The first settler in what is now Autaugaville arrived around 1820 and built a gristmill and sawmill on Swift Creek, about three miles upriver from the Alabama River. One source says that the town incorporated in 1839, but another cites 1907. A cotton mill opened in 1849 on the banks of Swift Creek, and following upon the model of industrialist Daniel Pratt, the owner constructed housing for its employees, thus expanding the town. It expanded further when many citizens from nearby Vernon relocated to Autaugaville to escape the floods and diseases to which that town was prone. By 1851, the town had a population of 351 and could claim four stores, two churches, and two schools.
Additional businesses opened in Autaugaville during this period, including a cloth factory, a buggy and wagon factory, and a gristmill, making it a thriving manufacturing center. The downtown area was seriously damaged by a fire in 1853, but quickly rebuilt. Autaugaville's first and only newspaper, the Autauga Citizen, also began publication in 1853; it ended publication in 1873.
The Civil War and Reconstruction resulted in the closing of Autaugaville's factories, including the cotton factory, which saw its shipments seized by the U.S. government. The war and its aftermath would essentially end Autaugaville's status as a manufacturing center. The town incorporated in 1907, and the Alabama Central Railroad built a branch through town in 1911. At least one of several lumber mills operated periodically until the 1930s. In 1936, an Alabama Forestry Commission nursery opened near town. Currently, the Crystal Lake Manufacturing Company makes brooms, mops, and handles in Autaugaville.
Autaugaville's population according to the 2010 Census was 870. Of that number, 66.8 percent of respondents identified themselves as African American, 31.3 percent as white, 1.4 percent as two or more races, 0.8 percent as Hispanic or Latino, and 0.2 percent as Native American. The town's median household income, according to 2010 estimates, was $33,000, and the per capita income was $17,196.
According to 2010 Census estimates, the work force in Autaugaville was divided among the following industrial categories:
· Manufacturing (29.1 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (16.2 percent)
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (12.8 percent)
· Retail trade (9.1 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (6.6 percent)
· Construction (6.0 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (5.1 percent)
· Wholesale trade (3.7 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (3.1 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (2.8 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (2.6 percent)
· Public administration (2.0 percent)
· Information (0.9 percent)
Schools in Autaugaville are part of the Autauga County school system; the town has approximately 470 students and 34 teachers in one K-12 school.
State Highway 14 bisects Autaugaville running roughly east-west, County Road 165 runs northeast from the center of town, and
County Road 19 runs northwest from the center of town.
Autauga County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Autauga County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, Inc., 2001.
Gray, Daniel S. Autauga County: The First Hundred Years, 1818-1918. Prattville, Ala.: Autauga County Prattville Public Library, 1972.
Nobles, Larry M. Old Autauga: Portrait of a Deep South County. Brierfield, Ala.: Cahaba Trace Commission, 2000.
James P. Kaetz
Published February 8, 2013
Last updated February 8, 2013