· Founding Date: December 10, 1812
· Area: 1,230 square miles
· Population: 25,833 (2010 Census)
· Major Waterways: Tombigbee River, Alabama River
· Major Highways: U.S. 43, U.S. 84
· County Seat: Grove Hill
· Largest City: Jackson
Clarke County was created by the Mississippi Territorial Government on December 10, 1812, from lands taken from Washington County. The county was named for Revolutionary War soldier and Georgia Governor John Clarke. The area was claimed by both the Creeks and the Choctaws, with the watershed of the Alabama and Tombigbee rivers being the dividing line between the two. Non-Indian towns were located along the Alabama and Tombigbee during the initial years of settlement, and the opening of the Federal Road brought even more settlers. During the Creek War of 1813-14, settlers built several forts in Clarke County to protect themselves from attack. In September 1813, Fort Sinquefield was the site of an attack by a Creek war party in which several settlers were massacred. Two months later, in November, militia officer Samuel Dale led a force of 30 men, based at Fort Madison, against a Creek war party and engaged them in a skirmish aboard canoes in the Alabama River that became known as the Canoe Fight. It would become the subject of much media coverage and legend in ensuing years. The Creeks ceded their claims to lands in the county in the Treaty of Fort Jackson in 1814, and the Choctaws relinquished their claim in the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830.
For its first 50 years, Clarke County was virtually covered in canebrakes, making large-scale plantation agriculture almost impossible. Despite this fact, farmers in the county, like those throughout Alabama, relied on cotton, along with some corn and wheat, as their primary agricultural product. By the 1850s, with the clearing of the canebrakes, the county saw an almost 55 percent increase in population. After the Civil War, with the decline in the value of cotton, Clarke County farmers tried to diversify their crops. At the turn of the century, the boll weevil ruined cotton farming and farmers began growing oats, wheat, corn, peanuts, pecans, peas, and potatoes, and began raising livestock, silkworms, and bees. Many also switched to the more lucrative timber industry, as Clarke County had an abundant supply of yellow pine.
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (18.2 percent)
· Retail trade (15.6 percent)
· Construction (8.6 percent)
· Finance and insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (5.9 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (5.7 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (5.2 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (5.1 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (4.6 percent)
· Public administration (4.1 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, administrative and waste management services (2.3 percent)
· Wholesale trade (1.7 percent)
· Information (1.4 percent)
Comprising approximately 1,230 square miles, Clarke County lies in the southwestern area of the state within the East Gulf Coastal Plain physiographic region. It is bounded to the north by Marengo and Wilcox counties, to the east by Monroe County, to the south by Baldwin County, and to the west by Washington and Choctaw counties.
Because Clarke County is still relatively undeveloped, it is ideal for outdoor recreation. Opportunities include camping, fishing, and wildlife viewing. The Tombigbee River and the Alabama River have seven boat landings and offer fishing and water sports. The rivers are filled with game fish including five types of bass, three types of catfish, white and black crappie, blue gill, and redear sunfish. Located near the town of Jackson is the Fred T. Simpson Wildlife Sanctuary, a 5,500 acre, hunting-prohibited habitat that is home to bobcat, coyote, fox, deer, rabbit, dove, and quail.
Heritage of Clarke County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, Inc., 2001.