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History of Henry County

State of Alabama Timeline

Henry County was created by an act of the Legislature December 13, 1819 - one day earlier than Alabama became a state on December 14, 1819. Henry County was carved from Conecuh which had been a part of Monroe after it was formed from Washington County, the oldest county in the state, having been created by the proclamation of Governor Winthrop Sergeant of the Mississippi Territory on June 4, 1800. The area of Henry County on December 13, 1819 was vast in area. It embraced the present territory of Covington, Dale, Coffee, Geneva, Henry, Houston, parts of Pike, Crenshaw, Bullock and Barbour. The present area is 565 square miles. After the creation of Covington County from Henry, a part of Conecuh was left south of Henry which was later added to Henry County. Henry County was named for Patrick Henry, the Virginian known as the “Fireball of the Revolution”, by the many first settlers from Virginia who came to this section.

Historical Marker: at Henry County Courthouse

Photo contributed by Jeffrey Palmer

The act of Creation named William C. Watson, John Fannin, Joel T. McClendon, Johnson Wright, Captain S. Smith as commissioners for the location of the seat of justice and establishment of the boundaries of Henry County.

The first commissioners were directed to superintend the erection of a courthouse and jail, and to levy taxes not exceeding one half the amount of state taxes to defray all expenses incident to put into effect the act to set up the machinery of government for the county. On December 18, 1821, the Legislature named William Beauchamp, Robert Irvin, William Irvin, Stephen Matthews and James Rabb to be county commissioners and fix a county site. They acted. The boundaries of Henry County were: Section six - and be It further enacted that all tract of country lying east of range line between thirteen and fourteen, south and east of the County of Butler, South of Montgomery County, West of the Indian Boundary line and the Chattahoochee River and north of the thirty-first degree of north latitude, shall constitute one county to be called and known as Henry County. Named in honor of Patrick Henry of Virginia.

Historical Marker: at Henry County Courthouse

Photo contributed by Jeffrey Palmer

They named the county site, Richmond remembering his speech there. “Give me Liberty or give me death” (From newspaper clippings (Montgomery Advertiser one of a series written by Peter A. Brannon) (1. Owens History of Alabama& Dist. Alabama Biog. paragraph I & II pg. 686. 2. The Story of Alabama Marie B. Owens p. 436 Vol. I).

At Richmond they immediately elected a representative to State Legislature, Benjamin Harvey. Precincts were located at homes of William C. Watson, John Fannin and Captain S. Smith.

The first court was held in the home of John G. Morgan, the sheriff, by Judge Reuben Saffold, a judge of the second district Circuit Court in 1820.

George Jones and Peter Simmons filled vacancies caused by the death of Benjamin Harvey and The resignation of Bartlett Smith on June 27, 1827.

Ca 1828 - The next legislature appointed commissioners: Moses Kirkland, Joel T. McClendon, Sion Smith, Moses Weems and Andrew Gamble. 

The county was reduced in size by the establishment of Covington and Pike on December 21, 1821, Coffee, Geneva and parts of Dale came from Covington County; Dale, December 22, 1824; Barbour, December 18, 1832; Houston, February 9, 1903. Present boundaries - Eastern, Chattahoochee River; Northern, Barbour County; Western, Barbour and Dale Counties; Southern, Houston County. The area 565 square miles. 

The county roads were in poor condition the ones leading to Richmond from every direction were almost impassible, travel only by horseback could be made without difficulty. This location better known as Wiggins Springs is now known as Wiggins Church, constituted in 1859. Dissatisfaction arose as to the location. It was decided to move it to Columbia in 1826. The log court house and jail built in 1820 fell within the limits of Dale County, the court house was sold and moved, the site bought by Stephen Wiggins June 26, 1829 Agreement between Thomas H. Freeman, Timothy Pittman, Ira Atkins. Deed Book A. B. p. 23 Duties as Tax Assessor and Tax Collector.

1822 – The first County seat was in Richmond, Henry County Alabama.

1826 – The first Courthouse was built in Columbia Henry County Alabama

1833 – Courthouse Built in Abbeville, Henry County Alabama

1845 – Courthouse Built in Abbeville, Henry County Alabama

1889 - Courthouse Built in Abbeville, Henry County Alabama

1966 – Current Courthouse Built in Abbeville, Henry County Alabama

This Page was Created October 2007 | Last Modified Friday, 28-Oct-2011 23:13:34 EDT