This year I decided to travel to each of the 67 counties in Alabama to photograph the courthouses. I did not spend a great deal of time at each stop. There are varied styles throughout the state.
Autauga County was created on November 21, 1818, and lies in the center of Alabama. Prattville was founded by Daniel Pratt, originally of New Hampshire, had moved South and found his wealth in building cotton gins. Pratt built the first courthouse in 1870. A second courthouse was constructed in 1906. By 1959, the old Courthouse was in need of a total renovation. It was completed in 1962. On August 30, 1984, the Courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Baldwin County was created on December 21, 1809 as part of the Mississippi Territory, ten years before Alabama became a state. Only two Alabama counties are older than Baldwin, Washington County (1800) and Madison County (1808). Baldwin is the largest county in area in Alabama and is larger than the State of Rhode Island. The town of Blakeley (now Blakeley State Park) served as the county seat until 1820, and then it was moved to Daphne in 1868. In July 1901, the cornerstone for a courthouse was laid in Bay Minette and the courthouse was completed in October. By 1955, it underwent a major remodel and expansion.
Barbour County was created on December 18, 1832. Ten new Alabama counties were created on that day. The earliest settlers arrived in 1817. Clayton served as the first ‘courthouse’ or log cabin courthouse was erected in 1833. The log cabin was replaced in 1854 then n 1924 the building was expanded. The new courthouse was completed in December, 1961. Eufaula had surpassed Clayton in importance and a decision was made to have duel courthouses in both Clayton and Eufaula and would share the duties of courts. Eufaula erected its first courthouse in 1877, it was expanded in 1924 and in 1984 it was again updated and modernized. A number of notable Alabamian’s are from Barbour County including George Wallace, Lurleen Wallace and Jere Beasley.
Bibb County was created on February 7, 1818. It was originally established as Cahawba County. James Madison appointed William Wyatt Bibb who was originally from Virginia in 1817. After his unexpected death in 1820, the county was renamed in his honor. The first courthouse was erected in September, 1822 then in 1832 another courthouse was completed in Centreville, Alabama, the county seat. In 1858 the courthouse was dismantled and moved to another location which served until 1902. The present courthouse was completed in 1906. In 1988, a restoration program was enacted for the century-old building.
Blount County was created on February 6, 1818, from land ceded to the Federal Government by the Creek Indians in 1814. The county is named for Governor Willie Blount of Tennessee. Blount provided assistance to settlers in Alabama during the Creek War of 1813-14. It is sometimes known as the mineral region of Alabama. Blount County is bordered by Cullman, Marshall, Etowah, Jefferson, Walker, and St. Clair Counties.
Blount County has been dubbed the “Covered Bridge Capital of Alabama”. It has more historic covered bridges standing within a single county than any other in the state. The county celebrates a Covered Bridge Festival every autumn in Oneonta to commemorate its three remaining covered bridges; The Swann Covered Bridge, the Horton Mill Covered Bridge, and the Easley Covered Bridge. Blount County is also as many outdoor activities, Rickwood Caverns State Park and Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River.
Bullock County was created December 5, 1866. Union Springs became the refined center of the county. Bullock was named for Edward C. Bullock who was an attorney and served in the State Senate and as a Colonel in the Civil War. He died of yellow fever in 1861. The courthouse was completed in Union Springs in 1872. The courthouse was remodeled in 1954 which added two wings and additional story to the structure. In 1976, the courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 1992, the newly renovated and modern courthouse was unveiled.
Butler County was created December 13, 1819 and Alabama became a state on December 14, 1819. Greenville is the county seat. The county is named from Captain William Butler who had been killed by Indians in 1818. Captain Butler is interred in a cemetery in Greenville. All four courthouses in Greenville have occupied the same location beginning with a frame building in the 1820s until a fire in 1853 destroyed the structure and all the county records. The new frame structure was completed in 1854. In 1871, the first brick structure was erected. In 1903, the new distinctive structure with a clock tower was built. In 1995, the courthouse suffered significant damage to the clock tower due to Hurricane Opal. The old dome was replaced in 1997.
Chambers County was created on December 18, 1832 and named for Dr. Henry Chambers. Originally from Virginia, Chambers served with Andrew Jackson, was a respected physician and politician. He served on the Constitutional Convention in 1819 and was elected the U.S. Senator from Alabama. Sadly, he died before taking office. Court was first held in private homes in 1833 until the first temporary log cabin courthouse was constructed. In 1834, the 60×40 brick courthouse was completed. The courthouse had the distinction of being duplicated in Tallapoosa, Macon and Randolph counties. The next courthouse was completed in 1837 due to the work stopped for the Indian Wars in 1836. The courthouse served for 62 years until 1899 when it lacked space for the county records. On the dome of the courthouse stands a statute of Justice. A restoration project commenced in 1959 and today it is one of the most intact and well-preserved in the state. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Cherokee County was created on January 9, 1836. The Cherokee Indians had occupied the area from 1303 to 1838. In 1838, the U.S. Government removed all Cherokees from the county in what became known as the Trail of Tears. Centre (the old English spelling) is the county seat. In 1837, a temporary log courthouse was built. In 1849, a red brick courthouse was built. The courthouse burned in 1882 and most of the records lost. The second courthouse burned in 1895. Rebuilt in 1896 with the addition of a large clock tower the courthouse served for 40 years. A fourth courthouse was built in 1936 and in 1952 a courthouse annex was completed.
Chilton County, “Peach Capital of Alabama” was created on December 30, 1868. Chilton County is the geographic heart of Alabama. The county is named for William P. Chilton who served as Chief Justice on the Supreme Court of Alabama in 1852. The first log cabin courthouse burned in 1870. In 1872, a two story frame structure was constructed. In 1894, the courthouse was sold and physically removed from the property and a new brick and stone structure completed in 1896. The interior burned in 1918 but most of the records were saved. A new courthouse was completed in 1919 along with an annex. In 1962, a much needed new courthouse was dedicated.
Choctaw County was created on December 29, 1847. The county seat is Butler. The first courthouse was erected in 1848 and served until 1906. Additions were added in 1956, 1965 and 1970. It suffered damage in a 1995 a winter storm but was quickly repaired.
Clarke County was created on December 10, 1812. The county seat is in Grove Hill. The first courthouse was a frame structure dating to 1832. The second courthouse was completed in Grove Hill in 1899. The third courthouse was completed in 1955 and remodeled in 1976.
Cleburne County was created on December 6, 1866. The county seat is Heflin. Cleburne county is named for General Patrick R. Cleburne of the 15th Arkansas Infantry who was killed in the Battle of Franklin Tennessee in 1864. The first courthouse was constructed in Edwardsville that was one large room and was used as early as 1868. Eleven years later, a brick building was erected with a large courtroom. In 1905, citizens of Heflin petitioned the Governor to move the courthouse location to Heflin. In 1907, construction of a brick courthouse in Heflin began. In 1938, two wings were added and in 1976, the courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Colbert County was created on February 6, 1867. Tuscumbia is the county seat. A house served as the first courthouse in 1870. In 1882, the two-story brick courthouse was completed. In 1908, the courthouse was damaged by fire and in was rebuilt in 1909. The clock tower is reminiscent of the clock tower on the capital building in Montgomery. In 1948, a north annex was added and in 1962 another expansion was completed. In 1975, a two-story west wing was completed in 1976.
Conecuh County was established in February 18, 1818. The county seat is Evergreen. The courthouses for the county began as a one room of log building in Hampden Ridge. Sparta was the next location of the county courthouse. Sparta housed the regional Federal Land office in 1820. By 1860, Sparta was the largest town between Mobile and Pensacola. Sparta lost the land office in 1855 and the courthouse burned in 1866. A new courthouse was built in Evergreen 1899 and is still in use today. Repairs were made to the courthouse in 1935 and in 1958 the county added a new building to the front of the courthouse.
Crenshaw County was created on November 24, 1866. The county seat is Luverne. Anderson Crenshaw, the namesake for the county was the one of the first Alabama Supreme court justices. The battle between Rutledge and Luverne for the county seat ended in 1893 when the courthouse was built in 1893. In 1898, a new courthouse was built adorned with a clock tower. In 1955, the third courthouse was completed.
Cullman County was created on January 24, 1877 as the sixty-sixth county. The county seat is Cullman. The first courthouse was completed in 1879 and it served until 1912 when it was damaged by fire. A red brick courthouse was constructed in 1912 with a four face clock tower. A new courthouse was built in 1964. The invocation was given by then probate judge and future Governor, Guy Hunt.