2009 marks the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the First Baptist Church of Blanco, which was constituted on Sunday, November 6, 1859. The Honorable Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, and the Honorable Patrick M. Rose, Texas State Representative, have forwarded jubilant official acknowledgement to the congregation through the history committee.
One of seven children, Mary (named for a maternal aunt) Charlotte (for paternal Welch grandmother) Alexander exemplifies the church’s missionary zeal; she was born May 19, 1886 in Blanco to Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Jefferson Alexander.
At a 1897 camp meeting, Mary and her sister Frances professed their faith in Jesus Christ and were baptized by Rev. M.H. Bell at Red Bluff, just below the Camp of Tejas Trail in the Blanco River.
Mrs. J.W. Baines, granmother of President Lyndon B. Johnson, was Mary’s first Sunday School teacher. She adored Mrs. Baines; her grandmother and Mrs. Baines were close friends.
The Alexander Family lived at the now Jesse Johnson place across the river from the Baines Family home. When Mary’s grandmother had special food to share with the Baines Family, she would hang out a red tablecloth and Huffman Baines would come over and get it.
In 1904, Mary graduated from Blanco High School, valedictorian of the class. She and Frances spent the summer of 1905 studying to take exams for teaching certificates.
Mary graduated from the Baylor Music Department and took her Bachelors Degree in 1909, Summa Cum Laude, and became a member of the Foreign Mission Board.
Mary taight at Decatur College, Blanco High School, and Tarleton College prior to her studying in seminary Bible and Missionary Training in Kentucky 1915-1917.
Mary spent 1917-1920 with the First Baptist Church of San Antonio as Educational Secretary. In 1918, her father passed away and in 1920 the family moved to Sour Lake, from where Mary departed to China. The trip was made by train, ship, and riverboat to Canton, China, where she began the study of language and became head of Pooi-To Academy. In 1926 on furlough, she obtained her Master’s Degree in Education at the University of Texas at Austin.
In 1927 and in 1936, Mary taught Bible, music and language in China and was adviser to the Academy’s Chinese Director.
In 1937, the Southern Baptist Board transferred Mary to Shanghai to help the Baptist Press. In 1938, she became General Secretary to All China Baptist Women’s Missionary Union and also acting General Secretary to All China Baptist Young People’s Organization.
Due to Pearl Harbor, the missionaries were confined to their homes by order of the Japanese. Then Mary was ordered to internment camp. In Autumn 1943, she returned home to Texas.
In 1946, Mary returned to Baptist Press in Shanghai; in 1952, she was in Hong Kong to revive the Baptist Press.
In the early 1970s, the Lord called Mary home; she rests near her beloved Blanco River.