Located in the Black Belt region, Bullock County is the birthplace of civil-rights activist Virginia Foster Durr. The county is also home to one of the first public gardens in the United States and the oldest chartered garden club in the nation. Currently, the region is known for its hunting and field trial lands. The county is run by an elected five-member commission.
· Founding Date: December 5, 1866 · Area: 625 square miles · Population: 10,914 (2010 Census) · Major Waterways: Conecuh River · Major Highways: U.S. 29, U.S. 82 · County Seat: Union Springs · Largest City: Union Springs
Bullock County was created by an Act of the State Legislature on December 5, 1866. Carved out of parts of Macon, Pike, Montgomery, and Barbour counties, it was named for Alabama native and Confederate colonel E. C. Bullock. Like much of southeastern Alabama, Bullock County was once the home of the Creek Indians. During the Treaty of Fort Jackson in 1814, the Creeks ceded 23 million acres of land in Alabama and Georgia to the U.S. government. The boundary of the lands ceded by the Creeks ran across present-day Bullock County from northeast of Mitchell Station to southeast of Pine Grove. Following Alabama statehood and Creek Indian Removal in the 1830s, settlers began pouring into present day Bullock County. The richness of the soil in the area made it highly conducive to cotton production and the county quickly became one of the richest in the state.
Like many counties in Alabama, Bullock County was devastated by the Civil War. With a pre-war slave population of approximately 70 percent, Bullock County had once been a major area of agricultural production, but Emancipation and Reconstruction caused a sharp decline in its output. Bullock County elected two African Americans to the state legislature, but the aftermath of the war, along with the boll weevil, however, greatly reduced the wealth of the area. In the early twentieth century several cotton mills, owned by the Comer family, opened in Union Springs. In addition, the early 1920s saw once fertile cotton lands converted into wealthy Amateur Field Trial (competitions for bird dogs) lands. The largest, and one of the most profitable, of the game reserves was owned by the Maytag family, founders of Maytag Appliance Corporation.
At the time of the 2000 Census Bullock County recorded a population of 10,914. Of that total, 70.2 percent of respondents identified themselves as African American, 23.0 percent as white, 7.1 percent as Hispanic, 0.8 percent as two or more races, 0.2 percent as Native American, and 0.2 percent as Asian. The county seat, Union Springs, had a population of 3,980. The only other significant population center is Midway. The median household income for Bullock County was $31,602, as compared with $40,547 for the rest of the state, and the per capita income was $20,289, as compared with $22,732.
During the nineteenth century, Bullock County was the center of the cotton industry. The rich soils of the Black Belt were excellent for cotton farming, and Bullock County became one of the wealthiest counties. The Civil War and the boll weevil devastated the industry by the early twentieth century, however. As cotton production declined, farmers attempted to diversify with other crops such as corn and alfalfa. In addition, exhausted agricultural lands were sold for use as bird-dog training and hunting lands.
According to the United States Census for the year 2000, Bullock County was the poorest county in the state of Alabama and one of the poorest in the nation, with 33 percent of the population living in poverty. The majority of jobs in present-day Bullock county are centered around agriculture, forestry, and hunting and fishing. In addition, several poultry and poultry-processing plants are located in the area, as is the Bonnie Plant Farm headquarters.
The workforce in present-day Bullock County is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Manufacturing (26.5 percent) · Educational services, and health care and social assistance (15.2 percent) · Retail trade (10.6 percent) · Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (8.7 percent) · Construction (8.4 percent) · Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (8.2 percent) · Public administration (6.5 percent) · Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services (3.5 percent) · Wholesale trade (3.2 percent) · Information (3.2 percent) · Other services, except public administration (3.1 percent) · Finance and insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (2.0 percent) · Professional, scientific, management, administrative, and waste management services (0.8 percent)
The Bullock County School System currently employs 122 teachers and administrators who serve 1,952 students in six schools. In addition the county contains one private school.
Comprising approximately 625 square miles, Bullock County lies in the southeastern area of the state, wholly within the Black Belt region. It is bounded to the north by Macon County, to the east and southeast by Russell and Barbour counties, to the southwest Pike County, and to the west by Montgomery County.
The Conecuh River runs through the center of the county while the Pea River, a tributary of the Choctawhatchee River, runs along the southeastern border of the county. In addition, numerous creeks such as the Bughall Creek, a tributary of the Tallapoosa River, Old Town Creek, and Line Creek intersect the area. U.S. 29 and U.S. 82 are Bullock County's major transportation routes, running east to west and north to south.
Events and Places of Interest
Bullock County is renowned as one of the best hunting areas in the state. Beginning in the early twentieth century, Sedgefields Plantation, near Union Springs, began hosting hunters from all over the world. Each February Bullock County hosts a series of field trials, known as Amateur Free For Alls, at which bird dogs and their trainers display their quail-hunting abilities. Union Springs, the county seat and largest town in the area, is known as the Field Trial Capital of the World. In addition, Bullock County is home to several deer and turkey hunting preserves and hosts one of the few fox-hunting communities in the nation.
Bullock County is home to several antebellum historic homes including the Bonus-Foster-Chapman House, childhood home of Alabama Civil Right's activist Virginia Foster Durr, and the McCaslan-Garner House. In 2003, Trinity Episcopal Church in Union Springs was converted into the Red Door Theater. Each spring, the theater hosts "Conecuh People . . . The Experience" a play written by Ty Adams and adapted from Bullock County native and historian Wade Hall's autobiographical book of the same name. Also notable is Chunnenuggee Garden, one of the first public gardens in the United States and Alabama's first public garden. The Chunnenuggee Garden Club maintains the gardens and is the oldest chartered garden club in the United States.
Hall, Wade. Conecuh People: Words of Life from the Alabama Black Belt . Montgomery, Ala.: New South Books, 2004.
Hamilton, John Floyd. A Study of the Social and Economic Conditions in Bullock County . Master's thesis, Auburn University, 1939.
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