Kowaliga School

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Kowaliga School
Kowaliga Academy and Industrial Institute campus building, c. 1913 – c. 1916
Kowaliga, Alabama, U.S
Former namesKowaliga Academy and Industrial Institute,
Kowaliga Academic and Industrial Institute,
Kowaliga Industrial School,
Kowaliga Institute
Establishedc. 1895
FoundersWilliam E. Benson
Closedc. 1925
PresidentWilliam E. Benson

Kowaliga School was an industrial school for African American students in Kowaliga, Alabama, U.S..[1][2][3][4] The school was founded on 10 acres (4.0 ha) of John Jackson Benson's farmland, by his son William E. Benson.[2] The creation of the school informed the creation of the unincorporated village of Kowaliga. The school has also been named the Kowaliga Academy and Industrial Institute, Kowaliga Academic and Industrial Institute, Kowaliga Industrial School, and the Kowaliga Institute. During the era of segregation in the United States, African Americans were mostly restricted from attending schools, public venues, and public transportation with white people.


General view of Kowaliga Academic and Industrial Institute
General view of Kowaliga Academic and Industrial Institute

The goal in the school creation was for rural students to eventually find industrial work with their new experiences, or alternatively create an educational foundation for these students in order to continue their education at other institutions afterwards.[4] The Kowaliga Academy and Industrial Institute was established in roughly 1895, the first building cornerstone was laid on August 1896, and the school was incorporated in c. 1898.[4][5][6]

In 1900, William E. Benson serving as the founding president added to the Dixie Industrial Company, an industry centered company designed to put his former students to work locally. The company initially included a modern sawmill, a large turpentine distillery, and a cotton ginnery. The Dixie Industrial Company farming was spread over 10,000 acres. The Dixie Industrial Company closed in 1916.[7]

The school operated for over 30 years and educated hundreds of children, and eventually closed around 1925.[5]


  1. ^ Hartshorn, W. N.; Penniman, George W., eds. (1910). An Era of Progress and Promise: 1863–1910. Boston, MA: Priscilla Pub. Co. p. 153. OCLC 5343815.
  2. ^ a b Morris, Bilal G. (February 14, 2022). "The Black Town Under Lake Martin: A Father & Son's Dream Of Greatness". NewsOne. Retrieved March 4, 2023.
  3. ^ Bailey, Richard (1999). They Too Call Alabama Home: African American Profiles, 1800-1999. Pyramid Pub. pp. 37, 429. ISBN 978-0-9671883-0-0.
  4. ^ a b c Owen, Thomas McAdory (1921). History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography. S. J. Clarke publishing Company. pp. 822, 828.
  5. ^ a b Sznajderman, Michael; Atkins, Leah Rawls (Spring 2005). "William Benson and the Kowaliga School". Alabama Heritage. No. 76. The University of Alabama.
  6. ^ Walls, Peggy Jackson (July 19, 2021). Lost Towns of Central Alabama. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9781439673058 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ Hedreen, Siri (April 28, 2021). "Timeline: The rise and fall of Benson". Alexander City Outlook (article and image carousel). Retrieved March 6, 2023.