Prior to white settlement, the Tallassee area was originally inhabited by the Creeks. Its name is probably an adaptation of the name Talisi, an important Creek town located nearby. Few settlers lived in the area until after the Creeks were removed forcibly from their land in 1832. By 1835, however, the town had been laid out and was inhabited by a number of settlers. The first post office was opened in either 1836 or 1837. In 1836, the services of the "Tallassee Guards" were offered to the Gov. Clement Comer Clay in the Second Creek War.
By 1841, the Tallassee Falls Manufacturing Company began producing first cotton and later wool cloth. The owners took advantage of the nearby Tallassee Falls to power the facility, the second such mill built in the state; it would remain a major part of the town's economy for more than 160 years. During the Civil War, the plant supplied cloth for uniforms for the Confederate Army, and in 1863 a carbine manufacturing facility also was constructed there.
During the war, the Tallassee Guards became part of the Confederate forces. Because of the arms manufacturing facility located in Tallassee, Union forces attempted at least two unsuccessful raids. After the war, the continued operation of the mills helped Tallassee weather Reconstruction better than most towns.
In 1900, the Tallassee Falls Manufacturing Company became part of the Mount Vernon-Woodberry Cotton Duck Company. The town itself remained largely isolated until late in the century, when in an expansion the mill built a railroad to Montgomery, Montgomery County. The first train ran in 1896. At the same time a dam was constructed across the Tallapoosa River to generate power for the mill and the town. In 1915, the Tallassee school system was established. Also in 1915, a fire damaged a number of buildings downtown, and in 1916 a tornado caused minor damage, in particular to the mill's company store. The mill, after some financial difficulties, was restructured as the Mount Vernon-Woodberry Mills Inc.
The Tallassee National Guard Company served in World War I, and a community library was established in 1921. During WWII, the mills received awards of excellence from the U.S. Army for production of war materials.
The last textile mills in Tallassee closed their doors in 2005, with the loss of approximately 580 jobs. The Hotel Talisi, a local landmark, burned as a result of arson in November 2009; it is in the process of being rebuilt.
According to the 2010 Census, Tallassee had a population of 4,819. Of that number, 72.4 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 23.4 percent as African American, 3.0 percent as Hispanic, 1.3 percent as two or more races, 0.6 percent as Asian, and 0.4 percent as Native American. The town's median household income, according to 2009 Census estimates, was $41,129, and the per capita income was $16,741.
According to 2009 Census estimates, the work force in Tallassee was divided among the following industrial categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (23.5 percent)
· Manufacturing (20.6 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (10.6 percent)
· Professional, scientific, and administrative and waste management services (9.4 percent)
· Transportation, warehousing, and utilities (7.2 percent)
· Construction (6.9 percent)
· Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing (6.3 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (6.0 percent)
· Retail trade (4.5 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (1.4 percent)
· Wholesale trade (1.3 percent)
· Public administration (1.3 percent)
· Information (0.9 percent)
Tallassee schools are part of the Tallassee City School System. They serve approximately 2,000 students and employ 112 teachers in one elementary school, one middle school, one junior high school, and one high school.
Tallassee is served by State Highway 14, which runs northwest-northeast through the town, and State Highway 229, which runs northwest-south. Tallassee Municipal Airport serves general aviation.
Events and Places of Interest
The Tallassee Commercial Historic District and the Tallassee Mill are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Confederate Arsenal House (Elliott House), the First United Methodist Church, Herron Hill, the Hotel Talisi, and the Tallassee Mill are all listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.
Tallassee holds an annual Trade Day arts and crafts show in October that includes food, live entertainment, and a children's
area. The city also holds a Farmers' Market each Saturday from June through late August.
Golden, Virginia Noble. A History of Tallassee for Tallasseeans. Tallassee, Ala.: Tallassee Mills of Mount Vernon-Woodberry Mills, Incorporated, 1949.
Wadsworth, E. W. A History of Tallassee. Montgomery, Ala.: Blount Foundation, 2004.
Claire M. Wilson
Published September 5, 2012
Last updated October 3, 2012