Welcome to the Sumter County Alabama Genealogy & History Network website providing free information to genealogical and historical researchers.
To share your Sumter County, Alabama genealogy or history information, send an email to email@example.com - we will be pleased to include it here. If you have information to share for other Alabama Counties, visit the Alabama Genealogy & History Network state website and choose the appropriate county.
Home to one of the South's oldest covered bridges, Sumter County is located in the west-central part of Alabama in the Black Belt region. Sumter was also the birthplace of Ruby Pickens Tartt, who helped to collect African American narratives and local musical traditions, and of Vera Hall Ward, a blues singer whom Tartt helped bring to fame.
The county also was home to Julia S. Tutwiler, pioneer advocate of women's education, prison reform, and women's rights, and who wrote the state song. The county is governed by an elected six-member commission and includes the incorporated cities of Livingston and York.
Sumter County was created by the Alabama legislature on December 18, 1832, from former Choctaw Indian lands ceded to the United States in the Choctaw Treaty of 1830, also known as the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. Sumter County was named in honor of General Thomas Sumter of South Carolina, a Revolutionary War hero. The earliest settlers came to the county from the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia. Some of the first towns included Gaston and Gainesville.
In 1832, Livingston became the first and only county seat. The first courthouse was built of logs in 1833 and a second framed courthouse was built in 1839 on the same site and burned in 1901. In 1902, the third and present courthouse was built on the same site, a domed, brick structure that has undergone several renovations yet is still in use today.
As part of Alabama's Black Belt, farming was the prevailing occupation of Sumter County until well into the twentieth century, with cotton, corn, and sweet potatoes the county's main agricultural products. With easy access to the Tombigbee River, transportation of goods was also an important part of the county's economy during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Gainesville became the largest inland shipping port of cotton in the world by the late nineteenth century.
After the damage caused by the boll weevil and the desperate years of the Great Depression, farmers tried diversifying crops, although with limited success. Sumter County, once so wealthy from cotton, struggled throughout the twentieth century. Today, cattle are the major agricultural product, and lumbering is the major industry.
The county has a total area of 913 square miles, of which 904 square miles is land and 9 square miles (1.0%) is water. The population recorded in the 1840 Federal Census was 29,937. The 2010 census recorded 13,763 residents in the county.
Neighboring counties are Pickens County (north), Greene County (northeast), Marengo County (southeast), Choctaw County (south), Lauderdale County, Mississippi (southwest), Kemper County, Mississippi (west), and Noxubee County, Mississippi (northwest). Communities in the county include Livingston, York, Cuba, Emelle, Epes, Gainesville, Geiger, Bellamy, Panola, Intercourse, and Ward.
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.
Sumter County is located in the east-central portion of Alabama.
A list of Sumter County communities & places. Some of these have additional history information.
For a list of Sumter County, Alabama Cemeteries, tombstone photos and more.
A list of Sumter County, Alabama Churches with photos and additional information for many.