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W. D. Carnes Letter

Identifier: MS-2250

  • Staff Only

In a March 23, 1861 letter from Franklin College (Franklin, Tenn.), W. D. Carnes writes to his children of occurrences at the school, including an illness that is affecting many of the students. He also speaks of difficulties faced in raising money, but says that the agents will commence to raise subscriptions as soon as things become a little more calm.

In addition to news of family friends and students, Carnes also tells of ways in which the school is being affected by the impending Civil War. He states that "three of our students took a stampede and left a day or two ago. They were violent Secessionists and left because Tennessee would not secede. They were from Georgia - [They] said that they did not want to stay in a state that would submit to abolition rule."


  • 1861 March 23

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In a March 23, 1861 letter to his children, W. D. Carnes, then president of Franklin College in Franklin, Tenn., writes of an illness sweeping through the school, fundraising activities, and news of three students who were violent Secessionists leaving the school.

Biographical/Historical Note

Born October 23, 1805 in Lancaster County, S.C., William Davis Carnes joined the ministry in the Christian Church in 1824. After marrying Elizabeth Billingsley in 1825, Davis moved to Smyrna, Tenn., where he became involved in education. In the 1840s, he moved to Knoxville to take courses at the University of Tennessee, and, after graduation, he was hired as an English language and literature professor. After an illness in 1847 forced him to resign his position and return to Smyrna, he returned to education as president of Burritt College in Spencer, Tenn. in 1850. In 1858, he returned to Knoxville as president of the University of Tennessee, serving in this capacity until his wife's death in 1859. Around 1860, Carnes was named president of Franklin College, a Christian Church school in Franklin, Tenn., founded by Tolbert Fanning. After only a year, however, the college was closed on account of the Civil War. In 1866 with the reopening of the area's schools, Carnes returned to Burritt College, where he remained until he became ill in 1879. At that time, he returned to Spencer, where he died on November 26, 1879.


Collection consists of a single folder.

Acquisition Note

Collection was donated to Special Collections in March 1995.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA