· Area: 909 square miles
· Population: 13,859 (2010 Census)
· Major Waterways: Tombigbee River
· Major Highways: U.S. 84
· County seat: Butler
· Largest City: Butler
Choctaw County was created by an act of the Alabama State Legislature on December 29, 1848, from land formerly within the Choctaw Nation. Located in the southwestern part of the state, the county was named for the Choctaw Indians, some of whom had settlements near the present-day town of Pushmataha, named for the noted Choctaw chief. In the 1890s, Choctaw County received national media attention for what became known as the Sims War, which erupted after Robert Sims, a Confederate war veteran turned preacher, amassed a following of 100 parishioners and declared he and his followers owed no allegiance to an earthly government, should not pay taxes, and had the freedom to make and distribute whiskey. In 1891 U.S. marshals charged Sims and his followers with moonshining and put out a warrant for his arrest. In the ensuing months, skirmishes involving the marshals, a local posse, and Sims followers resulted in several deaths. Sims and a number of his men were eventually captured and hanged by a mob.
Major Cities and Demographics
Early settlers in Choctaw County produced cotton and other agricultural goods that they floated down the Tombigbee River to Mobile. The forestry industry has been the economic backbone of the county since its creation in 1847. In 1912, the railroad came to the county, reducing the reliance on water traffic and remained an important commercial transport method until the 1980s.
· Manufacturing (14.7 percent)
· Retail trade (13.0 percent)
· Construction (11.9 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (7.7 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, administrative and waste management services (6.4 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (5.8 percent)
· Public administration (5.4 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (4.1 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services (3.6 percent)
· Finance and insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (2.4 percent)
· Wholesale trade (1.4 percent)
· Information (0.9 percent)
Comprising approximately 909 square miles, Choctaw County lies in the southwestern area of the state wholly within the Coastal Plain physiographic section. It is bounded to the north by Sumter County, to the east by Marengo and Clarke counties, to the south by Washington County, and to the west by the state of Mississippi.
Events and Places of Interest
Choctaw County is home to the Choctaw County Heritage Festival, an annual event held every Memorial Day weekend. The county is also home to Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge, located along the Tombigbee River. The refuge, which includes nearly 4,500 acres, is home to alligators, herons, raptors, beavers, deer, turkey, raccoon, wood ducks, migrating waterfowl, and several endangered or threatened species including bald eagles and wood storks. The Old Naheola Bridge, which crosses the Tombigbee River, was built in 1934 and until it closed in 2000 was one of only two bridges in the world that carried rail and automobile traffic on the same road.
Heritage of Choctaw County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, Inc., 2001.