Welcome to the Pickens County Alabama Genealogy & History Network website providing free information to genealogical and historical researchers.
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Pickens County was created by an act of the Alabama legislature on December 20, 1820. The county was created from part of Tuscaloosa County, which itself was formed in 1818 from territory acquired through land cessions negotiated with the Cherokees and Choctaws in the late 1810s. Pickens County's boundaries changed several times between 1820 and 1866, when its boundaries were finalized.
The county was named in honor of General Andrew Pickens of South Carolina, a Revolutionary War hero. The county's earliest settlers came from the Carolinas, Tennessee, and Georgia. Most traveled south through Huntsville, in Madison County, or west through Augusta, Georgia. The earliest settlements were located on Tilly's Bluff near present-day Pickensville. Other early towns included Carrollton, Bridgeville, and Yorkville (now known as Ethelsville).
Pickensville served as the first county seat until 1830, when the county government was moved to Carrollton. The first courthouse in Carrollton was burned by troops under Union General John T. Croxton on April 5, 1865. The second courthouse was also destroyed by fire on November 16, 1876. Arson was suspected, and in January 1878 Henry Wells, a freed slave who lived near Carrollton, was arrested on circumstantial evidence and locked in the garret of the new courthouse, erected in 1877. According to legend, Wells was peering down from the north garret window awaiting trial as a mob gathered to hang him. A bolt of lightning struck nearby and copied Wells' anguished face into the window glass. A vague image resembling a face may still be seen in the lower right-hand pane of that window. The 1877 courthouse was the third courthouse and was vacated in 1994 when the present-day modern courthouse was constructed.
Farming was the prevailing occupation in Pickens County until the early twentieth century, and cotton, corn, and soybeans were the major crops. Today, poultry and swine are important agricultural activities. Forestry became an important industry for the county in the late nineteenth century and remains so today. Lumber mills continue to provide steady employment opportunities for the county. Because Pickens County is part of the Warrior Coal Basin, mining provided some economic opportunities for the county, although not as much as other counties.
The Tom Bevill Visitor Center near Pickensville serves as the main visitor center for the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. An authentic reproduction of a mid-nineteenth century plantation mansion contains displays related to the history and development of the Tombigbee River and Waterway. Docked beside the center is the U.S. Snagboat Montgomery, one of the last steam-powered stern-wheelers to ply the waters of the South. The boat was used to keep Alabama's rivers free of debris, called snags, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and contains exhibits about the boat's operation and history.
The county has a total area of 890 square miles, of which 881 square miles is land and 9 square mile (1.0%) is water. The population recorded in the 1830 Federal Census was 6,622. The 2020 census recorded 19,123 residents in the county.
Neighboring counties are Lamar County (north), Fayette County (northeast), Tuscaloosa County (east), Greene County (southeast), Sumter County (south), Noxubee County, Mississippi (southwest), and Lowndes County, Mississippi (west).
Communities in the county include Aliceville, Reform, Carrollton, Ethelsville, Gordo, McMullen, Memphis, Pickensville, Macedonia, Benevola, Coal Fire, McShan, Olney, and Vienna.
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.
Pickens County is located in East-central Alabama on the Mississippi state line.
A list of Pickens County communities & places. Some of these have additional history information.
A list of Pickens County, Alabama Churches with photos and additional information for many.
For a list of Pickens County, Alabama Cemeteries, tombstone photos and more.
A list of Pickens County, Alabama Schools. Some of these have photos and additional information.