The first non-Indian settlers in the Hillsboro area arrived in the early 1830s, and the first post office was established in 1837. It was originally named Gilmersville after one of the first families in the area, and was located about a mile east of its current location. After the first railroad (later the Norfolk Southern) came through in the late 1860s, local resident William Gilmer won a contract to supply trains with wood for fuel and built a sawmill by the tracks on the site of the present-day town. Other businesses soon followed, and the original town site was abandoned.
The railroad made the town a shipping center in the area because roads were so bad at the time. The town's name was changed first to Hillsborough, and then in September 1891 the spelling was changed to its current Hillsboro. Hillsboro was incorporated in 1899. The Norfolk-Southern Railway still runs through Hillsboro.
Hillsboro's population according to the 2010 Census was 552. Of that number, 80.1 percent of respondents identified themselves as African American, 14.1 percent as white, 2.4 percent as two or more races, 1.8 percent as Native American, 1.6 percent as Hispanic or Latino, and 0.2 percent as Asian. The town's median household income, according to 2010 estimates, was $39,688, and the per capita income was $15,572.
According to 2010 Census estimates, the work force in Hillsboro was divided among the following industrial categories:
· Manufacturing (29.2 percent)
· Retail trade (15.5 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (14.6 percent)
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (11.0 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (10.0 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (4.1 percent)
· Construction (3.2 percent)
· Information (3.2 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (3.2 percent)
· Wholesale trade (2.3 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (1.8 percent)
· Public administration (1.8 percent)
Students in Hillsboro attend Lawrence County schools; no public schools are located within the town limits.
U.S. Highway 72/State Highway 20 defines the northern town limits of Hillsboro.
Hillsboro is located approximately three miles south of Wheeler Lake on the Tennessee River. Pond Spring, the General Joe Wheeler Home, is a historic site located between Hillsboro and Courtland, to the west.
The Thomas Holland House, the Tennessee Valley School, and Boxwood Plantation Dependency are on the Alabama Register of Landmarks
and Heritage. The Thomas Holland House is also on the National Register of Historic Places.
Lawrence County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Lawrence County. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1998.
Gentry, Dorothy. Life and Legends of Lawrence County, Alabama. Tuscaloosa, Ala.: Nottingham-SWS, Inc., 1962.
James P. Kaetz
Published June 21, 2013
Last updated July 5, 2013