Charles Allen Stillman, 1819-1895



Charles Allen Stillman, 1819-1895


Stillman College (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)


Charles Allen Stillman was a minister at the First Presbyterian Church in Tuscaloosa, who founded Tuscaloosa Institute in 1876. The Institute became Stillman College.

Initially, the college focused almost exclusively on training blacks for the Presbyterian ministry, but soon after opening the institute, Stillman realized that the college needed a strong academic program to prepare black theology students with poor educational backgrounds to study theology. From that realization grew an academic division that provided elementary, high school and junior college education for blacks. The Presbyterian Church converted Stillman to a four-year baccalaureate-degree-granting college around 1948, long after Stillman's death.

Charles was born in Charleston, South Carolina to James S. and Mary Stillman on March 14, 1819. He attended Oglethorpe University in Georgia and received his degree in 1841. He then received his divinity degree from Columbia Theological Seminary in 1844 and proceeded to be licensed by Charleston Presbytery later that year. The Second Presbyterian Church of Charleston provided the opportunity for Charles to exercise his ministerial gifts until 1845. In 1845 he was ordained by Tuscaloosa Presbytery to receive a call to the Presbyterian Church in Eutaw, Alabama where he served until 1853. Remaining in Alabama, Rev. Stillman received a call to be the pastor of the Gainesville church where he ministered until 1870. It was in 1863, while he was at Gainesville, that Charles received the Doctor of Divinity degree from the University of Alabama. Dr. Stillman's next call was to the Presbyterian Church at Tuscaloosa where he began his longest ministry in 1870 and continued there until his death on January 23, 1895.

Dr. Stillman's non-pastoral ministerial efforts were many. He was the Chairman of Tuscaloosa Presbytery's Home Missions Committee. From 1847 until 1884 he served as the Stated Clerk of Tuscaloosa Presbytery. One of his most significant achievements was when a group of Tuscaloosa Presbyterians, headed by Dr. Stillman, presented an overture to the 1875 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States concerning a training school for Black ministers. The 1876 General Assembly followed the recommendation of its specially appointed committee and authorized establishing the Institute for Training Colored Ministers at Tuscaloosa. In the fall of 1876. Charles Stillman taught its first classes. The Institute came to be named the Stillman Institute in honor of its devoted founder who served as its superintendent from its founding until his death. The curriculum and nature of its educational program has changed over the years and it is known today as Stillman College.

Stillman was inducted into the Tuscaloosa County Civic Hall of Fame in 2001, the first year of the award that was designed to honor citizens who had made long-term, significant contributions to the development of the county while at the same time celebrating the community's history and heritage.

(Some information from The Southern Presbyterian Review, 2003)


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