be appointed by the Texas Baptist Education Society. The first beneficiary of the society was James H. Stribling, who enrolled at Baylor in 1846.
The Baptist State Convention was organized in 1848 for the purpose of coordinating the activities of the church. In 1849 the power to fill vacancies on the board of trustees was transferred to the state convention. The society thought that Baylor University could better serve the denomination as the property of the state convention. Consequently, the society gradually lost its power and function as granted by its charter. The only duty left was that of raising money for the support of young ministerial students. The outbreak of the Civil War apparently ended its activities. After 1859 no further reference is made to the society in the Union Association minutes. The society spearheaded the effort to foster higher education among the Baptists of Texas. Out of this endeavor came Baylor University, the largest Baptist University in the world. The female department of Baylor became Baylor Female College (now the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor), at one time the largest female college west of the Mississippi River.