Beulah Rucker

Beulah Rucker Oliver (1888-1963) was one of eight children born to, Caroline Wiley and Willis Rucker, in Banks County, Georgia. Her parents grew up during slavery, and they were not allowed to be educated. At age 5, Ms. Rucker knew that she wanted to be a teacher, and she devoted her life to that desire. She learned the alphabet by studying the newspapers that were plastered on the walls of her home for warmth. The first school Ms. Rucker attended, Neal’s Grove, was taught in a small wooden church in Banks County. In Athens, Georgia, she attended Jeruel High School and Knox Institute. Before attending school each morning, she earned her room and board by milking cows and cleaning the principal’s home.

In 1909, during her senior year at Knox Institute, she began to have dreams and visions of establishing a school for her race. During a time when many schools did not allow black students to attend, Beulah Rucker Oliver purchased a site near the Southern Railroad Crossing in downtown Gainesville and she established the Industrial School. Later, Ms. Rucker purchased a Hall County site for the school. Many of the building materials were salvaged, including lumber from Confederate General James E. Longstreet's Piedmont Hotel. The Rucker Industrial School also trained many area brick masons, and her students made the bricks that were used to construct some of the buildings on the site.

In 1944, at the age of 56, Ms. Rucker received her college degree from Savannah State College.

In 1951, she started the first veterans’ night school in Georgia for African Americans. The school to helped veterans, especially those returning from the Korean War, obtain their GEDs. In 1958, government regulations required all county and city schools to consolidate, and The Rucker Industrial School closed.

In 1953, Mrs. Beulah Rucker Oliver wrote her autobiography, The Rugged Path.