Located in central Alabama, northwest of the state capital of Montgomery, Autauga County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the state. The town of Prattville began as a pioneering company town and was founded by industrialist and cotton gin manufacturer Daniel Pratt. Autauga County's proximity to the cotton-growingBlack Belt made it a manufacturing giant during the nineteenth century. Blues musician George "Wild Child" Butler was born in Autaugaville, and world-renowned soul and R&B singer Wilson Pickett was born in Prattville. Noted geologist and educator Eugene Allen Smith was born in the community of Washington Ferry. The county is run by an elected five-member commission and includes three incorporated communities, each governed by a mayor and city council.
· Founding Date: November 21, 1818
· Area: 595 square miles
· Population: 54,571 (2010 Census)
· Major Waterways: Alabama River
· Major Highways: I-65, U.S. 31, U.S. 82, State Route 14
· County Seat: Prattville
· Largest City: Prattville
Autauga County was created by an Act of the Alabama Territorial Legislature on November 21, 1818, almost one year before Alabama became a state. Carved out of Montgomery County, Autauga once contained portions of present-day Elmore and Chilton Counties. The county was named for the Autauga Indians, members of the larger Creek Confederacy, who once lived in the area. After the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, the area was included in the territory ceded by the Creeks in the Treaty of Fort Jackson in 1814. The first county seat was located at Washington, on the former site of the Autauga town at Atagi, and then moved to Kingston in 1830. The first courthouse, an Italianate structure designed by George Littlefield Smith, was built in 1870; it was replaced by the current courthouse in 1907.
In 1830, the Boggs family established its pottery, which is still in operation. In 1833, industrialist Daniel Pratt settled in Autauga County and built a cotton gin manufacturing company that became the largest in the world. Pratt likewise built the first railroad in the county and helped finance the state's first iron and steel enterprises and constructed the Old Plank Road, a public route between Washington and Prattville, his milltown, in 1848. In 1859, Pratt opened the Prattville Male and Female Academy to educate the children of his mill workers. In 1868, the county seat was moved to Prattville.
Major Cities and Demographics
According to the 2010 Census, Autauga County recorded a population of 54,571. Of that total, 78.5 percent identified themselves as white, 17.7 percent as African American, 2.4 percent Hispanic, 1.6 percent as two or more races, 0.9 percent as Asian, and 0.4 percent as Native American. The median household income in Autauga County was $55,165 compared with $40,547 for the state as a whole, and the per capita income was $25,004, compared with $22,732 for the state as a whole. Prattville, the largest city and the county seat, had a population of 33,960; other significant population centers in the county are Autaugaville and Billingsley.
During the nineteenth century, farming and manufacturing were the prevailing occupations in Autauga County. Daniel Pratt's cotton-gin business made Prattville the center of Alabama industry during the antebellum period. In addition to the cotton-gin factory, Pratt constructed the Prattville Manufacturing Company, which became one of the most successful cotton and woolen manufacturing companies in the South. He also built a millworks that produced sashes, doors, and window blinds, machine and blacksmith shops, tin and wagon factories, and a flour mill. The Civil War and Reconstruction disrupted the economy of Autauga County, and agriculture and industry declined as a result of labor and monetary shortages.
The workforce in present-day Autauga County is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (18.6 percent)
· Retail trade (13.0 percent)
· Public administration (12.8 percent)
· Manufacturing (12.5 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, and recreation, accommodation, and food services (8.9 percent)
· Professional, scientific, administrative, and waste management services (7.1 percent)
· Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing (6.9 percent)
· Construction (6.4 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (4.8 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (4.3 percent)
· Wholesale trade (2.6 percent)
· Information (1.4 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (0.8 percent)
The Autauga County School System currently employs some 900 teachers and administrators who serve more than 13 schools. In addition, the county contains two private schools, Autauga Academy and Prattville Christian Academy.
Comprising approximately 595 square miles, Autauga County lies in the center of the state, in the East Gulf Coastal Plain physiographic section. It is bounded to the north by Chilton County, to the east by Elmore and Montgomery Counties, to the south by Lowndes County, and to the west by Dallas County. The Alabama River runs along its southern boundary and numerous creeks, such as the Little Mulberry, Autauga, and Swift, intersect the area. Interstate 65 is Autauga County's major transportation route, running north-south in the far western part of the county. U.S. 82 and U.S. 31 are the county's other major arteries. Prattville-Grouby Airport Field is the county's only public airport.
Events and Places of Interest
Autauga County's gently rolling landscape is host to several outdoor parks and recreational areas. Cooters Pond Park, located on the banks of the Alabama River, contains boat ramps, covered pavilions, and large greenspace areas for outdoor activities. Other parks include Pratt Park, Wilderness Park, Heritage Park, and Overlook Memorial Park. The Roberta Case Pine Hill Preserve is a 374-acre Nature Conservancy property created to protect the federally endangeredAlabama canebrake pitcher plant. The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Capitol Hill, featuring the Prattville Marriot Hotel and Conference Center, is located off Interstate 65 near Prattville. The Nationwide Tour Championship golf tournament has been held at Capitol Hill for the past five years.
Since 1984, Prattville has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Daniel Pratt's cotton gin manufacturing company and other features of this unique town can be seen via a driving or walking tour. Buena Vista, built by William Montgomery around 1830, was the first designated historic site in Autauga County and houses the Autauga County Heritage Association and the Heritage Center Museum.
Mims, Shadrack. A History of Autauga County. Prattville, Ala.: Prattville ARBC, 1976.
Nobles, Larry W. Old Autauga: Portrait of a Deep South County. Brierfield, Ala.: Cahaba Trace Commission, 2000.
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