About Our College
In 1841, Samford University was founded as Howard College in Marion, Alabama. Some of the land was donated by Reverend James H. DeVotie, who served on the Samford Board of Trustees for fifteen years and as its president for two years. The first financial gift, $4,000, was given by Julia Tarrant Barron and both she and her son also gave land to establish the college. The university was established after the Alabama Baptist State Convention decided to build a school for men in Perry County, Alabama. The college's first nine students began studies in January 1842 with a traditional curriculum of language, literature and sciences. In those early years the graduation addresses of several distinguished speakers were published, including those by Thomas G. Keen of Mobile, Joseph Walters Taylor, Noah K. Davis and Samuel Sterling Sherman. In October 1854, a fire destroyed all of the college's property, including its only building. While the college recovered from the fire, the Civil War began. Howard College was converted to a military hospital by the Confederate government in 1863. During this time, the college's remaining faculty offered basic instruction to soldiers recovering at the hospital. For a short period after the war, federal troops occupied the college and sheltered freed slaves on its campus.