Welcome to the Coffee County Alabama Genealogy & History Network website providing free information to genealogical and historical researchers.
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Coffee County was created by an act of the Alabama State Legislature on December 29, 1841, and was named for Gen. John Coffee, who fought in the Creek War of 1813-14. Originally part of Dale County, the first border of Coffee County extended to Florida. In 1868 the southern border of the county was used in the formation of Geneva County. The first county seat was located at Wellborn, but was later moved to Elba in 1852.
During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Coffee County was a major cotton growing area, but the arrival of the boll weevil in 1915 ruined the industry. After the cotton crop was completely destroyed in 1916, Coffee County farmers were forced to shift to a new crop. Coffee county extension agent John Pittman, inspired by George Washington Carver's research, introduced peanuts to the area, and the new staple crop proved successful. In 1919 Roscoe Fleming, a merchant in the town of Enterprise, erected a monument to commemorate the pest that forced the county to seek out new crops and gain new successes in farming. The Boll Weevil Monument holds the distinction as the only known monument erected to a pest.
In 1936, the federal government's Farm Security Administration, in an effort to increase farm prices, purchased 32,000 acres of land on the eastern border of Coffee County that they planned to transform into a wilderness reservation. Known as Bear Farm, the land was transferred to the War Department in January 1942 to serve as a training site for soldiers during World War II. Named Camp Rucker for Confederate colonel Edmund Rucker, the training base became Fort Rucker in 1955. Fort Rucker became the Army Air Corp's headquarters when flight training was consolidated at the base in 1973. Air Force helicopter pilots have trained at the base since 1971. Fort Rucker straddles the borders of Houston, Dale, and Geneva counties in addition to Coffee County. In March 2007, the county gained national attention when a tornado destroyed Enterprise High School and killed eight students.
Coffee County had a largely agricultural economy during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Although many farmers raised hogs and cattle, the major crop was cotton. In 1915 the arrival of the boll weevil changed Coffee County's economy forever. That year, the weevil destroyed more than 60 percent of the harvest. The following year, farmers planted a huge crop of cotton and attempted to combat the boll weevil, but these efforts failed, and the entire cotton crop was virtually destroyed. Coffee County farmers thus were forced to look for another staple crop and turned to the peanut.
In 1917 the county grew and harvested the largest peanut crop—more than one million bushels for market—of any county in the nation, and peanuts remain the most important cash crop in the county. In 1911, the town of Elba became synonymous with Dorsey Trailers, a manufacturing company that produces hauling equipment, machinery trailers, truck bodies, and platforms. The main employer in Elba for the majority of the twentieth century, Dorsey Trailers closed in November 2000 and its assets were acquired by Street Asset Management in June 2001. Fort Rucker, constructed during WWII, is also a major employer.
The county has a total area of 680 square miles, of which 678.5 square miles is land and 1.5 square miles (0.2%) is water. The population recorded in the 1850 Federal Census was 5,940. The 2010 census recorded 49,548 residents in the county.
Neighboring counties are Pike County (north), Dale County (east), Geneva County (south), Covington County (west), and Crenshaw County (northwest). Communities in the county include Elba, Enterprise (partly in Dale County), Kinston, New Brockton, Alberton, Basin, Battens Crossroads, Bluff Springs, Brooklyn, Central City, Chesnut Grove, Clintonville, Clowers Crossroads, Coppinville, Curtis, Damascus, Danleys Crossroads, Frisco, Goodman, Ino, Jack, Java, Keyton, Lowry Mill, Newby, Perry Store, Pine Level, Rhoades, Richburg, Roeton, Shady Grove, Tabernacle, Turner Crossroads, Victoria, Wilkinstown, and Zoar.
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.
Coffee County is located in Southeast Alabama.
A list of Coffee County communities & places. Some of these have additional history information.
A list of Coffee County, Alabama Churches with photos and additional information for many.
For a list of Coffee County, Alabama Cemeteries, tombstone photos and more.