Welcome to the Dallas County Alabama Genealogy & History Network website providing free information to genealogical and historical researchers.
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Dallas County was created by an act of the territorial legislature on February 9, 1818, almost two years before Alabama became a state. In 1820, Cahaba, a small town located in central Dallas County at the junction of the Cahaba River and the Alabama River, was chosen as the county seat and the capital of the state. The small town soon became a bustling economic and political center, but declined after the seat of state government moved to Tuscaloosa in 1825. During the 1840s and 1850s the town again attained prominence as a center of the cotton industry, but it was virtually abandoned after the Civil War, when the county seat was moved to Selma.
The town of Selma, located on a bluff overlooking the Alabama River, was officially recorded in 1732 as Ecor Bienville, then later as the Moore's Bluff settlement. It was chartered in 1819 by William Rufus King, state senator and vice president to Franklin Pierce. Given its location on the Alabama River, Dallas County quickly developed as an important cotton-producing area, typified by large-scale plantation agriculture.
Selma played an important part in the Civil War as a center of the munitions industry. After the fall of New Orleans in 1862, Confederate Chief of Ordinance Josiah Gorgas ordered Mobile's Mount Vernon Arsenal moved to the more central location of Selma. The Selma Naval Ordnance Works was responsible for manufacturing artillery, and the Confederate Naval Yard constructed the CSS Tennessee to defend Mobile Bay. It is estimated that toward the end of the war the 10,000 workers employed in various Selma factories were producing one-half of the cannons and two-thirds of the ammunition used by Confederate forces. In addition to iron and munitions, the town also produced nitre, used in the making of gunpowder, from nearby limestone caves.
Because of its industrial importance, Selma became a crucial target for Union forces. After several thwarted attempts, Union forces under General J. H. Wilson finally reached Selma in April 1865, where they defeated Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest's troops and destroyed the arsenal and factories. The abandoned city of Cahaba also played a role in the war as home of the infamous Confederate prison, Castle Morgan. After the fall of Selma, more than 1,000 Union prisoners kept at Cahaba died when the steamer used to transport them back north, the Sultana, exploded and sank in the Mississippi River.
During the 1960s, Selma became an important center of the civil rights movement. The first voter-registration drives, organized in 1960, were met with massive resistance by the white community. In 1965, Dallas County received national media attention when Alabama troopers attacked civil-rights marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on what became known as "Bloody Sunday" during the Selma-to-Montgomery March. In response to the events, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The county has a total area of 994 square miles, of which 979 square miles is land and 15 square miles (1.5%) is water. The population recorded in the 1820 Federal Census was 6,003. The 2010 census recorded 43,820 residents in the county.
Neighboring counties are Chilton County (north), Autauga County (northeast), Lowndes County (southeast), Wilcox County (south), Marengo County (west), and Perry County (northwest). Communities in the county include Selma, Valley Grande, Orrville, Selmont, West Selmont, Beloit, Bogue Chitto, Browns, Carlowville, Crumptonia, Elm Bluff, Marion Junction, Minter, Plantersville, Pleasant Hill, Richmond, Safford, Sardis, Summerfield, Tyler, and Cahaba.
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.
Dallas County is located in central Alabama.
A list of Dallas County communities & places. Some of these have additional history information.
A list of Dallas County, Alabama Churches with photos and additional information for many.
For a list of Dallas County, Alabama Cemeteries, tombstone photos and more.
A list of Dallas County, Alabama Schools. Some of these have photos and additional information.