Established 1881 under leadership of Dr. John Van Epps Covey, founder of three Texas colleges--aided here by civic leaders S. F. Dixon, Dr. M. W. C. Frazier, C. F. H. Hiers, R. W. Johnson, M. F. Lowe and L. Wheeler. A 3-acre site was bought from James Lowe, and S. D. Frazier constructed the building. Funds were raised by subscription to defray initial costs. Dr. Covey, his wife, and the Rev. Woodlief Thomas were teachers during the first year. Accommodations were planned for 100 students. The curriculum included spelling, mathematics, geography, surveying, bookkeeping, logic, history, reading, Latin, other liberal arts courses.
In September 1897, after 16 years of service, the college ended its career. Its building was turned over to the trustees of the newly-organized Tilden School District, and used as a public school until January 1926, when a new structure replaced it. Texas had numerous early schools with similar histories. Like McMullen College, these were founded by dedicated civic groups eager to see that young Texans were offered sound education. Most of these small local colleges had primitive facilities and endured repeated financial crises, but they held to ideals they were never able to attain.