History - County of Covington in Alabama
31.24813 North, 86.45316 West
Land area: 2679.941 sq. kms.
County in South Alabama formed
1821 whose county seat is Andalusia. In 1980 the population was recorded as
40,373 but had dropped to 36,478 by 1990. The County has a land area of 1,035
square miles, an average of 35.5 people per square mile
Non populated areas: Antioch,
Beck, Beda, Beulah, Blairs, Blue Springs, Boston, Boykin, Brooks, Cedar Grove,
Clearview, Coldwater, Dunns, Duvall, Eoda, Estohel, Fairfield, Falco, Five
Points, Friendship, Harmony, Howells, Huckaville, Loango, McRae, Opine, Rawls,
Red Level, Rome, Rose Hill, Stanley, Stedman, Straughn, Valley of Shiloh,
Wiggins and Wing.
A coastal plain area bordering
on Florida, drained by Conecuh River and Patsaliga Creek. The area which now
composes Covington County, Alabama was originally inhabited by the Creek
Indians. There are Indian mounds, arrowheads and other relics to be found here.
Ponce de Leon came into
Covington County in his quest for the Fountain of Youth. Desoto explored Covington
County in the course of conquest and the Spanish established a little
settlement on the Conecuh River which came to be known as Montezuma.
After the War of 1812, Andrew
Jackson, former U.S. President, is said to have come from South Carolina and
travelled through this area en route to New Orleans. He cut three notches on
trees as he passed through this wilderness to enable him to find his way back.
Andalusia has an East Three Notch Street and a South Three Notch Street. Troy
has a South Three Notch Street. These streets are supposed to lie on the famous
"Three Notch Trail".
The State of Alabama was admitted
to the Union in 1819 and Covington was made a county by legislature in 1821. It
was created from Henry County. This new county was named in honour of Brigadier
General Leonard Wailes Covington, who was a native of Maryland, killed in the
War of 1812. At that time, Covington embraced several other counties, but
through the years has been reduced to its present size by the carving out of
Dale and Geneva Counties.
White settlers came from
Georgia on ox wagons to what is now Covington County in 1816. An early
settlement was near Green Bay. Another settlement was near Rose Hill, settled
by the people from North and South Carolina. The earliest church was
established near Rose Hill in 1823 and was called the Macedonia Church. The
earliest settlement was on the Conecuh River, four miles west of what is now
Andalusia. This community was the first county seat and a post office called
Montezuma was established in 1829. There was river traffic from Pensacola to
Montezuma in those days.
Immigrants flocked in from
Georgia and the Carolinas after a Federal Law of 1836 had ordered the Indians
to be moved west of the Mississippi. The first land sold by the U.S. Government
in this county was near the present Community of Heath and sold through the
Sparta Land Office in Conecuh County. Later, this land office was moved to Elba.
In 1841, the lowlands around
Montezuma were flooded. A yellow fever epidemic occurred which brought much
disaster and disease to the lowlands. The settlers were forced to flee to
higher grounds. They selected the highest point in the vicinity, a place of
safety on the watershed that today is the City Square of Andalusia. This was
called "New Site" until 1846 when a post office was established and
the town designated as Andalusia.
No one knows where the name
Andalusia originated, however, legend has it that Spanish explorers, Ponce de
Leon and Desoto, and their men were the first white men in this area. It is
felt that they were responsible for the Spanish influence. It is assumed that
since Spain has an Andalusia Province, that this City was so named because of
In 1868, State Representative,
Mancil, passed a bill in the Legislature of Alabama to change the name of
Covington to Jones County. His purpose was to please the Judge of Probate,
Josiah Jones, who had helped Mancil to be elected. Communication was not good
in those days and the first that Jones knew about it was when he met Mancil on
the street after his return home. Upon hearing that the Covington name had been
changed, Jones was so angry that he threatened Mancil unless he changed the
name back to Covington. Mancil then had the county name changed back to
Covington. Thus, Covington was Jones County for only the short period of four
months in 1869.
There have been five courthouses
in Covington County. The first was a log structure in Montezuma. The second a
log structure in Andalusia, which burned in 1878 and destroyed all records. The
third, a clapboard building was destroyed by fire in 1895. It was located east
of the town square in Andalusia and had one grave in the courtyard. The fourth
a brick building, occupied the centre of the town square in Andalusia and stood
until the present courthouse was erected in about 1916.
Toulmin's Digest, 1823
As of the census of 2010,
there were 37,765 people, 15,531 households, and 10,791 families living in the
county. The population density was 37 people per square mile (14/km2). There
were 18,829 housing units at an average density of 18 per square mile (7/km2).
The racial makeup of the county was 84.8% White, 12.5% Black or African
American, 0.6% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.4% from
other races, and 1.4% from two or more races. 1.3% of the population were
Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 15,531 households
out of which 26.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.2%
were married couples living together, 13.1% had a female householder with no
husband present, and 32.1% were non-families. 28.1% of all households were made
up of individuals and 12.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or
older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was
In the county, the population
was spread out with 22.6% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 22.8% from
25 to 44, 28.4% from 45 to 64, and 18.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The
median age was 42.4 years. For every 100 females there were 93.9 males. For
every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.4 males.
The median income for a household
in the county was $33,852, and the median income for a family was $43,468.
Males had a median income of $32,463 versus $26,241 for females. The per capita
income for the county was $19,822. About 15.7% of families and 19.0% of the
population were below the poverty line, including 28.3% of those under age 18
and 12.8% of those age 65 or over.
As of 2012 the
largest self-reported European ancestry group in Covington County is English
with 41.2% of people in Covington County citing that they were of English
descent. They were followed by people who wrote that they were of
"American" ancestry, who made up 16.0% of Covington county. Irish was
the third largest self-reported European ancestry with 14.5% of people in the
county writing that they were of Irish descent.
Main trades within Covington County
are cotton, corn, hogs and manufacturing. A particular place of interest is the
Conecuh National Forest in the South.
The Covington County Bank, 225
East Three Notch Street, Andalusia 36420 appears in The Million Dollar
Directory 1988 (America's Top 50,000 leading private & public companies).
It was organised in 1947, originally located on Curt Square in Andalusia and
began business with a staff of five. The bank moved to it's
present facilities in 1968. In 1985 it was purchased by local investors and by
1989 had a staff of 40 with assets of $73,066,881.
Other large businesses are the
Covington Casket Co. Inc., 140 North Cotton Street., Andalusia 36420 and
Covington Heavy Duty Parts Inc., 1001 By-Pass West, P.O.Box
1049, Andalusia 36420.
Owen, Thomas McAdory. History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1921.
Easy access through an extensive
transportation network makes Covington County a hub of business activity in
South Alabama and Northwest Florida.
Alabama Highway 55, with access to I-65, currently
undergoing four-lane expansion.
U.S. Highway 331, from
Montgomery to the Gulf Coast, undergoing four-lane expansion in Alabama.
U.S. Highway 84 is being
studied to determine the best route for future four-lane expansion.
Access to passenger air
service in Montgomery, Dothan, Birmingham, Pensacola, and Atlanta.
state-of-the-art municipal airport, located between Andalusia and Opp, supports
all business class aircraft with instrument approach systems.
New taxiway into hangar areas.
Global Position System (Aircraft Navigation & Approach System).
Government Defence Fuel (Aviation) Contract refueling facility.
Aircraft Traffic Control Tower.
Airport radar with Ground Control Approach capability.
New aircraft parking apron for 40 aircraft.
Heliport lighting and wind instrumentation systems.
Airport & industrial park sewage system with 3 pumping systems.
New airport industrial park road.
Pilot flight training capability.
183 acre airport industrial park.
30,000 square feet spec building available Fall '98
Recent Additions to Airport
5,600 feet of
Automated Sunfire Observation Weather System.
20,000 gallon JetA fuel farm with 3 rapid (HOT) refueling points.
Heliport Operations/Administration facility with new paved road and parking lot.
8000 sq. ft. aircraft maintenance facility.
4000 sq. ft. terminal and industrial park center.
16 single engine aircraft "T" hangars.
2 single engine aircraft stall hangars.
6 twin engine aircraft stall hangars.
County history books available at Andalusia library info supplied.by Nancy Blackmon
Covington County was officially declared a division
within the state of Alabama on Dec. 7, 1821. Where do citizens interested in history find that
or any other information about the origin, people and events that have made
Covington County what it is today? The answers can be found in the Andalusia
Public Library and in the work of dedicated historians who have put together
collections that preserve the story of the people and places of this county.
“We do have an extensive
collection of information on the county,” said Karin Taylor, director of the
Andalusia Public Library. “A lot of the material is in folder form where people
have gathered information and then donated it to the library.”
There are, however, hard-cover
books containing information about the county.
“From the Halls of Montezuma,”
written by Sidney Waites, contains sketches of Covington County.
“This book is really a collection
of recollections about the county and life in the county,” said LaFern Griggs,
reference librarian. “It is really an interesting book.”
“Early History of Covington
County, Alabama — 1821-1871” was written by Wyley Donald Ward, of Andalusia,
and “Covington County History — 1821-1976” was authored by the late Gus J. and
Ruby R. Bryan of Opp. Ward also has a book on land grants in the county.
“Those are the only books we
have at the library in published form,” Taylor said. “We don’t allow the books to
be checked out, but they are available for the public to come in and use.”
Those are also the books
listed in the libraries of major state universities. Neither the University of
Alabama, Auburn University nor Troy State University has ever had a history
student write a thesis on the history of Covington County.
They do, however, list the
books that are available on the county history.
“Lisa Franklin has also
compiled a lot of information about the county history,” Taylor said. “The work
she has done is extensive and covers a lot of personal history. We also have
census records for the county, burial records and newspapers on micro-film.”
There are also old phone
directories as well as cassette recordings of some people who shared their
knowledge of the county’s history.
“The individual information
that we have in folders is extremely valuable,” Taylor said. “There are old
newspaper clippings in some of them and information on every community in this
Both the Ward and Bryan books
began with the formation of the county. In his book, Ward gives more in-depth
information on the background and events leading to the formation of the
county, but overall the two books agree on the story
of the county’s formation.
“Most of the information we
have pretty much agrees and there aren’t a lot of discrepancies,” Taylor said.
“I think that is because people used some of the same sources.”
In the preface to his book,
Ward sets out his goals and purpose in writing the history.
“This book is intended to
serve as a quick reference to some of the major events and developments that
occurred during the first 50 years of Covington County’s existence,” he writes.
“The loss of all county
records by courthouses fires in 1839 and again in 1878 has allowed many facets
of the county’s early history to become lost, distorted or romanticized.”
Ward said his goal in writing
the book was to “clarify and put into perspective some of the more important
events which shaped the county’s history.”
Unlike Ward, Ruby and Gus
Bryan never lived to see their book published. In the book’s acknowledgments,
the Bryan’s daughter, Evelyne Bryan Thomas, writes about her parents’
commitment to preserving the history of the county that they came to call home.
“This book was conceived many
years ago by the author, my father, who began his serious collection of
information about Covington County and its pioneer families in the 1940s,” she
“He realized that much of the
county’s history was in the minds of its citizens, many of whom are descendants
of settlers, and he felt compelled to commit their information to print.”
Both books have much of the
same information about early county history, where they differ the most is in
the scope they cover.
Ward’s book goes through 1871;
while the Bryan’s history covers county events through 1976.
“Both are excellent books,”
Taylor said. “The wonderful thing about the Bryans’ book is that it has so many
pictures as well as the written information.”
Taylor said the books as well
as the other information available at the library are used a great deal.
“We have people from all over
the country who come to use our resources on the county history,” she said. “We
have had people from Florida, South Carolina, even Alaska.”
Taylor said many are searching
for information about their own family histories and come to the library
because the families have ties to Covington County.
“When someone is looking for
information about genealogy, the first place they go is often the library,” she
Those people who come to the
library searching for information owe a debt of gratitude to those who have
taken the time to preserve the county’s history, Taylor said.
“We are proud of the resources
we do have available at the library,” she said. “We are able to help people
find a lot of the information they are looking for.”
William D. Barnard of the
University of Alabama wrote the introduction to the Bryans’ “History of
Covington County” and echoed Taylor’s thoughts on the importance of those who
preserve local history.
“The way of life of our
forebears has an intrinsic interest for us, and it is often through history
such as this one of Covington County that future generations will know how it
was that the county seat was located in Andalusia, will learn of the origins of
River Falls and Opp,” he writes.
“It is here too that the young
may gain some sense of what it was to live in a different time, some appreciation
for the sacrifices and hard work of past generations and, yes, for the folly
and foolishness that is also a part of the common heritage of humanity.”
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