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Mina Everett's effectiveness was beyond question. Audiences sat with "rapt attention and tear-dimmed eyes" BS, August 29, 1895, p. 7. as she addressed them with "pathos and power." Annual Report of the BWMW of Texas, 1887, p. 76. J. M. Carroll related a story of hearing her speak to the Nacogdoches Association out under the trees before their Sunday morning worship hour:

Timidly, womanly, tearfully, prayerfully and powerfully she spoke. There was not a dry eye in that large audience. The people were strangely and mightily moved, and the author himself being wonderfully impressed...closed by asking Miss Mina to take a hat and take a foreign mission offering. She did it tearfully, gracefully, modestly. The hat was literally filled to running over. The cash collection that day was more than had been given by the whole Association for all missions during the whole preceding year. Carroll, p. 862.

Women were less likely to describe Mina Everett's timidity; quite in contrast, they praised the intelligence and toughness that moved her to overcome obstacles that "to timid hearts would have been insurmountable" BS, December 14, 1911, p. 15. and described her as "a progressive in woman's realm." Mrs. W. J. J. Smith, p. 49.

If that toughness was not yet present on the occasion Carroll described, Everett developed it in the period she served as corresponding secretary to the BWMW and field organizer for the mission boards. Because her tenure extended into the Hayden-BGCT controversy of the 1890s, she came under criticism, as did all phases of organized mission work. In the face of Hayden's criticism of interchurch mission activities, men of the stature of B. H. Carroll became defensive, and in 1895 he went before the women and suggested they disband. Mrs. W. J. J. Smith described the reaction:

Someone rose and asked: "Well, Dr. Carroll, do you not think that women can be serviceable in church work?" To which he answered: "In my church I have the women divided into circles, and when I need a certain kind of work done I call on a certain circle, and if I have a different character of work to be done I call on another circle." Whereupon Miss Mina, of courageous heart, spoke to him through his ear trumpet, without which he could not hear at all: "Will you tell us, Dr. Carroll, by what Scriptural authority you direct your women's work?" Looking at her in quiet dignity, he laid aside his ear trumpet. Thus ended the discussion. Ibid., pp. 49-50.

Despite a depression and denominational unrest, the number of women's societies advanced in the early 1890s due to Mina Everett's travelling for that expressed purpose. Fannie Davis, who had moved to San Antonio and was approaching sixty years of age, had to curtail her travels, but was not one to become disengaged. In 1889 she began editing a paper called The Texas Baptist Worker to inform Texas women about missions; her husband served as business manager. Annual Report of the BWMW of Texas, 1889, n. p. My research has not located any existing copies of this publication. The paper continued to be printed for eight years when it was consolidated with The Missionary Messenger , the publication of the state mission board. The popular Baptist Standard also included a "woman's department" from its inception in 1892. Hollie Harper, editor of the section, made a personal plea to the "sisters" to make it their forum. She printed the letters she got from women all over the state detailing their spiritual successes and struggles, added her own encouraging notes, publicized BWMW and WMU information, and reported on the activities of missionaries. Responses to the paper indicated a depth of sororal feeling among the women, and Hollie Harper appeared to have engendered it, as well. The repetitious "Dear Sisters . . ." expressed both a need and its fulfillment, as did these typical expressions:

I visited a sister yesterday who had four of her family sick . . . BS, March 2, 1893, p. 2
My dear sister, I have so often thought of your sweet words of love and admonition . . . BS, November 9, 1893, p. 7.
She greeted me with the affection of a sister . . . there was a prevading [sic] feeling of kinship. BS, November 26, 1895, p. 7.
The meeting was delightful because of the sweet harmony that pervaded every session. Oh, how we love the sisters of our Union. BS, June 1, 1893, p. 3.

Although the letters were written during troubled times for Texas Baptists, neither they nor the BWMW reports and minutes ever addressed, much less took sides publicly in the power struggle between S. A. Hayden and various BGCT leaders. The most direct reference was made in Mina Everett's 1894 report as corresponding secretary; there she alluded to "hindrances that have been greater than helps" and stated that "[t]rue fellowship has not prevailed." Later she clarified that the lack of fellowship had been from "without" the BWMW and that the hindrances from within were limited to the lack of organization. BS, October 25, 1894, p. 7. Three steps were taken at the meeting that year to correct the latter: first, a "Plan of Work" committee was appointed to coordinate activities throughout the year for the state body and for each society; second, an executive committee was to be selected with power to carry on the work of the executive board between sessions; and third, the BWMW accepted space for executive headquarters offered them in the American Baptist Publishing House in Dallas.

In one historian's evaluation, the meeting "proved to be the pivot on which the machinery turned in the right direction.” Mrs. W. J. J. Smith, p. 44. The administrative decisions did give the primitive organizational gears of the BWMW the grooves with which they could begin to mesh and move with more swiftness and ease, but they removed it from Fannie Davis's intimate, single-leader style. And they bore the signs of the shifting of the center of Baptist activity from the early-settled regions of south central Texas to the Dallas-Waco axis. According to records, family illness kept Mrs. Davis from following through on the appointment of the executive committee and from attending the session in 1895, when she declined to serve further as president. The situation was complicated by her sympathy with Hayden. This fact was affirmed by Georgia Smith, Fannie Davis's granddaughter. She did not, however, retire to inactivity. She and her husband became mainstays of Hayden's newspaper as "Aunt Fanny and Uncle George," authors of a children's column, and they began a Saturday Industrial School in San Antonio.

At a BWMW Silver Anniversary ceremony in 1911, Fannie Davis was named "President Emeritus" and honored as the one to whom the organization was indebted for its life. A $5,000 memorial in her honor was given to the Church Building and Loan Fund of the Home Mission Board after her death in 1915, and twenty Fannie Breedlove Davis scholarships were endowed at Mary Hardin-Baylor College (formerly Baylor Female College) during its centennial year, 1945.

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, Patricia martin's phd thesis. OpenStax CNX. Dec 12, 2012 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11462/1.1
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