Welcome to the Choctaw County Alabama Genealogy & History Network website providing free information to genealogical and historical researchers.
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Once an area of extensive paper and petroleum industries, Choctaw County is located in southwestern Alabama. The Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge, located near Coffeeville, is an important resting place for migrating birds and provides habitat for a number of Alabama animals. The county is governed by an elected four-member commission and includes seven incorporated communities.
Choctaw County was created by an act of the Alabama State Legislature on December 29, 1848, from land formerly within the Choctaw Nation. Located in the southwestern part of the state, the county was named for the Choctaw Indians, some of whom had settlements near the present-day town of Pushmataha, named for the noted Choctaw chief. In the 1890s, Choctaw County received national media attention for what became known as the Sims War, which erupted after Robert Sims, a Confederate war veteran turned preacher, amassed a following of 100 parishioners and declared he and his followers owed no allegiance to an earthly government, should not pay taxes, and had the freedom to make and distribute whiskey. In 1891 U.S. marshals charged Sims and his followers with moonshining and put out a warrant for his arrest. In the ensuing months, skirmishes involving the marshals, a local posse, and Sims followers resulted in several deaths. Sims and a number of his men were eventually captured and hanged by a mob.
Early settlers in Choctaw County produced cotton and other agricultural goods that they floated down the Tombigbee River to Mobile. The forestry industry has been the economic backbone of the county since its creation in 1847. In 1912, the railroad came to the county, reducing the reliance on water traffic and remained an important commercial transport method until the 1980s.
On January 2, 1944, the state of Alabama granted Hunt Oil Company a permit to drill the A.R. Jackson Well No. 1 near Gilbertown in Choctaw County. Drilling commenced on January 10, 1944, and was completed approximately one month later. The discovery of this well led to the creation of the State Oil and Gas Board of Alabama in 1945, and to the development and growth of the petroleum industry in the state. In the mid-twentieth century, clothing factories were constructed in Silas, Toxey, and Butler, and Marathon Paper Company constructed a paper mill in the town of Naheola. These industries produced clothing and paper products sold all over the world. By the 1990s the railroad had closed and the clothing factories had moved their operations to other countries.
Choctaw County is home to the Choctaw County Heritage Festival, an annual event held every Memorial Day weekend. The county is also home to Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge, located along the Tombigbee River. The refuge, which includes nearly 4,500 acres, is home to alligators, herons, raptors, beavers, deer, turkey, raccoon, wood ducks, migrating waterfowl, and several endangered or threatened species including bald eagles and wood storks. The Old Naheola Bridge, which crosses the Tombigbee River, was built in 1934 and until it closed in 2000 was one of only two bridges in the world that carried rail and automobile traffic on the same road.
The county has a total area of 921 square miles, of which 914 square miles is land and 7.4 square miles(0.8%) is water. The population recorded in the 1850 Federal Census was 8,389. The 2010 census recorded 13,859 residents in the county.
Neighboring counties are Sumter County (north), Marengo County (northeast), Clarke County (southeast), Washington County (south), Wayne County, Mississippi (southwest), Clarke County, Mississippi (west), and Lauderdale County, Mississippi (northwest).
Communities in the county include Butler, Gilbertown, Lisman, Needham, Pennington, Silas, Toxey, Bladon Springs, Jachin, Melvin, Mount Sterling, Pushmataha, Spring Hill, Robjohn, and Yantley.
Alabama Genealogy & History Network has much information on our county websites - cemetery listings, community data, etc. Please visit the county or counties of interest to you.
Birth Records - The Alabama Department of Public Health maintains records of births from 1908 to present. This was the year Alabama began keeping official birth records. You can obtain official copies of birth certificates by visiting the birth record page on their website and following the instructions. Since there are no official birth records before 1908 for births prior to that date you will need to determine birth information from census records, bible records, baptismal records, cemetery tombstones, etc.
Death Records - The Alabama Department of Public Health maintains death records after 1908 on file. This was the year Alabama began keeping official death records. You can obtain official copies of death certificates by visiting the death record page on their website and following the instructions. Since there are no official death records before 1908 for deaths prior to that date you will need to determine death information from census records, bible records, funeral home records, cemetery tombstones, etc.
Marriage Records - The Alabama Department of Public Health can provide you with information for marriages that took place from 1936 to present by by visiting the marriage record page on their website and following the instructions.
All existing county marriage records for any date not listed above (and for the dates listed above for that matter) may be obtained from the county's Probate Office in which the marriage was held.
Divorce Records - The Alabama Department of Public Health maintains divorce records from 1950 to present. You can obtain official copies of devorce records by visiting the divorce record page on their website and following the instructions. Records for divorces occuring before 1950 may be obtained from the Circuit Clerk in the county where the divorce took place.
Choctaw County is located in Southeastern Alabama on the Mississippi state line.
A list of Choctaw County communities & places. Some of these have additional history information.
A list of Choctaw County schools. Some of these have photos and additional information.
For a list of Choctaw County, Alabama Cemeteries, tombstone photos and more.
A list of Choctaw County, Alabama Churches with photos and additional information for many.