Clarke County Alabama History

Clarke County was established on December 10, 1812 by the Mississippi Territory. The county had numerous forts, built by settlers for protection during the Creek War (1813–1814). One of the most notable was Fort Sinquefield. The first county seat was Clarkesville, founded in 1820. The seat was moved to Macon, later renamed Grove Hill, in 1831. During the American Civil War, the county was notable for its salt production.

Clarke County Alabama Cities

Jackson Alabama

The city of Jackson is named for Andrew Jackson, a military hero of the Creek War and later President of the United States. He passed through the county with his troops in 1813. Jackson was incorporated just three years later, in 1816. It had originally been named Pine Level after the land company that laid out the new town.

Thomasville Alabama

Thomasville’s location in the northeast corner of the county has always been the key to its success. With Marengo County just four miles away to the northwest and Wilcox County just four miles north, the city attracts shoppers from both of those counties as well as from the surrounding communities in Clarke County.

Founded in 1888, Thomasville had its beginnings in the nearby town of Choctaw. When the merchants there learned that a railroad line running from Mobile to Birmingham was coming through to the east, they realized the potential and quickly rebuilt their establishments in the new town. The first business district was destroyed by fire in 1899, but many of the stores were quickly rebuilt. Many of the existing buildings in the historic downtown business district were those erected after the fire.

Clarke County Historical Destinations

Thomasville Sports Hall of Fame


Kimbell House


Clarke County Historical Museum

Grove Hill

Kathryn Tucker Windham Museum*


Clarke County Alabama Towns

Coffeeville Alabama

Coffeeville is a small town in north-west Clarke County, with a population of approximately 360 residents. It was originally known as Murrell’s Landing in 1808, after an early settler William Murrell. It was later renamed Coffeeville in honor of General John Coffee, a hero of the Creek and Indian War.

Fulton Alabama

Fulton is a town of 350 located on Highway 178 a few miles off Highway 43. Established in 1896, the town sprang up around the railroad and Scotch lumber mill, both of which are still located in the heart of town today.

Grove Hill Alabama

Before settlers came to the area in the early 1800’s, what is now Grove Hill was inhabited by Choctaw Indians. The first known white settlement in the area was near Magoffin’s Store, on the north side of town. The county seat of Clarke County was located here in 1832 because the spot was more central to the rest of the county. Known as Smithville, then Macon, the name Grove Hill was selected around 1850 because of a large grove of oak trees. The town was officially incorporated and chartered in 1929.

Clarke County Alabama Census Designated Places

Carlton Alabama

Carlton is an census-designated place in Clarke County. As of the 2010 census, its population was 65. It was formerly known as Hal’s Lake. The Isaac Nettles Gravestones are located in Carlton in the Mount Nebo Baptist Church Cemetery.

Isaac Nettles “Death Masks” Headstones near Carlton, Alabama

Located near the southern tip of Clarke County just west of Carlton, Alabam is the Mt. Nebo Baptist Church and Cemetery. In the cemetery, there are three graves that have very unusual markings. The headstones on these graves contain “death masks”. These headstones were crafted by Isaac Nettles, Sr. (1885 – 1957). He created the “death masks” by making mud molds of the subjects’ faces while they were still alive. From the molds, he cast the masks using concrete and wire. These “death mask” markers are an example of how Nettles derived creativity out of need. According to relatives, Nettles improvised with concrete because there was no money for stone grave markers.

The Mt. Nebo Cemetery is located on a gravel road approximately two miles west of Carlton, Alabama (GPS Coordinates 31.346222,-87.867444). There have been problems with vandalism in the Mt. Nebo Cemetery. To prevent further vandalism the Mt. Nebo Baptist Church has installed a gate to keep out motor traffic when the church grounds are not in use. If you visit the cemetery, please be respectful and take precautions to ensure that no graves are disturbed.


Rockville Alabama

The population of Rockville, AL is 79.5% White Alone, 20.5% Black or African American Alone, and 0% Two or More Races. In 2017, Rockville, AL had a population of 44 people. Between 2016 and 2017 the population of Rockville, AL declined from 48 to 44.

Bartram’s Trail

William Bartram, America’s first native born artist-naturalist, passed through Clarke County during the Revolutionary era, making the first scientific notations of its flora, fauna and inhabitants. As the appointed botanist of Britain’s King George III, he traveled 2,400 miles in three journeys into the southern colonies in 1775-1776, collecting rare plants and specimens and making detailed drawings of plants and animals.

An historical marker for Bartram’s Trail is located in south Clarke County approximately 11 miles south of Jackson, Alabama on Co. Rd. 15 (Rockville Rd.) at the entrance to the Fred T. Stimpson Wildlife Sanctuary (GPS coordinates 31.382654, -87.849970). It was erected by the Clarke County Commission and Alabama Bicentennial Commission.


Whatley Alabama

An historical marker is located on Main Street in front of the Horeb Baptist Church in Whatley, Alabama. (GPS coordinates 31.650388,-87.711215). Following is the inscription on the marker:

Originally home of Creek and Choctaw Indians, Whatley was first settled by pioneers about 1808. Some of the most famous events in Clarke County’s history happened in or near Whatley. A Creek War battle occurred here in 1812 at Fort Sinquefield, the location of an early fort built by settlers for protection against the Creeks who were British allies during the War of 1812. Also nearby is the Old Line Road (Co. Rd. 35) that follows near the surveyed “Indian Boundary Line” which separated the Creek from the Choctaw. Clarke County’s revered historian, the Rev. T. H. Ball, is buried in Whatley. One of the earliest churches in the area was Horeb Baptist Church, founded September 9, 1825. The town was first called Horeb in honor of this church. Eventually, the town was named “Whatley”, in honor of Franklin Benjamin Whatley (October 1, 1826-June 8, 1896). Mr. Whatley was the grandson of Elder Willis Whatley, an early Baptist minister of Clarke County.

When the Mobile and Birmingham Railroad came through the county in 1886-87, land on which the depot was built was deeded to the railroad by Mr. F. B. Whatley. The railroad, in turn, honored Mr. Whatley by naming the depot in his honor. The post office officially changed its name from Horeb to Whatley on August 20, 1890. Following the coming of the railroad and in the first part of the 20th century, Whatley was the trading and shipping center for the large, prosperous farming community. Several mercantile businesses sprang up around the depot. Mrs. Nancy Whatley operated a hotel in the business area and her daughter, Mrs. David Coleman, was proprietor of the hotel for many years.

Clarke County Alabama Communities

Alma Alabama

Alma is an unincorporated community in Clarke County. The community was named for Alma Flinn, a local teacher.

Antioch Alabama

Antioch is a small unincorporated community in Clarke County, located south of Grove Hill along US Highway 43. It has several small churches and a fire department.

Barlow Bend Alabama

Barlow Bend is an unincorporated community in Clarke County.  The first church building in Clarke County was built in Barlow Bend in 1819 by John French, a Methodist minister from Virginia. A post office was operated in Barlow Bend from 1877 to 1976.

Bashi Alabama

Bashi is an unincorporated community in Clarke County. It takes its name from the nearby Bashi Creek that flows westward into the Tombigbee River.The creek first appears on an 1844 map as Bashai Creek. Language scholars believe Bashi to be an adaptation of the Choctaw language word bachaya, meaning “line,” “row,” or “course”. The Bashi Skirmish in the Creek War was fought near the banks of this creek and took its name from the waterway.

Campbell Alabama

Campbell is an unincorporated community in Clarke County.

Dickinson Alabama

Dickinson is an unincorporated community in Clarke County. Dickinson  also has the highest percentage of Cubans in the state.

Gainestown Alabama

Gainestown is an unincorporated community on the Alabama River in Clarke County. It was named for George Strother Gaines. Gaines established an Indian trading post here in 1809.

The exact date for the founding of the town is unclear. However, the community was being referred to as Gainestown by 1815, following the end of the Creek War and subsequent closure of the trading post in 1814. Gainestown grew to be a large town during the heyday of river-based transport, but a slow decline began after the American Civil War.

Gainestown is located at 31.44544°N 87.69332°WCoordinates: 31.44544°N 87.69332°W and has an elevation of 266 feet (81 m).

Source: Wikipedia contributors, “Gainestown, Alabama,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Gosport Alabama

Gosport is an unincorporated community in Clarke County. Gosport is also close to the unincorporated town of Whatley, the two are usually confused with one another, and sometimes thought as the same place.

The telephone area code, is 251, while the ZIP code is 36482. Gosport is situated where the Claiborne Bridge crosses the Alabama River into Monroe County.

Woodlands, also known as the Frederick Blount Plantation, is a historic plantation house in Gosport. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 28, 1980, due to its architectural significance.

Gosport was recorded to have a population of 500 according to the 1850 U.S. Census, making it the largest community at that time in Clarke County, twice that of the second largest community of Choctaw Corner, which is today’s Thomasville.

Source: Wikipedia contributors, “Gosport, Alabama,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

McEntyre Alabama

McEntyre is an unincorporated community in Clarke County, also referred to as Bedsole, Mitcham Beat and New Prospect. It has been described as “Clarke County’s Criminal Colony.”

Morvin Alabama

Morvin is an unincorporated community in Clarke County.

Opine Alabama

Opine is an unincorporated community in Clarke County.

Salitpa Alabama

Salitpa is an unincorporated community in Clarke County. It has also been known as River Hill.

Suggsville Alabama

Suggsville is an unincorporated community in Clarke County, Alabama. It was laid out as a town in 1819 at the crossing of the Old Line Road and Federal Road. The name was chosen in honor of a local storekeeper, William Suggs. The first newspaper in Clarke County was published here, the Clarke County Post. The town had many residences, stores, and male and female academies prior to the American Civil War, but declined rapidly in the post-war period.

Tallahatta Springs Alabama

Tallahatta Springs, once called Lowder Springs, is an unincorporated community in Clarke County. It was once known for its mineral springs at the headwaters of Tallahatta Creek. A health resort was established here in the middle of the 19th century.

Language scholars believe Tallahatta to be an adaptation of two Choctaw language words: tali (rock) and hata (silver/white), literally “white rock.”

Tattlersville Alabama

Tattlersville is a community in Clarke County, located at 31.6293N, 88.0847W.

Walker Springs Alabama

Walker Springs is an unincorporated community in Clarke County. Walker Springs is located at 31.54072°N 87.79111°W

The Real Alabama—Part XXXVI

Thursday, July 29, 1965

Mr. EDWARDS of Alabama. Mr. Speaker, the history of Alabama records Some of the most interesting Indian lore of our country. Typical of the State’s Indian history, and also of today’s contributions to the State and to the Nation, is Clarke County.

I want to share the following summary of Clarke County history which provides a brief look at this part of Alabama.


Located in the southwestern part of the State, Clarke County is bounded on the north by Marengo County, on the east by Wilcox and Monroe Counties, on the south by Baldwin County, and on the west by Washington and Choctaw Counties. It lies in the angle formed by the junction of the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers, its western border being the Trombigbee, and the southeast border is the ollabama River. Clarke County was created by the Mississippi Territory Legislature on December 19, 1812. The county seat is Grove City. Clarke County is very rich in Indian history, with one of the most noted controversial (as to exact site) spots in Alabama history supposed to have been in the triangle at the meeting of the lost town of Mauvilla (Mabila) which is thought to have been in the triangle at the receding of the Tombigbee and Alabama rivers. Here at Mauvilla was fought one of the bloodiest battles with Indians in our history. These Indians were determined to defend their homes against the European invaders—DeSoto and his fellow explorers. These Turopeans seized their corn and made slaves of Indian men and Women. The battle was fought October 18, 1540. The Indians waited until the Spaniards reached Mabila for a large battle because DeSoto’s men were on horseback (the Indians had no horses—no Indians had horses in the New World until Europeans brought them in). They had muskets and light armor. Chief Tuscaloosa (Black Warrior), the proud giant for whom a river, a city, and a county of Alabama have been named, led the Indians of Mabila. When one of DeSoto’s men seized Tuscaloosa from his high throne after the first friendly gestures, the Indians were ready to fight. They rushed out of the houses of the Walled town and fell on the white men both inside and outside the wooden walls. Even Indian women and children joined in battle, and it lasted the whole day. As it became certain that the Spanish crossbows and muskets were winning, some of the Indians committed suicide rather than face slavery. The Spaniards set fire to the town. DeSoto was wounded but fought on—still mounted on his horse. Twenty Spaniards were killed and dozens wounded. Fire burned the pearls they had collected, and what remained of their gunpowder went up in smoke, plus many horses and much clothing. At least 2,500 Indians were killed, and perhaps more. Mounds in various places along the river show the existence of a very early aboriginal history. At Thornton’s Upper Landing, on the Tombigbee near Coffeeville, was located Fakitchipurta (Little Turkeys or Tombigbee Turkey Town) on both sides of the river—it was ceded in the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1820. Four miles South of Jackson,

a fort was built in 1813, as defense against the Indians, and in 1812 Fort Cata was built near the present Coffeeville. Then there was Fort Curry and Fort Ensley, all built within this period in Clarke County. Redoubt Pass and Landrum’s Fort, Fort Lavier, and Fort Madison, Mott’s Fort and Fort Sinquefield, Turner’s Fort, and Fort White were other defenses built at the time. However, Fort Gullett, 4 miles south of Jackson, was a Confederate fortification built on a pioneer fort, for protection of the salt well and works nearby. The fort was erected to keep Federal gunboats from coming up the Tombigbee River (Fort Hawn is the same as Gullett’s Bluff).

Cattle raising and timber growing, plus sawmills, make up a large part of the economy of Clarke County, and with such water power, such marvelous recreational facilities as this section is noted for (fishing and hunting), this county is really growing.

Jackson, Grove Hill, Coffeeville, and Thomasville are some of the cities in Clarke County. There are excellent schools which will compare favorably with any county, especially those classed as rural. Thomasville has been selected for one of the new State trade schools, which will give the people of the county additional opportunity in the field of education.


Clarke County Alabama Links

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