Echola School

Echola School.jpg


Echola School




The Echola School was located at the intersection of Echola and Upper Columbus Roads in the community of Echola in northwest Tuscaloosa County, Alabama..

The community was settled about 1828 and was a prosperous farming area before the Civil War. Many pioneer families that settled in the area operated extensive cotton farms, some with slave labor. Cotton became the first product for commerce from the area.

During the years before 1860 and in the early years of the 1900s, beautiful farms and farm homes were built in the area.

There were several cotton gins in Echola operated by water power or by oxen and horse power. Cotton bales were marketed in Northport, Alabama, usually hauled in oxen wagons. Years later, the cotton was carried to Northport, Gordo and Moores Bridge to be ginned.

When cotton was no longer “king,” farmers grew vegetables and dairy cattle; much of the cotton land was used to produce timber for the market. More recently, chicken houses have become prevalent in the area.

Many Indian artifacts have been found in the area around the Sipsey River, Dunn’s Creek and Cleveland Creek; it is certain that the area was home to large Indian communities.

There were several one-room schools around the Echola area. Highland, Sardis, Cleveland and Dunn’s Creek were some of them. In these schools, all ages were taught by one teacher. The students went to school for a few days after the crops were laid by but the school recessed when students were needed to help with the planting and harvesting. The children might go to school for only 3 to 4 months a year, some of them older than the teacher.

People of these communities got together to develop a consolidated school so that the students could get a better education. Community members pledged and donated money and a five-room school was built on donated land near the intersection of Echola and Upper Columbus roads. It was completed in the 1921-22 school year and had ten grades taught by five teachers. The school is shown in the photograph above. Those who wanted to graduate had to transfer to Tuscaloosa County High School or Gordo High School. Eventually used as only an elementary school for several years, the Echola School closed in 1950. The building was purchased by the community and used as a community center for many years. The long-time landmark was severely damaged by a fire in 2010 and had to be demolished.

Golden Mayfield was postmaster at Echola in 1903 when the area was named Elbert. There was another post office in Alabama named Elbert and confusion resulted, so Echola became the official name of the area and the post office.

Julia Pearson followed her father and was postmistress at the Echola Post Office for 50 years. She and her husband operated a small store where the post office was located. She turned the job over to her daughter-in law, Bernice Pearson, who in turn, turned the post office/general store over to her daughter Beth Branyon. The post office and the store are now closed, though the building still stands.

Dunn’s Creek Baptist Church was established in 1834 and is still serving the Echola community. Though there have been other churches in the Echola area during the past 100 years, Dunn’s Creek remained the most active.


Friends of Historic Northport


Betty Slowe (Description)






Tuscaloosa County (AL)

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