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Cumberland College

Carl L. McFarland General

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).


  • Education
  • Defunct Colleges and Universities
  • Religion
  • Presbyterian

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

Carl L. McFarland, “Cumberland College,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 29, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.