Once Cherokee territory, the Collinsville area was opened for settlement in 1835 when the Cherokees were removed forcibly from their land by the federal government. The settlement was originally known as Lynchburg after three brothers who were early settlers. The town's namesake, schoolteacher Alfred Collins, moved to the area in 1839 and became a merchant and innkeeper on a stagecoach route. He began buying the land on which Collinsville now stands. The town's name was changed to Collinsville sometime in the 1840s. According to some sources, Collinsville was incorporated in 1887 with a population of 304. Another source lists the town as having been incorporated in 1901.
In 1852, local entrepreneurs began construction of the Wills Valley Railroad through town as part of the route between Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Elyton, Jefferson County; construction was interrupted by the Civil War and resumed in 1870. In 1877, it became known as the Alabama Great Southern Railroad. Passenger service ended in 1970, but the line still operates as a freight carrier run by the Norfolk Southern Railway.
Collinsville was heavily damaged by fire twice, once in 1884 and again in 1900. The 1900 fire destroyed all but three buildings in the downtown area, burning some 27 businesses in all. Flooding from the Little Wills Creek was also a problem in the downtown area until extensive work on the creek channel and levee and flood wall construction was completed in 1939.
Collinsville's population according to the 2010 Census was 1,983. Of that number, 47.8 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 43.1 percent as Hispanic, 9.0 percent as African American, 3.0 percent as two or more races, 1.1 percent as Native American, and 0.1 percent as Asian. The town's median household income, according to 2010 estimates, was $28,682, and the per capita income was $15,512.
According to 2010 Census estimates, the work force in Collinsville was divided among the following industrial categories:
· Manufacturing (29.4 percent)
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (17.6 percent)
· Construction (12.9 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (9.7 percent)
· Retail trade (9.2 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (7.0 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (4.0 percent)
· Public administration (3.6 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, administrative, and waste management services (3.0 percent)
· Wholesale trade (1.5 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (1.1 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (1.0 percent)
Schools in Collinsville are part of the DeKalb County School system; the town has approximately 710 students and 48 teachers in one high school.
U.S. Highway 11 bisects Collinsville, running northeast-southwest, and Interstate Highway 59 cuts across the town to the west, also running northeast-southwest.
Events and Places of Interest
The Collinsville Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Collinsville Presbyterian Church,
Rockymount Cemetery, Ward-Elrod House, Willbanks-McReynolds House, and the McWhorter-Killian House are listed on the Alabama
Register of Landmarks and Heritage.
Brindley, Mabel. A History of Collinsville, Alabama. Collinsville, Ala.: The Study Club of Collinsville, 1966.
DeKalb County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of DeKalb County, Alabama. Vol. 1. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1998.
DeKalb County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of DeKalb County, Alabama. Vol. 2. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2008.
James P. Kaetz
Published August 29, 2012
Last updated August 30, 2012