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During the Reconstruction Period following the Civil War, a freedmen's community was established in this area called Averyville, named for the Pennsylvania minister and successful businessman Charles Avery, a longtime and faithful champion of Negro education. Wilmer Walton, a Quaker missionary, moved to Stevenson and Averyville as early as 1865, opening a school financed by the Quaker "Friends' Association for Aid and Elevation of the Freedmen". Soon, some seventy-five students, both adults and children, were enrolled in Walton's school. Another teacher and Quaker missionary, Henrietta Starkweather, succeeded Wilmer Walton at Averyville. This noble and pioneering effort to educate freedmen was short-lived; Ku Klux Klan violence, threats, and intimidation drove the teachers away by the early 1870s, and the school closed.
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Averyville School's most notable student was William Hooper Councill (1848-1909), a former slave brought to Alabama in 1857. He attended Averyville School as a freedman, becoming a teacher himself by the end of his third year here. He moved to Huntsville in 1869 and opened the Lincoln Normal School to train black teachers. In 1873, Dr. Councill founded Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical
University, using funds appropriated by the Alabama Legislature to train black teachers. Dr. Councill rose to state and national prominence, becoming an influential leader alongside Booker T. Washington and others. His only formal education was here at the Freedman's School at Averyville. Here the seeds of learning were planted which grew into Alabama A&M University, educating thousands of students to this day.