Welcome to the Houston County Alabama Genealogy & History Network website providing free information to genealogical and historical researchers.
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Houston County was created by an act of the Alabama State Legislature on February 9, 1903, making it the newest of Alabama's 67 counties. The history of Houston County is closely linked to the histories of Henry, Dale, and Geneva counties: 72 percent of Houston County was carved from Henry County, and the remainder came from Dale and Geneva counties.
The county owes its existence to those political leaders who, during the 1901 Constitutional Convention, eliminated the requirement that counties have an area of at least 600 square miles. The main argument for the creation of a new county was the great distance citizens in the lower half of Henry County had to travel to pay taxes and attend to legal affairs. Although a branch courthouse was established in Dothan in 1894, this proved insufficient for residents of lower Henry County. Houston County was named in honor of Gov. George Smith Houston of Limestone County.
On March 16, 1903, Dothan was chosen as county seat and remains so today. The first court house, a traditional brick building, was built in 1905 and stood until 1962. In 1962, a modern courthouse was built as a replacement for the 1905 courthouse, and this in turn was replaced in 2003 by the current postmodern structure.
Like most of Alabama, farming was the prevailing occupation in the area that became Houston County until well into the twentieth century. The region's relative isolation and seemingly poor soil meant that it was sparsely settled until after the Civil War. Prior to that time, only a few subsistence farms existed in the area. After the war, the timber industry boomed as lumbering interests rushed in to take advantage of the longleaf pine forests that covered the county. During the early years of the twentieth century, farmers realized that the sandy soil could be made fertile with the aid of commercial fertilizers, and the county became a cotton-producing region.
The arrival of the boll weevil in the early twentieth century forced a shift from cotton to crops such as peanuts, corn, and pecans as well as to the raising of livestock. Peanuts became so important to the county's economy that approximately half of the peanuts produced in the United States are grown within a 100-mile radius of Dothan. With the introduction of hydroelectric power in the 1930s and 1940s, Houston County moved from an agriculture-based economy to an industry-based economy, although most major industries in the county remain tied to the land in the form of textile factories or food-production factories.
The county has a total area of 582 square miles, of which 580 square miles is land and 2 square miles (0.3%) is water. The population recorded in the 1910 Federal Census was 32,414. The 2010 census recorded 101,547 residents in the county.
Neighboring counties are Henry County (north), Early County, Georgia (east), Seminole County, Georgia (southeast), Jackson County, Florida (south), Geneva County (west), and Dale County (northwest). Communities in the county include Dothan (partly in Dale and Henry Counties), Ashford, Avon, Columbia, Cottonwood, Cowarts, Gordon, Kinsey, Madrid, Rehobeth, Taylor (partly in Geneva County), Webb, Ardilla, Barber, Big Creek, Brannon Stand, Crosby, Dupree, Enon, Garretts Crossroads, Grangeburg, Harmon, Hodgesville, Keytons, Love Hill, Lucy, Merritts Crossroads, Pansey, Peterman, Pleasant Plains, Smyrna, Southern Junction, Terry Crossroads, and Wilson Quarters.
Alabama Genealogy & History Network has many records on our county websites - marriage records, cemetery listings, 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 - We have thousands of county marriage records on our county websites. These dates will assist you greatly in obtaining a copy of the original marriage license. 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.
Houston County is located in the extreme southeastern corner of Alabama.
A list of Houston County communities & places. Some of these have additional history information.
For a list of Houston County, Alabama Cemeteries, tombstone photos and more.
A list of Houston County, Alabama Churches with photos and additional information for many.