History of the Restoration Movement

Clifford Paul Roland


C. P. ROLAND was born to Isaac N. Roland and Mary Margaret Roland on July 4, 1893 at Essary Springs, Hardeman County, Tennessee. Attended the Public school there until 1910 when he came to Freed-Hardeman College, then National Teacher's Normal and Business College. After completing the Scientific Course in 1913, he taught school at Sardis, Tennessee as principal for two years. He went to West Tennessee Normal, now Memphis State University in 1915 and graduated there in 1916.

After teaching in Crockett County as principal of Maury City High School for five years he moved to Henderson to work in Freed-Hardeman College in 1921, where he has been since that time as Business Manager, Dean, and Vice-President. He now teaches two days each week in the Bible Department and is connected with the Public Affairs Committee.

He obtained the B.S. degree from Union University in 1923. Took a leave absence in 1928 to attend Vanderbilt University from which he received the M.A. degree in 1931. His thesis is a History of the Disciples of Christ in Tennessee to 1850. During all the years from 1921 to the present, he has been preaching the gospel in a great number of states.

Since 1940 he has served as an elder in the Henderson church of Christ.

He married Grace Paysinger in 1916 and to this union, five children were born. Dr. Charles P. Roland, Lexington, Kentucky, Dr. Hall C. Roland, U.T. Knoxville, Tenn., Mrs. J. W. Riddick, Maury City, Tenn., Grady Paul Roland and Isaac Nelms Roland, both business men in Jackson, Tennessee, 19 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.

Teacher, Gospel Preacher & Faculty Member For Freed-Hardeman University, Henderson, Tennessee.

C. P. and Grace Roland: A History and Example of Service

Freed-Hardeman University has an established tradition of rewarding its own. Whether this is as uninvolved as simple recognition or as magnanimous as the dedication of a campus building, those who make a contribution to the University are rewarded their due. C. P. Roland and his wife Grace stand as foremost examples of service to Freed-Hardeman University. To have a dormitory, a prestigious scholarship award, an historical collection, and a lecture series named in their honor is just a small indication of the approximately sixty years of service the Rolands have rendered to Freed-Hardeman University. The qualities of these two devoted Christians are indicated in an examination of the history of both their personal life and their life with Freed-Hardeman University.

In her memoirs, Walking Down Memory Lane: 1896-1981, Grace P. Roland cites her son's, Charles P. Roland's, own genealogical research on the history of his father's family: Clifford Paul Roland was born to Isaac N. and Mary (Nelms) Roland on 4 July 1893. I. N. Roland hailed from Middleton, Tennessee, where his father had orphaned him at age twelve, leaving him with a blind mother to support. Mary (Nelms) Roland descended from a prosperous cotton plantation family in North Mississippi. Their backgrounds could not have been more different. Roland states that his grandmother Nelms's family members were "progressive citizens" who were dedicated to both secular and religious education. When the Nelms family wished to begin a new school in Essary Springs, Tennessee, they engaged A. G. Freed to be schoolmaster. He accepted and A. G. Freed first began his work in the West Tennessee area (78-9). This seeming attraction of opposites in the Roland parents produced a happy combination of qualities in their children.

After being set such a strong example in excellence by his parents, C. P. Roland attended the school Freed had begun, and graduated from it in 1910 to enter the National Teachers' Normal and Business College (now Freed-Hardeman University) at Henderson, Tennessee. According to a statement presented at the Appreciation Dinner presented in honor of the Rolands in February 1969, Roland graduated from the Scientific Class of National Teachers' Normal and Business College in 1913. He then pursued further education at West Tennessee Normal Junior College (now the University of Memphis) in Memphis, Tennessee, leaving in 1916. Roland finally achieved the Bachelor of Science degree at Union College (now University) in 1923. Roland's highest degree, the Master of Arts, was obtained from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee in 1931 (F-HC and Predecessors).

Grace Paysinger Roland was born on 17 August 1896 in McNairy County, Tennessee near the town of Cypress. Her parents, Burton W. and Martha (Hurley) Paysinger were a hardworking farm family with little formal education (Roland 2-4). With only a few months of schooling a year, "Pa Paysinger" was a man who "could read and understand all kinds of material, from ordinary newspaper to law books and the Bible" (Roland 3). This example of self-education made a lasting impression on his daughter Grace. Emphasis on the work ethic is a strong impression one gets from reading Grace Roland's memoirs.

Grace Roland did achieve a higher level of formal education than her parents did. Although she recounts a relatively small amount of it in her memoirs, Grace did go on to obtain a first grade teaching license in the state of Tennessee at the age of sixteen. Ruefully, Grace remarks that, "I was on cloud nine for I thought I had it made until the authorities in Nashville passed a decree that any teacher must be 18 years old" (Roland 83). Fortunately, however, this rule allowed Grace to continue her education for another two years. She then taught at various area schools until her marriage to C. P. Roland on 30 July 1916. This experience, she comically remarks, gave her experience in how to handle bad boys (Roland 85)

In between his own personal educational pursuits, C. P. Roland was a schoolteacher. Following in the footsteps of his educationally "progressive" ancestors, Roland became teacher and principal in the Crockett, Hardeman, and Maury County school systems. For Roland, summers (1910-12) were spent in Hardeman County, Tennessee teaching terms. He accepted the principalship of Sardis High School in 1913, and assumed the principalship of Maury County High School in 1912, where he remained as principal and teacher until finishing his school at Union College in 1923.

C. P. Roland and Grace Paysinger met in 1905, when he was twelve and she was nine. Grace Roland does comment that her aunt talked her parents into moving the family to Essary Springs from McNairy County for the purpose of attending A. G. Freed's school. Of her first meeting with Roland, Grace says, “We arrived [in Essary Springs] about the middle of the afternoon and unloaded the wagons. It was too late for the men to return that afternoon so Papa took Grady and me up to look around the school building. That is where I met my 'Waterloo' in the form of C. P. Roland (42).”

Roland and Grace continued their acquaintance during her years at the school his father had assumed the leadership of. In the early twentieth-century, adults strictly supervised courtship. The Rolands were no exception. Grace Roland's memoirs offer two very touching tributes to their courtship and marriage:

“C. P. grew more handsome with the years and about the time he was 16 years old, he really looked good and kept himself well-groomed so he was in demand as an escort to the social functions. [. . .] I was not old enough to have dates and had not so much as thought of him as a possible boy friend until he had a mutual girl friend arrange for him to walk home with me from a debate at the school building one night. This began a six year courtship which ended in marriage on July 30, 1916 (Roland 44-5)."

“In 1911 or 12, while C. P. was in school at National Teachers' Normal and Business College he contracted measles. [. . .] During that time, Valentine's Day came and since he had a severe case of measles, he was pretty blue, at least Aunt Myrtle told me he was. I was fairly upset to think he was so far away and sick so I hunted until I found a real pretty card and mailed it to him. He told the children and grandchildren on the night of our 60w~ed ding anniversary that it was the prettiest one he has ever seen until the present and that was one thing that caused him to marry me as soon as I became old enough to marry (Roland 58-9).”

The Rolands' marriage produced five children-four sons and one daughter. At the time these children were beginning to attend school, Freed-Hardeman College supported a primary and secondary school, besides the two years of college work. All of the Roland children- Charles, Paul, Josephine, Mack, and Ike-began their work here, with Charles completing his first two years of college here. The Rolands' only daughter, Josephine Roland Riddick, delivered a lecture in which she described the details of her parents' lives. In this lecture, Riddick commented on the fact that between the five children of C. P. and Grace Roland there are two Doctor of Philosophy degrees, and multiple masters' and bachelors' degrees compelling evidence of the Rolands' priorities concerning their children's education. All four Roland sons have military experience and patriotic service to their country on their records, having served in the Army, Navy, and Air Force in both World War Two and Korea (Roland 143-5).

In their many long years of service to what is now Freed-Hardeman University, C. P. and Grace Roland have held a variety of positions. The Rolands first came to Freed-Hardeman in 1923 after Roland received an invitation to be Dean of the school. He took a leave of absence from his duties to pursue master's degree studies at Vanderbilt University from 1928-9 and preach for the Donelson Church of Christ in Donelson, Tennessee. After returning to Freed-Hardeman in 1929, Roland was named Business Manager and Director of Public Relations (F-HC and Predecessors).

Shortly after coming into this responsibility, the Great Depression caused a worldwide financial crisis. Freed-Hardeman, although located in a recently impoverished South, could not escape the ramifications of such a crisis. There were students who could still afford to come to school, however they must be fed, sheltered, and supplied with the tools for an education. To alleviate the Depression's strain on students and school alike, Roland instituted a plan that would allow students to pay for their education by providing the school with crops, livestock, and physical service. Roland was known for his strong capacity for the sciences, natural and physical; with the help of some of the students of these years, he made improvements around campus and his home that benefited the running of the school (Riddick). Roland's daughter particularly remembered his innovative agricultural equipment that allowed his own farm to be a model of productivity and assist the school in the management of its livestock resources (Riddick).

Besides his many administrative duties that included another term as dean and an eight-year term as vice-president, Roland continued to teach classes and preach at area congregations of the Lord's Church. In the classroom, Roland was known an exceptional scholar in the natural and physical sciences, business, and biblical studies. Roland played a significant role in the creation of the first biology and chemistry laboratories on campus (Riddick). The Rolands created the Historical Room, named in their honor and currently maintained by Mrs. Marilynn Tollerson. His biblical specialties included Paul's epistles and Old Testament studies with specialization in the Pentateuch (F-HC and Predecessors). Roland was a frequent contributor to the Gospel Advocate and the Voice of Freedom.

His popularity as a public speaker ensured his contribution to many local school functions and characterized the more than fifty years spent in ministry. Roland traveled across the Midwest and the South preaching, speaking, and conducting classes and lecture series at various congregations. To congregations and community, the Roland family was "engaging with their smart, attractive, and energetic personalities" (Riddick). The support of his wife and children is made evident by Grace Roland's statement, "[Mrs. Roland and Josephine were both very ill on two separate occasions.] That was the second and last time we ever had to call him to come home during all the more than 50 years of preaching (Roland 120)." While Roland was teaching, preaching, and going to school, Grace Roland raised a family of five. Grace also served as cook and supervisor for the first group of women to occupy the first campus dormitory for women, then known as Oakland Hall, now Hall-Roland Hall.

As the years quickly passed the Rolands did not slow down their involvement in the affairs of the Freed-Hardeman. After Roland's term as vice-president ended in 1964, he continued to teach until the close of the 1975-6 term. Upon his retirement he was presented a plaque by his Bible class, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy (Roland 180). That spring, Roland participated in the 1976 Walkathon, beginning in Henderson and ending in Jackson, Tennessee. Quite an impressive feat for a man in his eighties, which he attributed to a life dedicated to hard work and physical upkeep. Roland won two trophies for this, as the oldest walker, and as the most successful fundraiser (Roland 181).

Originally named for the imposing oaks that grew around it, the first women's dormitory once called Oakland Hall is now known as Hall-Roland Hall. Hall-Roland Hall was dedicated at Homecoming ceremonies of 27 November 1958 to honor the long, faithful service of W. Claude Hall and C. P. Roland (F-HU Catalog 13). Also named in their honor is a prestigious scholarship awarded to the incoming freshman with the highest education and leadership qualifications-two qualities the Rolands held in highest esteem. The Historical Room at Freed- Hardeman was begun by the Rolands and named in their honor. Furthermore, a lecture series is hosted every spring, named in honor of the Roland family. On this night, a member of the extensive Roland family offers the keynote speech. Past lectures have included topics as diverse as the Civil War, English language usage, and family history.

It is a mistaken assumption among many that, in order to be of service to an organization, one must be able to make significant financial contributions. If one were to place a monetary context on time, energy, patience, and prayer, it would be easy to prove that the involvement of the Roland family could easily equal that of Paul Gray, the Loden family, or others that have made significant financial contributions to the school over its long history. And the Roland family has made financial contributions to the school. But their contributions-business management, classroom instruction, foresight, and good ambassadorship-have made an impression on the university that a merely financial donation cannot. The Rolands' faithful service to Freed-Hardeman University's predecessors have helped to shape the university's present and future. At the Appreciation Dinner honoring the Rolands in February 1969, C. P. Roland quoted the poet Robert Browning in poignantly summing up the role his family has played in the tradition of Freed-Hardeman:

Grow old along with me,
The best is yet to be.
The last of life for which the first was made (qtd in Roland 180).

Works Cited

Freed-Hardeman College and its Predecessors: 1889-1919. Compilation. Historical Room of Freed-Hardeman University. Marilynn Tollerson, director.
Freed-Hardeman University Catalog. Henderson, TN, 1997.
Riddick, Josephine Roland. "A Partnership of Sixty-eight Years: C. P. and Grace Roland." Roland Lecture. Freed-Hardeman University. Henderson, Tennessee. 11 February 1997.
Roland, Grace Paysinger. Walking Down Memory's Lane: 1896-1981. N. p., N. pb., N. date.

Erin Adams
Honors Leadership, Service, and Philanthropy-HON 350
Mr. David Newberry
1 May 2000

Audio Of

C. P. Roland Appreciation Dinner - MP3
February 4, 1969-4:45 P.M.-7:30 P.M.

Song: '"My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less'' - Ike Roland
Invocation - G. K. Wallace
Dinner - Morrison Food Service
Dinner Music - Robert L. Witt
Plano Solo: "Sonate Pathe'tique" Opus 13 (Beethoven) - Mrs. J. W. Riddick
Emcee - W. A. Bradfield
C. P. Roland, Family Background - Charles Roland (5 min.)
C. P. Roland, Father and Husband - Paul Roland (5 min.)
C. P. Roland, Elder and Neighbor - E. D. Brigance (5 min.)
C. P. Roland, As I Have Known Him - E. R. Harper (5 min.)
C. P. Roland, Preacher and Personal Friend - Thomas E. Scott (5 min.)
C. P. Roland, Teacher and Christian Educator - E. Claude Gardner (5 min.)
C. P. Roland, Counselor and Advisor - H. A. Dixon (5 min.)
Board of Directors - K. T. Edwards (2 min.)
Alumni Association - James Meadows (2 min.)
President's Club - H. A. Dixon (2 min.)
F-HC Faculty and Students - Jess Wilcoxson (2 min.)
Former Students and Friends -Sims Kenner 12 min.)
Response - The Honoree (5 min.)
Song: "Bless Be the Tie That Binds" - John Bob Hall
Benediction - Mack Roland

Audio Interview on the history of Freed-Hardeman College -
See ROLAND on Audio Page

Directions To The Grave Of C. P. Roland

Clifford Paul Roland is buried in the City Cemetery at Henderson, Tennessee. From I-40 in West Tennessee, take the Hwy 45 exit south. Go through the city of Jackson, and continue south about 15 miles to Henderson. You will be on the bypass in Henderson. Go to you come to Hwy. 100. Turn left and go to the next stop. Turn left on North Church St.. Go about 100 yards and turn into the cemetery on the right. The road will "V." Take the left fork and go over the hill. As you begin to descend on the other side of the hill, the grave is off to the left. From the Barret Grave (next to an iron fenced grave) head back toward the rear of the cemetery a few rows. The Roland Family Plot will be right in front of the Freed Baby's grave.

GPS Coordinates
35°26'23.5"N 88°38'44.7"W
35.439855, -88.645748


June Hardin - June 26, 1932-
Isaace Nelms - November 25, 1929 - July 15, 2017

I.N. Roland
F-HC High School Teacher
Source: 1934 Treasure Chest

Maggie M - 1870-1960
Isaac N. 1867-1950

Isaac Nelms Roland
A2C US Air Force
November 25, 1929 - July 15, 2017
1739th Ferrying Squadron Mats

Grace Paysinger - August 17, 1896 - November 23, 1894
Clifford Paul - July 4, 1893 - December 11, 1985

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