"Tennessee Trails" through Bedford County

Bedford County TN Biographies


John B. Cummings, A. B. Since 1900 superintendent of schools in Gibson county, John B. Cummings has been serving well the state which has been the home of his family through three generations.

Marshall county, Tennessee, is the old home of the family, where Superintendent Cummings was born. November 26, 1851. He is a son of Captain Thomas £. Cummings, born in the same county, in 1828, and a grandson of John B. Cummings, a native of North Carolina, who came from that state and was one of the pioneers of Marshall county. Grandfather Cummings bought a tract of land about three and a half miles southeast of the present site of Belfast, and used his following of slaves to clear off the ground and put it in cultivation. That continued to be his home until his death at the age of seventy-five years. His second wife was the grandmother of the Gibson county superintendent, and her maiden name was Eunice Hunter. Her father, Robert Hunter, was a native of North Carolina, was a pioneer in Bedford county, Tennessee, and bought land in that portion of Bedford which has since been made a part of Marshall county. The grandmother survived her husband a few years.

Thomas E. Cummings, the father, was a boy when brought to Tennessee, was reared on a farm, and inherited a tract of land which had been part of his grandfather's estate, and on that place was a saw and grist mill on Rock Creek, and he conducted that milling enterprise in connection with his farm. In 1870 he moved to Gibson county buying two farms west of Dyer. In 1862 he enlisted in the Forty-Seventh Regiment of Tennessee Infantry, a part of Cheatham's Division, in which he was commissioned first lieutenant and later promoted to captain of his company. He was in some of the chief battles of the war, including Shiloh, where he was carried exhausted from the field; at Perryville, Chickamauga, Dallas, Resaca, Kenesaw Mountain and at Jonesboro; he lost his life on the battlefield and was buried there. Captain Cummings married Narcissa Amanda Smiley, who was born near Belfast in Marshall county, a daughter of Hugh Barnett Smiley, a pioneer of Marshall county, who had served under General Jackson in 1812, and was afterwards in the Seminole War in Florida. Hugh Smiley married a widow, Mrs. Sarah Lowrey, whose maiden name was Endsly. After the breaking out of the war the wife of Captain Cummings took her children to her father's home in Marshall county, and lived there during the remainder of the struggle between the states, after which she returned to Gibson county. After twenty-five years a widow, she again married and spent her last days in Dyer county, where she died at the age of eighty years. She reared three children named John B. Fanny F., and Thomas Knox.

Professor Cummings as a boy attended rural schools, and afterwards was a student in Union Academy in Marshall county and the Stonewall college in Robertson county. He afterwards sought higher educational advantages in the national Normal University at Lebanon, Ohio, and in Valparaiso University at Valparaiso, Indiana He was graduated from the latter institution with the degree of A. B. in 1882, and the same school afterwards gave him the degree of Doctor of Pedagogy. Previous to his graduation he had taught several terms, and has made education his life work. His first experience as a teacher was as an assistant in Bedford county, where for two months he received ten dollars a month. Afterwards he taught in different rural schools, and after graduating first taught in the Humboldt Normal Institute for two years. He was connected with the Brazil Academy, and a number of other schools until 1900, in which year he was elected superintendent of schools for Gibson county. He has been continued in office by re-election since that time, and has introduced many improvements to increase the efficiency of the educational system in this county. In 1883, Mr. Cummings married Nettie Thomas McAfee, a daughter of William J. and Jane Catherine (Barnett) McAfee. The five children of Mr. and Mrs. Cummings are: Heber Bryce, who graduated from Yale University in 1913; Willard Holmes, a graduate of the first class from the West Tennessee Normal School, being valedictorian of his class; Adda May, a graduate of Clinton high school, Fitzgerald Training School, the Southern Cnristian College at West Point, Mississippi, and now a student in the west Tennessee Normal. James Barnett and Nettie J. both students in the Peabody High School. The family are members of the Christian church.

A history of Tennessee and Tennesseans: the leaders and representative men in commerce, industry and modern activities. By Will T. Hale Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1913

CUNNINGHAM, Sumner Archibald
Journalist; born Bedford County, Tenn., July 21, 1843; Scotch-Irish descent; son of John Washington Campbell and Mary A. (Buchanan) Cunningham; educated at Richmond Academy, Bedford County, Tenn.; engaged in the merchandise business in early life; married Laura N. Davis November 27, 1866; he was a Confederate soldier, holding rank of Private Sergeant and Sergeant Major in the Forty-first Tennessee Regiment; founded the “Confederate Veteran” in 1893; since which time he has been owner and editor; he is a member of the Hermitage Club of Nashville, and a Cumberland Presbyterian.
Source: Who’s Who in Tennessee, Memphis: Paul & Douglass Co., Publishers, 1911; transcribed by Kim Mohler

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