Located in southeastern Alabama, Geneva County is home to Constitution Oak, believed to the largest and one of the oldest oak trees in the state. The county's waterways offer excellent fishing and water sports opportunities. The county is governed by an elected five-member commission and includes eight incorporated communities.
· Founding Date: December 26, 1868
· Area: 578 square miles
· Population: 26,790 (2010 Census)
· Major Waterways: Choctawhatchee River, Pea River
· Major Highways: State Route 52
· County Seat: Geneva
· Largest City: Geneva
Geneva County was created by an act of the Alabama State Legislature on December 26, 1868, and was once part of present-day Dale County. The county was named after Geneva, the largest settlement in the new county and its only county seat to the present. The town was named by one of the first settlers, Henry A. Yonge, after his wife's hometown, Geneva, New York. The county's first court was held in a local school in 1869 until a dedicated courthouse was built that year. That courthouse was replaced by a brick structure at some point and burned in 1898. It was replaced in 1911, but the building burned again. A new courthouse was built in 1912, and that structure was torn down in 1969 and replaced with the current courthouse. This building was renovated in 1996.
In 1861, Geneva was destroyed in what became known as the Lincoln Flood, for the president at the time, and the town was relocated to higher ground in 1865. The town was devastated again in the Hoover Flood of 1929, after which a levee was built to protect the rebuilt town. The pattern of flooding continued, and Geneva has flooded several more times since the turn of the twentieth century. In 1901, the Alabama & Florida Railroad built a line through Geneva, connecting Georgiana, Alabama, to Graceville, Florida. The line operated until 1987, when the 23-mile Geneva spur was abandoned. In 1904, the Central of Georgia Railroad ran a line to Florala through Geneva County.
Major Cities and Demographics
At the time of the 2010 census, Geneva County recorded a population of 26,790. Of that total, 86.3 percent of respondents
identified themselves as white, 9.5 percent as African American, 3.4 percent as Hispanic, 1.6 percent as two or more races,
0.8 percent as Native American, and 0.3 percent as Asian. The median household income was $31,055, compared with $40,547 for
the state as a whole, and the per capita income was $17,697, compared with $22,732 for the state as a whole. The county seat,
Geneva, had an estimated population of 4,452. Other population centers in the county include Hartford, Malvern, Black, Slocomb, and Samson.
During the antebellum era, goods were floated down the Pea River to its junction with the Choctawhatchee River at Geneva, where it was eventually floated to the Gulf of Mexico. In 1923 the Geneva Cotton Mill was established. It later was purchased by Clinton Mills of South Carolina and by the late 1980s the mill employed almost 600 people. The plant was closed in the late 1990s. Farming remains an important component of the Geneva County economy, and present-day agricultural products include corn, hay, peanuts, soybeans, cotton, truck crops, and forestry products.
The workforce in present-day Geneva County is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (22.1 percent)
· Manufacturing (15.5 percent)
· Retail trade (13.6 percent)
· Construction (10.9 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (6.7 percent)
· Public administration (6.1 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (5.5 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (5.0 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (4.7 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (4.7 percent)
· Wholesale trade (3.1 percent)
· Finance and insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (1.9 percent)
· Information (0.3 percent)
The Geneva County School System currently employs 166 teachers who serve more than 2,700 students in nine schools. In addition,
the Geneva City School System currently employs 88 teachers who serve more than 1,300 students in three schools.
Comprising approximately 578 square miles, Geneva County lies in the southeastern corner of the state, wholly within the Coastal Plain physiographic region. It is bounded to the north by Coffee and Dale counties, to the east by Houston County, to the south by Holmes and Walton counties, Florida, and to the west by Covington and Crenshaw counties. The Geneva State Forest covers a small portion of the northwest corner of the county.
The Choctawhatchee River flows north to south through the center of the county, and its Hurricane Creek tributary crosses
the eastern half of the county. The largest tributary of the Choctawhatchee, the Pea River, and its Flat Creek tributary intersect
the western half of the county. State Route 52, running northeast-northwest through the center of the county, is the area's
major transportation route. Geneva Municipal Airport is the county's only public airport.
Events and Places of Interest
The Choctawhatchee River offers many fishing opportunities, including channel catfish, spotted bass, sunfish, redhorse suckers, and carp suckers. The river is also ideal for canoeing and boating and offers scenic cypress swamps and trees draped in Spanish moss. Fowler Park, located at the junction of the Pea and Choctawhatchee rivers in Geneva, offers scenic views of Constitution Oak, believed to be the largest and oldest live oak in the state. When the water levels are low, it is possible to view the wreck of a Civil War-era steamboat. In April, the town of Geneva hosts Festival on the Rivers, which features canoe racing, food, live music, and arts and crafts. In addition, the town of Slocomb hosts the annual Tomato Festival.
Heritage of Geneva County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, Inc., 2002.
Patricia Hoskins Morton
Published August 31, 2007
Last updated March 15, 2013