Daphne is centrally located in Baldwin County, 11 miles east of Mobile, 45 miles west of Pensacola, Florida, and 150 southwest of Montgomery. The city rests on bluffs that vary from sea level to 120 feet high above Mobile Bay. Daphne is known as the Jubilee City because it is the site of "jubilees," rare events in which an unusually large number of crabs, fish, and shrimp become trapped in shallow waters along the coastline. Daphne is governed by a mayor and eight-member city council.
Before the arrival of Europeans, Tensaw, Alabama, Creek, Seminole, and Choctaw Indians lived in the area that now includes Daphne. Historical records document visits from European and Spanish explorers around 1557. The region was under the control of the Spanish until the late 1600s. In 1773, a settled area above Daphne known as "the Village" served as a site for meetings with local Indian leaders and for conducting important business.
During the first half of the nineteenth century, the Daphne area was known by its three landings: Belrose, Hollywood, and Shorts. The town itself was settled in 1874. William Howard, a prosperous hotel owner, became the postmaster of the settlement and gave the town its name, possibly after the exotic shrub that his wife admired and planted.
At a time when rivers were the only means of transportation to and from Mobile, Daphne was the ideal location for a county seat and served in that capacity from 1868 to 1901. With the expansion of the railroad and a new Mobile line connecting Bay Minette with northwest Florida, business leaders and politicians campaigned for the county seat to be moved to Bay Minette, a move approved by the Alabama State Legislature on February 5, 1901. Daphne leaders and officials, however, refused to relinquish the county and court records, leading Bay Minette officials to steal the records in the middle of the night in October 1901.
Daphne’s population at the time of the 2010 Census was 21,570. Of that number, 84.1 percent identified themselves as white, 11.8 percent as African American, 2.9 percent as Hispanic, 1.5 percent as Asian, 1.2 percent as two or more races, 0.4 percent as Native American, and 0.1 percent as Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. The city's median household income was $60,625, and per capita income was $32,007.
Initially, agriculture was Daphne's largest industry and employer. The region's good soil and long growing season brought an expansion of the settlement around 1888. Italian immigrant Alexandro Maestro Valerio was among the proponents of the new town and encouraged other immigrants to join him. Agriculture remains an important part of Daphne's economy, with cattle, vegetables and fruits, and pecans being among the most common commodities produced by local farmers.
The workforce in present-day Daphne is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (19.6 percent) · Retail trade (18.0 percent) · Manufacturing (11.4 percent) · Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (10.4 percent) · Other services, except public administration (8.5 percent) · Transportation and warehousing and utilities (7.0 percent) · Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (6.4 percent) · Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (5.9 percent) · Construction (5.2 percent) · Wholesale trade (3.5 percent) · Public administration (2.3 percent) · Information (1.1 percent) · Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (0.6 percent)
The Daphne Public School System includes three elementary schools, an intermediate school, and a high school serving approximately 3,750 students and employing approximately 400 teachers. In addition to the public schools, Daphne is home to three private schools: Bayside Academy, Christ the King School, and Eastern Shore Christian School.
Daphne is served by U.S. Highways 90, 98, and 31. Highway 98 connects to Interstate 10, which connects with Mobile to the west and Pensacola to the east. Daphne is served by the Fairhope Municipal Airport and is less than 30 minutes away from Mobile Regional Airport.
Events and Places of Interest
The city of Daphne has numerous public facilities, including an 18,000 square foot library, a recreational center, a civic center, and Bayfront Park. The city also hosts a number of events featuring live music and local cuisine and seafood. Major events include the Eastern Shore Jubilee Festival held annually in September, the Gulf Coast Zydeco Music and Crawfish Festival held annually in May, Taste of the Eastern Shore, held annually in August, and Summer Art in the Park. The Eastern Shore Jubilee Festival sees a turnout of approximately 30,000 to 35,000 visitors annually.
Baldwin County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Baldwin County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2001.
Comings, L. J. Newcomb, and Martha M. Albers. A Brief History of Baldwin County. Fairhope, Ala.: Baldwin County Historical Society, 1928.
Lewis, Jon C. and Outlaw, Harriet Brill. Images of America: Baldwin County. Charleston, S.C., Portsmouth, N.H., San Francisco: Arcadia Publishing, 2009.
Scott, Richard, and Florence Scott. Daphne. Mobile, Ala.: Jordan Publishing Company, 1965.
Welcome to your free, online resource on Alabama history, culture, geography, and natural environment. This site offers articles on Alabama's famous people, historic events, sports, art, literature, industry, government, plant and animal life, agriculture, recreation, and so much more.