Editor:

This has to do with alleged 1830 establishment of the University of North Alabama. I did some research after searching online for “LaGrange College, Tuscumbia, AL.”

A few people tried their best to use the name LaGrange College when they decided to set up their version of a college in Florence.

They were told this was not going to work, and had to choose a different name. Florence Wesleyan University was founded on February 14, 1856.

Through a series of name changes Wesleyan University eventually became the University of North Alabama.

In the interest of space, a few excerpted sentences from the page at www.lagrangehistoricsite.com/history/ explain it further.

LaGrange College 1830–1855

In the early 1820’s, LaGrange was established on the crest of a mountain near Leighton, AL. Initially there were about 400 inhabitants.

. . . On January 11, 1830, “LaGrange College” opened with an enrollment of 70 students, becoming the first state chartered college in Alabama. Rev. Robert Paine was the first president (1830-1846).

The enrollment peaked at 139 in 1845. Dr. Richard H. Rivers became president in 1854, when the college faced serious financial problems. In response to an offer of better support, Rivers moved the college to Florence, Alabama in January 1855. . . The move to Florence was controversial, some students and faculty remained at the former campus, and the Florence institution was denied permission to use the name of LaGrange College. It was chartered as Florence Wesleyan University on February 14, 1856, and is known today as the University of North Alabama.

LaGrange Military Academy 1857-1862

After LaGrange College moved to Florence in January 1855, a group of LaGrange citizens reorganized the college in the vacant buildings under the old name. . . To increase the patronage, a military feature was introduced in 1857. . . The college reopened in February 1858, as LaGrange College and Military Academy. The new institution’s financial situation was dismal until the State of Alabama provided military equipment and scholarships. The Academy soon flourished and became known as the “West Point of the South.” In 1860, the name was changed to LaGrange Military Academy. By 1861, the enrollment was almost 200 cadets. During its existence, 259 cadets from nine states attended the Academy.

In 1861, many LaGrange cadets left to join the Confederate Army. Consequently, the Academy was forced to suspend classes on March 1, 1862. Only two cadets had graduated . . . On April 28, 1863, the 10th Missouri Calvary of the Union Army, known as the “Destroying Angels,” commanded by Col. Florence M. Cornyn, burned the Military Academy, the nearby La Fayette Female Academy, many businesses, and homes. . .

UNA has carried the thought forward and they have a beautiful university that we can all be proud of.

However, it is my educated guess that LaGrange College died when it was destroyed by the federal troops.

I consider this the end of this 1830 quest. Move the date of UNA’s inception forward to the rightful choice of Wesleyan which was in 1856.

Joe Fairer

Muscle Shoals