RUTHERFORD COLLEGE 1870’s-1925 was located off the present 1-40 Buchanan exit and just south of the truck stop on Epps Mill Road. The school was first on the east side of the road on the farm of A. J. Todd, once the Howland farm where Estes Miles, former governor of New Mexico, was reared. Later the school was rebuilt across the road on the old Mankin farm, later the farm of Sam Pearson, now owned by Everett C. Rhodes.
In 1890, County Superintendent James P. Nelson reported to the state: “We have some of the best schools in the state in our county: . . . Rutherford College.
The first school was a log building. The second, a frame building, painted white, with windows of small paned glass, consisted of three rooms across the front. Each room had a pot-bellied stove. The middle and the north rooms were divided by folding doors which permitted the conversion of the
two rooms into an auditorium. The north room had a stage.
Principals included Rev. Crump, John Woodfin, 1892, Robert Armstrong Taylor, Marion Parker, Ellen Brown Mullins, Lula Ridley, Sam Robinson, Jim Dallas Jacobs, John Thurman Jacobs, Raymond McElroy, Eugene R. Hoover, P. A. Lyon, Dooley Gobelet in 1922, and Commodore Holt, who was the last principal.
Other known teachers were Maggie Smith Gamewell, Marie Bosselman, Lillie Buchanan, Fannie Sade, Spencer Donnell, a Mr. Nelson, Matthias Parker, S. Ewell, Frank McElroy, Anna Bell Becton Roberts.
The picture made in 1892 shows Frances, Maggie D., and Susie Buchanan, all daughters of former Governor John Price Buchanan. Another sister, Rebecca, founded the Buchanan Players at MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE. Other students were P. A. Lyon, second president of STATE TEACHERS COLLEGE; Buford Todd, son of A. J. Todd, who became a lawyer; Ira Daniel, Rutherford County School Superintendent, and Uncle Dave Macon.
RUTHERFORD COLLEGE was torn down before BUCHANAN SCHOOL
was completed. Students were sent for a few months to other neighborhood schools. In about 1926, Nathan Burns, his father, and Will Miller hauled the old lumber by wagon to Christiana. The wood was used to build an annex to the CHRISTINA HIGH SCHOOL, the school building which later became a gymnasium.
Only a large pin oak or chinquapin tree and a few foundation stones mark the second site. A spring is a few hundred yards away.
SOURCES: Tennessee. Department of Public Instruction. Annual Report 1890 Nashville: Marshall and Bruce, 1891, p. 160. *Gene Sloan, “Tales of Two Schools,” The Daily News Journal Accent, May 8, 1977. “Buchanan Was Originally Rutherford College,” The Daily News Journal, Nov. 13, 1963,
p. 5. Letter, dated May 23, 1985, from Jeanne Gilmore Webb. *Elvira Brothers, whose father, Ed Brothers, b. 1865, was an early student. Interviews, Aug. 22, 1983, with Brents Pearson, b. 1904, student and nephew of Sam Pearson; Aug. 22, 1983, with Tom Ailman, b. 1909, student who fired the three stoves; Aug. 17, 1981, with Nathan Burns and Will Miller. Nathan died July 3, 1984 *Mary Frank Auberry.