Carl L. McFarland

CUMBERLAND COLLEGE. Cumberland College, in Leonard, was founded by the Texas Synod of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1911 as a coeducational institution. Its board of trustees consisted of Rev. J. W. Pearson, Joe F. Hall, John W. Groves, W. W. Witcher, and B. B. Braly. At the founding meetings Pearson was elected temporary president of the college. The campus included a three-story, twelve-room brick classroom building and a two-story, thirteen-room dormitory for women. In addition to the college campus, valued at $28,000, the college owned eleven lots in Leonard.

On September 12, 1911, Cumberland opened with thirty-four students. The first teachers were Pearson, professor of Greek and philosophy; Rev. DeCosta Howard Dodson, president and professor of mathematics; John F. Baker, instructor of telegraphy; Diana C. Miles, art teacher; and Gladys Marie Everett, music director. During the spring term of the first year Rev. W. J. Lackey was the dean of theology and business manager. Enrollment for the 1912–13 school year was twenty-two; George Medders was appointed professor of science and English. That year a primary department, under Maud Lackey, opened as an experiment. During the 1914–15 school year W. J. Jackey became the president, and the following year Rev. W. A. Boone, employed by the board of trustees of Cumberland Presbyterian Theology Seminary to teach theology in Cumberland College, took over. In 1914 the Cumberland Presbyterian General Assembly provided ministerial aid funds for Cumberland College.

Financial problems plagued the institution from the beginning. In 1911 the Texas Synod formulated plans to obtain funding through donations, and the trustees of the synod were granted a loan of $6,000. The loan and outside donations did enable the synod to purchase the college, but at the end of the first year, income did not cover expenses. In 1916 Rev. I. V. Stine collected over $8,000 in cash and promissory notes, but the hope of making the school financially viable ended with Stine's death in May 1917. On December 28, 1917, at a meeting of the Texas Synod, the board of trustees of Cumberland College recommended that the school be closed on January 8, 1918, and the property be sold. The campus was sold to the city of Leonard, and the classroom building became Leonard High School. This building and the women's dormitory were subsequently demolished. The site is now the location of the Leonard public schools.

Ben Burrus et al., A People Called Cumberland Presbyterians (Memphis: Frontier, 1972). Thomas H. Campbell, History of Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Texas (Nashville: Cumberland Presbyterian Publishing House, 1936). Fannin County Folks and Facts (Dallas: Taylor, 1977).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Carl L. McFarland, "CUMBERLAND COLLEGE," accessed February 21, 2020,

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...