Hobson City is located in Calhoun County just south of the city of Anniston. At its founding in 1899, Hobson City was the only municipality governed entirely by African Americans in Alabama. It was named for naval hero Richmond Pearson Hobson of the Spanish-American War.
Hobson City began existence as part of the town of Oxford just south of Anniston. Oxford was incorporated in 1852 as a railroad center. By the 1880s, Oxford had become a recreational destination and was home to Oxford College. After Emancipation, the African American population was relegated to a section of Oxford known as Mooree Quarter. Because the residents of the community were permitted to vote in city and county elections, Oxford's white population soon sought to remove their sometimes decisive influence over city elections. According to local sources, in 1899, Oxford's mayor petitioned the state government to redraw the corporate boundaries of the city to exclude Mooree Quarter after an African American man was elected as a justice of the peace. On July 20, 1899, the 125 African American citizens of the excluded section petitioned the county court to incorporate as Hobson City.
When the town was officially incorporated on August 16, it was only the second municipality in the United States governed entirely by African Americans (the first being Eatonville, Florida, childhood home of Zora Neale Hurston). The first school, the Hobson City and Oxford Academy, was founded in 1905. The town benefited from the industrial boom in nearby Anniston with the rise of the steel industry, and by the mid-twentieth century, Hobson City had a population of 1,500 as well as numerous businesses. With the decline of the steel industry in Alabama in the second half of the twentieth century, the town has suffered from very high poverty rates and decreasing population. In 2010, the Alabama Historical Commission declared the town one of Alabama's "Places in Peril."
According to the 2010 Census, Hobson City had a population of 771. Of that number, 85.9 percent of respondents identified themselves as black, 12.6 percent as white, 1.3 percent as Hispanic, 0.8 percent as two or more races, and 0.4 percent as Asian. The town's median household income, according to 2010 estimates, was $29,759, and the per capita income was $12,239.
According to 2010 Census estimates, the work force in Hobson City was divided among the following industrial categories:
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (18.8 percent)
· Manufacturing (16.5 percent)
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (14.3 percent)
· Retail trade (11.4 percent)
· Public administration (11.0 percent)
· Wholesale trade (9.2 percent)
· Professional, scientific, and administrative and waste management services (6.6 percent)
· Transportation, warehousing, and utilities (6.3 percent)
· Information (2.9 percent)
· Construction (1.5 percent)
· Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing (1.5 percent)
Hobson City is part of the Oxford City Schools. The Ayers Campus of Gadsden State Community College is located less than two miles to the east.
Although no major roads run through Hobson City, it is bordered to the southeast by U.S. Highway 78 and Interstate 20, both of which run east-west. The town is bordered to the east by U.S. Highway 431. Anniston Metropolitan Airport is located approximately three miles to the south.
Events and Places of Interest
Booker T. Washington Park contains a swimming pool, tennis court, baseball diamond, and bowling alley. The town hosts a May Day celebration annually.
Claire M. Wilson
Published April 5, 2012
Last updated April 12, 2012