Welcome to the Clarke County Alabama Genealogy & History Network website providing free information to genealogical and historical researchers.
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Located in the southwestern area of the state, Clarke County's salt works, shipbuilding facilities, and sawmills were indispensable to the Confederacy during the Civil War. Once the home of the largest number of Work Project Administration Rural Rehabilitation workers in the state, the county is a leader in Alabama’s forestry industry. The county is governed by an elected five-member commission.
Clarke County was created by the Mississippi Territorial Government on December 10, 1812, from lands taken from Washington County. The county was named for Revolutionary War soldier and Georgia Governor John Clarke. The area was claimed by both the Creeks and the Choctaws, with the watershed of the Alabama and Tombigbee rivers being the dividing line between the two. Non-Indian towns were located along the Alabama and Tombigbee during the initial years of settlement, and the opening of the Federal Road brought even more settlers. During the Creek War of 1813-14, immigration to Clarke County dwindled, and settlers built Fort Sinquefield to protect themselves from attack. The Creeks ceded their claims to lands in the county in the Treaty of Fort Jackson in 1814, and the Choctaws relinquished their claim in the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830.
During the Civil War the county contributed 10 companies totaling approximately 1,100 men to the Confederacy. The state provided salt from salt works known as the "Upper Works" and the "Lower Works." Shipbuilding facilities and a steam-powered sawmill at Oven Bluff supplied the Confederacy with gunboats and building materials. As agriculture plummeted after the Civil War due to tenancy, the forestry industry, aided by the construction of the Mobile and Birmingham Railroad, boomed and became the top industry in the county.
For its first 50 years, Clarke County was virtually covered in canebrakes, making large-scale plantation agriculture almost impossible. Despite this fact, farmers in the county, like those throughout Alabama, relied on cotton, along with some corn and wheat, as their primary agricultural product. By the 1850s, with the clearing of the canebrakes, the county saw an almost 55 percent increase in population. After the Civil War, with the decline in the value of cotton, Clarke County farmers tried to diversify their crops. At the turn of the century, the boll weevil ruined cotton farming and farmers began growing oats, wheat, corn, peanuts, pecans, peas, and potatoes, and began raising livestock, silkworms, and bees. Many also switched to the more lucrative timber industry, as Clarke County had an abundant supply of yellow pine.
During the Great Depression, the forestry industry, along with agriculture, plunged into virtual economic ruin. Under the Works Project Administration poor farmers enrolled in the Works Project Administration Rural Rehabilitation Program. By 1934, Clarke County had more destitute farmers enrolled in its program than any other county in the state. After World War II, the forestry industry experienced another boom and today it remains the cornerstone of the rural county's economy. Paper mills soon became a significant source of employment, and as of 2001, four major mills—Boise Cascade, Alabama River Pulp, Weyerhaeuser, and Georgia Pacific—were located in Clarke County. In addition to the large mills, there are five major sawmills, one plywood mill, a veneer mill, and several textile plants.
The county has a total area of 1,253 square miles, of which 1,238 square miles is land and 14 square miles(1.1%) is water. The population recorded in the 1820 Federal Census was 5,839. The 2010 census recorded 25,833 residents in the county.
Neighboring counties are Marengo County (north), Wilcox County (northeast), Monroe County (east), Baldwin County (south), Washington County (southwest), and Choctaw County (northwest). Communities in the county include Jackson, Thomasville, Coffeeville, Fulton, Grove Hill, Alma, Barlow Bend, Bashi, Campbell, Dickinson, Gainestown, Gosport, McEntyre, Morvin, Salitpa, Suggsville, Tallahatta Springs, Tattlersville, Walker Springs, Choctaw Corner, Clarkesville, and Failetown.
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.
Clarke County is located in south-west Alabama.
A list of Clarke County communities & places. Some of these have additional history information.
A list of Clarke County, Alabama Churches with photos and additional information for many.
For a list of Clarke County, Alabama Cemeteries, tombstone photos and more.
A list of Clarke County, Alabama Schools. Some of these have photos and additional information.