He founded an academy in Tuscumbia to remember his son – what a wonderful tribute

Brigadier Gen. James Deshler (1833-1863)

Deschler, James
Brigadier Gen. James Deshler (1833-1863)

Deshler Female Institute was an educational institution, incorporated as declared in its charter, “for the sole purpose of the education of the females of the white race.” It was founded by Maj. David Deshler, one of the most public-spirited citizens of Colbert County.

It was a memorial to his son, Brig. Gen. James Deshler, who fell at the head of his troops in the battle of Chickamauga. The will of Maj. Deshler provided that the square in the town of Tuscumbia, upon which his residence was built, together with all the buildings thereon should be “dedicated to the erection of an undenominational college for the educaton of white females, upon the contribution of $10,000 of bona fide stock by citizens of Tuscumbia.” Maj. Deshler died December 6, 1871. However, the trustees, on May 31, 1870, had come together and organized. The secretary of state issued a charter under the general laws, September 20. 1870.

Destroyed by a tornado within two months

The main administration building was completed in 1874, and work of instruction was begun in September of that year, under P. M. Custer as principal. Within two months after the opening, a terrific tornado destroyed the school property, which interrupted the work for a time. The school was temporarily carried on in the Baptist church. The officers and faculty, aided by the citizens and Masons of the community, erected another building, and everything was put in thorough repair. In the control and management of the school the Masonic fraternity and the city of Tuscumbia exercise the largest control.

The aim of the institution is “to send forth into the world of activity, refined, cultivated, useful women, equipped for life.” It has continued its work to the present, with more or less success, but without as large support as it has merited.

The Institute was a handsome two story brick building that stood on Main Street in the center of the block or square which included the residence of David Deshler.


  1. Catalogues and Announcements, 1886. 1904, 1906;
  2. Acts. 1876-77, p. 289;
  3. Brewer, Alabama (1872), p. 191; and manuscript data in the Alabama Department of Archives and History.
  4. City of Tuscumbia

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  1. […] Tuscumbia Lodge No. 40, at Courtland, organized under Tennessee jurisdiction March 3, 1821, and chartered December 18, 1821. Surrendered charter in 1824 and united with the Grand Lodge of Alabama. […]

  2. […] block further on the Descheler High-school Building is situated.(See the history of Deschler)  It was a strong brick sturcture, erected at a cost of $300,000. At the first shock of the tornado […]

  3. This is fascinating. I feel a Google search coming on later today for information and possibly photographs of the school. How long was the school open?

    Thanks so much. I really enjoy my daily dose of Alabama Pioneers.

  4. […] his son, James, was killed at Chickamauga. Maj. Deshler gave the grounds and building of the old Deshler Female Institute to Tuscumbia as a memorial to his son. Gen. James Deshler. The Deshler High School at Tuscumbia […]

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