Excelsior was the cultural center of Bulloch County in the late 1800s before it became part of Candler County. It was founded in 1875 on land donated by Jimerson Kennedy, Remer Franklin, W.W. Olliff, Dr. Jeff Williams, and John G. Jones. These founders desired to build a "good and permanent school" for their children, so they funded the construction of Excelsior Academy. It was built in a place thought of as the town square, surrounded by oak and pine trees. It attracted students from nearby areas who boarded with community members during the school term. Its teachers were often affiliated with the Baptist church in town. The town academy drew newcomers to Excelsior, which grew after its establishment.
The Excelsior News (1877) became the first newspaper in Bulloch County and also served people in neighboring areas. Olliff's General Store on the outskirts of town was another community staple. After nearby areas grew due to railroad construction in the early 1900s, they siphoned off the population of Excelsior. The academy became a primary school in a sparsely populated town.