Founded in southern Bibb County near a spur of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad completed in 1898, the city of Brent was conceived by engineer Brent Armstrong, who had overseen construction of a railroad bridge over the Cahaba River. He collaborated with landowners Jesse Dean and Rhoda Cooper to develop the city site. A survey for the site took place in April 1898, and streets named by the Cooper family after family members were laid out. Armstrong bought the first lot for $25 and became the first postmaster; he however did not live to see the city prosper, dying in August 1899. Various homes and businesses followed, including a saw mill. By 1903, the city had grown enough to warrant its own railroad station, and the city incorporated in January 1913, a year after the first bank in the city was established.
On May 27, 1973, a devastating tornado ripped through Brent, destroying 90 percent of the buildings in the city and killing five people. The tornado extended 35 miles on the ground, the sixth-longest tornado track in U.S. history. The city has since rebuilt, and a site by the city hall was dedicated to the memory of those who died.
On April 27, 2011, a massive storm, causing numerous powerful tornadoes, struck the southeastern United States. More than 250 people were killed in Alabama, including one person in Brent.
Brent’s population at the time of the 2010 Census was 4,947. Of that number, 53.5 percent identified themselves as African American, 45.1 as white, 2.1 percent as Hispanic, 0.6 percent as two or more races, 0.2 percent as Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, and 0.1 percent as Native American. The city's median household income was $35, 044, and per capita income was $16,799.
The workforce in present-day Brent is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (17.9 percent)
· Retail trade (17.2 percent)
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (14.2 percent)
· Construction (11.4 percent)
· Manufacturing (11.1 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (6.4 percent)
· Public administration (4.0 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (3.6 percent)
· Wholesale trade (3.4 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (3.4 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (2.7 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (0.8 percent)
Schools in Brent are part of the Bibb County School District; the city has approximately 435 students and 23 teachers in one elementary school. Students attend Bibb County schools after the elementary level.
Brent is intersected by State Highway 25/5, which connects with U.S. Highway 82 to the north. The Bibb County Airport is located five miles to the east on U.S. Highway 82.
Events and Places of Interest
Brent is home to Miller's Pottery, one of the oldest continuously operating potteries in the United States. Established more than 150 years ago, the family-owned Miller Pottery produces decorative and functional items for sale to the general public.
The Okmulgee district of the Talladega National Forest surrounds Brent on to the east, south, and west. The ranger station for the park is located in Brent.
Each May, the town hosts the Heroes and Patriots weekend to commemorate the people who died and who helped their neighbors
in the tornado of May 27, 1973.
Ellison, Rhonda Coleman. Bibb County Alabama: The First 100 Years, 1818-1918. Tuscaloosa, Ala.: The University of Alabama Press, 1984.
The Heritage of Bibb County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1998.
James P. Kaetz
Published May 11, 2011
Last updated March 26, 2013