Days Gone By - stories from the past

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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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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