Thorsby was founded by three Swedish men who had immigrated first to the North but sought a more hospitable climate in the South in 1895 or 1896. The group included T. T. Thorson, for whom the town is named. The men formed a land company and advertised in northern newspapers for people to settle the area, attracting more Swedish immigrants as well as others from Norway and Denmark.
The town was incorporated in 1901, and the first high school in the county, Thorsby Institute, was built in 1906. The school later became a public school and today exists as Thorsby High School. Much of the town was damaged in a fire in 1914, but the citizens quickly rebuilt.
Thorsby's population according to the 2010 Census was 1,980. Of that number, 89.7 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 5.7 percent as African American, 5.7 percent as Hispanic or Latino, 0.6 percent as Asian, 0.6 percent as two or more races, and 0.1 percent as Native American. The town's median household income, according to 2010 estimates, was $45,179, and the per capita income was $21,269.
According to 2010 Census estimates, the work force in Thorsby was divided among the following industrial categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (16.9 percent)
· Construction (16.3 percent)
· Manufacturing (15.1 percent)
· Public administration (7.9 percent)
· Retail trade (7.4 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (6.9 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (6.8 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (6.6 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (4.5 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (3.4 percent)
· Wholesale trade (3.1 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (2.9 percent)
· Information (2.1 percent)
Schools in Thorsby are part of the Chilton County school system; the town has approximately 831 students and 54 teachers in one high school.
Although the Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish families in the area are largely now gone, Thorsby celebrates its heritage by holding a Swedish Fest each Autumn. It features a pageant, craft vendors, a car show, and food and live music.
Thorsby Public School is listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. Several houses in town were built by the
original settlers, including the T. T. Thorson home.
Chilton County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Chilton County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2000.
Wyatt, T. E. Chilton County and Her People. Montevallo, Ala.: Times Printing Company, 1976.
James P. Kaetz
Published August 15, 2012
Last updated March 22, 2013