Cumberland University

CU Trivia


In 1867, Horace Harmon Lurton graduated from Cumberland University. In 1909, he was appointed to the United States Supreme Court.

In 1863, the campus was burned. A History of Cumberland University 1842-1935 reads, "the blame of which rests on soldiers of both armies."

In 1866, Dr. Benjamin W. McDonnold became the third president of Cumberland University. He was the pastor of the local Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

Around the same time, alumnus Dr. W. E. Ward returned to the ruined campus and wrote Resurgam on a still-standing pillar. "I Will Arise."

Before and after the Civil War, Professor Alexander P. Stewart lead the School of Engineering. He later became Chancellor of the University of Mississippi.



Howell Edmunds Jackson graduated in 1856 and went on to become a Justice on the United States Supreme Court.

James Bennett McCreary graduated in 1858 and went on to become the governor of Kentucky.

William Hardy attended Cumberland in the 1850s. During his time as an administrator in the railroad industry, he founded the Mississippi cities of Gulf Port, Laurel and Hattiesburg. The latter was named in honor of his wife.

In 1854, Professor J.M. Safford was named State Geologist.

According to the YMCA website, the first “student YMCA” was started in 1856 at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee. According to another source, it was started by Professor A.P. Stewart.



Cumberland University had the first law school in Tennessee.

Franceway Ranna Cossitt was the first president. He later wrote The Life and Times of Finis Ewig.

Thomas C. Anderson served as the second president. At the same time, he was Professor of Belles Letteres and Mental and Moral Philosophy.

In July 1842. citizens of Lebanon made a $10,000 bid to the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church to locate its proposed university in their city.

While James Chamberlain "Lean Jimmy" Jones served as governor of Tennessee, he also served as one of the original members of Cumberland's Board of Trust.

In its first year, Cumberland University had 45 students. Those students faced several rules. Some follow:

  • If any student shall play at hand or football in the College building, or in the College yard, or throw anything in which the College buildings may be in danger of damage, he shall be admonished, sent home or dismissed.
  • No student shall, without permission, go to a greater distance than two miles from the College, at any time during the continuance of the session.
  • If any student shall ring the College bell, except by order of the President, a Professor or a Tutor, he shall be punished at the discretion of the Faculty.