Historical Marker: Rev. John David Robnett      


Founder of Howard Payne University, John David Robnett (1845-1898) was born in Missouri, where he was educated at Westminster and William Jewell colleges and was ordained to the Baptist ministry. In 1883, Robnett was called to serve as pastor at the First Baptist Church of Brownwood, Texas. There he met pioneer missionary Noah Turner Byars (1808-1888) and embraced Byars' vision of a Baptist college in central Texas. Byars' dream was realized when the Pecan Valley Baptist Association, which he and Robnett helped found, agreed in 1889 to establish such a college. As a member of the first board of trustees of the school, Robnett visited his hometown of Fulton, Missouri, where he secured sizable pledges and funds with the aid of his brother-in-law, Edward Howard Payne. The trustees named the fledgling college in honor of Payne's generosity. Dr. Robnett continued as chief fund-raiser for Howard Payne College while serving as first board president and later as college president. He returned to the pulpit in 1896, as pastor of Gaston Avenue Baptist Church in Dallas, and continued there until his death two years later at the age of 53. Originally buried on the Howard Payne College campus near the Old Main building, John David Robnett was reinterred in Brownwood's Greenleaf Cemetery upon the death of his wife, Dollie, in 1911. (2001)

Location: Howard Payne University campus, Austin Ave. at Center St.