Washington County Data
Washington County Neighbors
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About Washington County, Alabama...
Washington County was created on June 4, 1800, as a county of the Mississippi Territory by proclamation of Governor Winthrop Sargent. It was the first county in the state of Alabama, and the county's original boundaries extended 300 miles east to west and 88 miles to the north and south. Some 26,400 square miles of Washington County's original territory were carved out to make 16 counties in Mississippi and 29 counties in Alabama.
Washington County was named after the first president of the United States, George Washington. The earliest settlers came to the county from Georgia and the Carolinas. Most early settlement took place on the west bank of the Tombigbee River. Some of the first towns included McIntosh, Wakefield, St. Stephens, and Chatom. The southern portion of Washington County is home to the MOWA (Mobile and Washington County) band of Choctaw Indians, whose ancestors settled in the area after the Creek War ended in 1814. Although the MOWAs have not received official recognition from the federal government, the group was formally recognized as a tribe of Alabama in 1979, making the MOWAs eligible for such services as education and housing.
McIntosh served as the first county seat of Washington County. In 1804, the county seat moved from McIntosh to Wakefield. Neither Wakefield nor the first log courthouses remain in existence today. In 1811, the county seat moved to Rodney, which was eventually incorporated with Franklin into St. Stephens, which became the capital of Alabama Territory when it was established in 1817. Rodney remained the county seat until 1825, when the county seat was moved near present-day Millry. In 1842, the more centrally located Barryton was chosen as the county seat. However, Barryton became part of the newly created Choctaw County in 1847, so a new county seat was needed.
In 1848, "New" St. Stephens was chosen as the county seat, and a two-story brick courthouse was built in 1852. When the county seat was again moved in 1907, the "New" St. Stephens courthouse was purchased by the town's Masonic lodge and eventually given to the St. Stephens Historical Commission. Today, the restored courthouse serves as a town museum. The county seat moved in 1907 to Chatom, where a large brick courthouse was built. By 1960, the county had outgrown this courthouse. The original Chatom courthouse was torn down to make way for a larger, more modern one which was dedicated on September 14, 1965 with then-governor George Wallace as a guest speaker. New additions were made to the courthouse in the 1990s.
Washington County's economy was based in agriculture until the early twentieth century. The early economy of the county centered on the local timberlands, with some large farms in the northern parts of the county. By the turn of the century, large sawmills were operating throughout the county. Turpentine collected from the pine forests became the "cash crop" of the county.
In the early 1950s, large underground salt domes were discovered in the McIntosh area, leading to the establishment of salt mine operations and chemical production companies. Natural gas was discovered in the early 1970s in western Washington County, and Philips Petroleum built a refinery to take advantage of the newly discovered energy source. Today, timber remains the main industry of Washington County.
The county has a total area of 1,089 square miles, of which 1,080 square miles is land and 9 square miles (0.8%) is water. The population recorded in the 1800 Federal Census was 1,250. The 2010 census recorded 17,581 residents in the county.
Neighboring counties are Choctaw County (north), Clarke County (east), Baldwin County (southeast), Mobile County (south), Greene County, Mississippi (southwest), and Wayne County, Mississippi (northwest).
Communities in the county include Chatom, McIntosh, Millry, Calvert (partly in Mobile County), Cullomburg (partly in Choctaw County), Deer Park, Fairford, Fruitdale, Hobson, Leroy, Malcolm, St. Stephens, Sims Chapel, Wagarville, Tibbie, Vinegar Bend, Cortelyou, Escatawpa, Frankville, Sunflower, Yellow Pine, and Wakefield.
Washington County, Alabama Records
Alabama Genealogy & History Network has many records on our county websites. Thousands of County marriage records are located on the county websites. Many counties have cemetery listings. 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.