Joseph Henry Fussell

1836 - 1915

Cumberland Presbyterian Elder

Moderator of 80th General Assembly
May 19-24, 1910 - Dickson, Tennessee


Prominent Lawyer, Citizen and Soldier Succumbs at the Age of Seventy-Nine Years.

Capt. Joseph H. Fussell, seventy-nine years old, one of the most prominent citizens of Tennessee, and a man who had achieved distinction as a lawyer, a soldier and a churchman, died at his home in Columbia Thursday evening, November 4, at 7 o'clock. While he had not been in robust heatlh for a year or two, his illness only became serious last week. Acute eczema was the cause of his death.

Captian Fussell was born in Maury County in January, 1836, and failed by two months of living out four score years. He is survived by his wife and a number of nieces and nephews. The funeral services will be held at his home in Columbia this afternoon at 2 o'clock, with the burial at Rose Hill cemetery in Columbia.

Rev. J. L. Hudgins, Rev. B. J. Reagen, Rev. W. H. McCleskey, [sic: McLeskey] Rev. J. R. Goodpasture and Rev. A. N. Eshman of Nashville attended the funeral.

Captain Fussell was a member of Forrest's cavalry, entering the war as a private, and rising to command a company of these famous soldiers of the Confederacy.

From 1870 to 1886 he was the attorney-general of the district now designated as the Eleventh circuit, and no public officer ever discharged duties with more courage, fidelity and ability.

In 1882 he was nominated by the "Sky blue" faction of the democratic party as its candidate for governor. In 1898 he was a candidate for judge of the Eleventh circuit.

In 1890 Captain Fussell, who had been an ardent advocate of prohibition or temperance, as it was termed then, was nominated for congress by a coalition of temperance supporters and the republicans. In 1908 he was the regular democratic nominee for state senator in the Twentieth senatorial district.

Captain Fussell was one of the pioneer advocates of prohibition in Tennessee and was for many years acknowledged its ablest representative in public life in the state.

As a churchman Captain Fussell was always active and prominent in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. He was a member of the Board of Publication, and Stated Clerk of the Tennessee Synod. When dissensions arose in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1903 and 1906, he declared in no uncertain tones a determination to remain a Cumberland Presbyterian. At the now famous Fresno conference he won distinction by his able and eloquent presentation of his side of the controversy.

In 1910 he was unanimously elected moderator of the General Assembly which convened at Dickson, Tenn., where the Cumberland Presbyterian Church had been organized a hundred years before.

Captain Fussell was a notable figure at all gatherings, reunions, conventions and assemblies, striking in formal attire and with long, flowing hair that gave him distinction. In manner he always was courteous and genial.--Tennessean and American.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, November 11, 1915, page 2]

Little Known Hero Of the C. P. Church


THE FUSSELL BIBLE--Looking over the family Bible of the late Joe H. Fussell are, left to right: Rev. Burns P. Drake, pastor of the Cumberland Presbyterian church at Columbia, Tennessee, and T. M. Ellette, senior elder of the church, who knew Mr. Fussell.

The marble plaque on the wall was moved from the old Columbia church to the new one which was recently erected. The caption on the plaque reads: "In memory of Captain Joseph H. Fussell who devoted his last days helping to save the Cumberland Presbyterian doctrine and erected this church, A.D. 1900."

The Bible is a possession of the church library.


"Somewhere in the sunlight of God's love the Cumberland Presbyterian church will live on."

This prophetic statement which has become famous in the Cumberland Presbyterian church during the last half-century has made noteworthy the name of Judge Joseph H. Fussell. Otherwise Judge Fussell is little known in the church.

Mr. Fussell was an elder and a longtime leader of the Cumberland Presbyterian church at Columbia, Tennessee. His old family Bible in in the church library and marble plaque in a hallway is a memorial to him. The plaque reads, "In memory of Captain Joseph H. Fussell, who devoted his last days helping to save Cumberland Presbyterian doctrine and erecting this church. A.D. 1900." Mr. Fussell was a lawyer and served as a judge in Maury County with distinction and honor for many years.

He was a captain in the Confederate Army.

His fame in the Cumberland Presbyterian church is connected with the union of 1906 when he was a leader of the reorganization of the denomination.

He was a commissioner to the Decatur (Ill.) Assembly of 1906 and when a report was presented which contemplated the adjournment of the Cumberland Presbyterian General Assembly "Sine Die." Through his leadership, 100 commissioners entered a protest to the action. When they could receive no satisfaction to their point of view, they left the meeting and with a total of 106 commissioners, in another building, they reorganized as "a separate General Assembly."

It was at this historic meeting that Judge Fussell made his famous statement about the Cumberland Presbyterian church living on.

At this meeting, plans were made to hold the 1907 General Assembly at the church birthplace in Dickson County, Tennessee.

At the General Assembly meeting in 1910, also at the birthplace at Dickson, Tennessee, he was elected moderator.

In the Columbia church he was an active elder, superintendent of the Sunday school, and a teacher.

Some of the members of the church who are living today and were children in the church while he was living remember with interest his lectures every Sunday. He is remembered especially for his kindness to children and always spoke in terms that they could understand.

Along with his busy life, his hobby was birds. Being a lover of birds he had a special birdhouse at his home where he had many different species of birds. He delighted in having children come to his house to see his birds.

Judge Fussell died November 4, 1915. But his influence lives on as he, more than any other person, is responsible for the continuation of the Cumberland Presbyterian church at a decisive point in its history. No doubt the great spirit and influence which he exerted has helped to provide the foundation stones of faith on which the Cumberland Presbyterian church at Columbia, Tennessee today with its fine congregation and beautiful new church plant is builded. The faith and affection of the congregation is reflected in its memory of him and of its cherished pride in an old family Bible which has this inscription on the inside: "Property of Joe H. Fussell, 1873, Columbia, Tennessee.--CRD
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, November 22, 1960, page 11]



Fussell, Margaret Roberts. The Life of Capt. Joe H. Fussell. Nashville, Tenn., Cumberland Press, 1916


Rose Hill Cemetery
Columbia, Maury County, Tennessee

Fussell Family Information

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Updated September 28, 2009