History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church (McDonnold)
B. W. McDonnold’s History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church is one of the best loved and most requested titles in Cumberland Presbyterian literature. First published in 1888, this has long been one of the most cherished and sought after books about the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Originally, there were four editions of the book from 1888 until about 1942, and as far as has yet been determined all of the original editions are textually identical. It is likely that the final copies sold were part of the 1899 fourth edition but from a printing made after 1910.
With no more "new" copies available for sale, existing copies of "McDonnold" (as it had become reverently known) became family heirlooms, handed down from generation to generation. On the rare occasion sound copies entered the used and collectible book market they could command prices of $100 or more.
For many years we wanted to make an inexpensive edition available, and the 200th anniversary of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church seemed ideal for this dream to be fulfilled. The current printing was reproduced from the fourth edition as it originally appeared in 1899. The decision to reproduce the book from an extant copy was not arrived at lightly; we hoped the entire text could be reset and properly indexed, but this turned out to be a labor intensive process that would have pushed publication past the 200th anniversary celebration of the denomination.
This is the only authorized edition of this book!
Benjamin Wilburn McDonnold, D.D., LL.D. (March 24, 1827- February 27, 1889) was a Cumberland Presbyterian minister, writer and educator. He was the third president of Cumberland University, and wrote the History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
McDonnold was born in Overton County, Tennessee, and raised on a farm. He exhibited a strong religious turn of mind from a young age, likely inspired by his mother, Martha. He began preparing to become a minister at age 12, attaining candidacy at age 16. Around this time, it is said that he memorized and could recite the entire New Testament.
He attended college at Cumberland College in Princeton, Kentucky, graduating in 1849. He then became Professor of Mathematics at Bethel Seminary, and later at Bethel College. When the college closed during the Civil War he became pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Lebanon, Tennessee, and for a time a chaplain in the Confederate army.
After the war, McDonnold accepted a position to teach at the re-opened Cumberland University. Near the end of 1866 he was named the third President of the University, taking over for recently named President Anderson, who resigned due to poor health. This was a very difficult time for the school, which had virtually no money, buildings or students remaining after the war.
McDonnold's hard work alongside the trustees helped the school to re-establish itself, and by 1870-71, 335 students were attending the University.
In failing health, McDonnold resigned the presidency in 1873. After a time of rest his health returned, and he spent time evangelizing in such places as Texas, California and Pennsylvania. He was requested by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church Board of Publication to write the History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, which he did. He died at his home in Lebanon, Tennessee on February 27, 1889 (age 62).