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History and Facts of Alabama Counties

Today’s Alabama counties did not always exist in the present form. They went through many different changes in the space of a few short years.

The U.S. Congress, in April 1798, created the Mississippi Territory out of lands north of the 31st parallel formerly claimed by the colony of Georgia.

Alabama Counties were first created under the Mississippi Territory, and after that the Alabama Territory.

The Alabama Territory was organized on March 3, 1817 from the eastern half of the Mississippi territory.  St. Stephens was the territorial capital from 1817 to 1819.

Originally the Alabama Territory had 7 counties. They were Washigton (1800), Madison (1808), Baldwin (1809), Clarke (1812), Mobile (1812), Monroe (1815) and Montgomery (1816).

The Alabama Territory lasted until December 14, 1819.

The State of Alabama admitted to the Union as the 22nd state on December 14, 1819. States bordering Alabama are FloridaGeorgiaMississippi and Tennessee

Alabama currently contains 67 counties.

Fun Facts about Alabama Counties

Counties by Year

Counties by Census Year

  • 1820 – Alabama had 29 counties.
  • 1830 – Alabama had 36 counties.
  • 1840 – Alabama had 49 counties
  • 1850 – Alabama had 52 counties
  • 1870 – Alabama had 65 counties
  • 1903 – Alabama had the present 67 counties

County Size Facts

County Population Facts (2017 Est.)

Alabama City Facts

Alabama’s 10 largest cities (2010) are:

  1. Birmingham (212,237) is in Jefferson and Shelby Counties
  2. Montgomery (205,764) is in Montgomery County
  3. Mobile (195,111) is in Madison, Limestone and Morgan Counties
  4. Huntsville (180,105) is in Mobile County
  5. Tuscaloosa (90,468) is in Tuscaloosa County
  6. Hoover (81,619) is in Jefferson and Shelby Counties
  7. Dothan (65,496) is in Houston, Dale and Henry Counties
  8. Decatur (55,683) is in Morgan County and Limestone County
  9. Auburn (53,380) is in Lee County
  10. Madison (42,938) is in Madison County and Limestone County

Map of Alabama County Boundary Changes from 1818 to 1980

This Interactive Map of Alabama Counties show the historical boundaries, names, organization, and attachments of every county, extinct county and unsuccessful county proposal from 1818 to 1980.

List of Alabama Counties

List of Old Former / Extinct Alabama Counties

At least 10 Alabama counties that were established no longer exist. These are important for genealogy research purposes.

The below Alabama counties no longer exist:

Baine County, Alabama

Created December 7, 1866 from BlountCalhounCherokeeDeKalbMarshall and St. Clair Counties. It was abolished December 3, 1867 and re-established as Etowah County on December 1, 1868.

Baker County, Alabama

Created on December 30, 1868 from AutaugaBibbPerry and Shelby counties. Renamed Chilton County on December 17, 1874.

Benton County, Alabama

Created on December 18, 1832 from former Creek Indian territory and named for Colonel Thomas Hart Benton. Its county seat was  Jacksonville.

It was renamed Calhoun County on January 29, 1858, in honor of John C. Calhoun of South Carolina. In June of 1900, The county seat was moved to Anniston.

Cahawba (Cahaba) County, Alabama

Created February 12, 1818 from Monroe and Montgomery counties. Renamed to Bibb County on December 4, 1820.

Cotaco County, Alabama

Created on February 6, 1818 as from created from land acquired from the Cherokee Indians by the 1818 Treaty of Turkeytown. The County seat was at Somerville. It was named for a creek that flows through it.

On June 14, 1821, the name was changed to Morgan County in honor of Gen. Daniel Morgan of Virginia, who fought in the American Revolutionary War.

Decatur County

Established on December 7, 1821 with Woodville as its county seat. It was named in honor of Commodore Stephen Decatur of the United States Navy.

Abolished / Dissolved several years later on December 28, 1825, divided between Madison County and Jackson County.

Elk County

Established by Mississippi Territory prior to Mississippi–Alabama split on May 9, 1817 with Woodville as its county seat. It was named for the Elk River.

Abolished / Dissolved a year later on January 26, 1818, prior to Alabama statehood.

Jones County, Alabama

Established on February 4, 1867 with land taken from the southern part of Marion County and the western part of Fayette County.

The County was named in honor of Fayette County resident E. P. Jones. On November 13, 1867, the county was abolished and the lands returned to Marion County.

Hancock County, Alabama

created on February 12, 1850 from part of Walker County. it was renamed Winston County on January 22, 1858.

Sanford County, Alabama

Created on October 8, 1868. It was named in honor of Commodore Stephen Decatur of the United States Navy. Sanford County was renamed to Lamar County on February 8, 1877.