Located in northwest Alabama, Lawrence County was the birthplace and boyhood home of Olympian Jesse Owens, who lived in the community of Oakville. The county is also home to large prehistoric earthen mounds constructed by Native Americans of the Mississippian tradition. The county is governed by an elected five-member commission and includes the incorporated communities of Moulton, Courtland, Hillsboro, North Courtland, and Town Creek.
· Founding Date: February 6, 1818
On April 27, 2011, a massive storm, causing numerous powerful tornadoes, struck the southeastern United States. More than
250 people were killed in Alabama, including 14 people in the Lawrence County communities of Chaleybeate (3), Hillsboro (1),
Langtown (2), Mt. Moriah (2), Moulton (1), and Mount Hope (5).
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Lawrence County was 34,339 in 2010. Of that total, 77.6 percent of
respondents identified themselves as white, 11.5 percent as African American, 5.7 percent as Native American, 4.3 as two or
more races, 1.7 percent as Hispanic, and 0.1 percent as Asian. The largest city in Lawrence County is Moulton, with an estimated
population of 3,471. Other significant population centers include Town Creek, North Courtland, and Courtland. The median household income was $39,394, compared with $40,547 for the
state as a whole, and the per capita income was $18,961, compared with $22,732 for the state as a whole.
The workforce in present-day Lawrence County is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Manufacturing (22.9 percent)
Lawrence County encompasses nearly 700 square miles. The northern three-quarters of the county is located within the Highland Rim physiographic section, whereas the southern one-quarter of the county is located within the Cumberland Plateau physiographic section. The county is dotted with oak and pine forests, and the landscape consists of limestone valleys and uplands as well as some level plains. A portion of the Plateau Coal Region of the Warrior Coal Field sits in the southern part of the county. Lawrence County is bordered by Lauderdale and Limestone counties and the Tennessee River to the north, Morgan County to the east, Winston County to the south, Franklin County on the west, and Colbert County and Town Creek to the northwest.
The Tennessee River and Wheeler Lake run along the northern border of Lawrence County, and the river's tributaries fan out throughout the county. The Tennessee River is considered to be among the most biologically diverse rivers in the entire United States, with many fish and mussel species at risk. The river offers a range of economic and recreational opportunities for Lawrence County. Several minor tributaries of the Black Warrior River dip into the southern part of the county.
U.S. Highway 72 is Lawrence County's main transportation route and connects the county to the economic hub of Huntsville. U.S. Highway 72 runs east-west through the northern part of the county. The Lawrence County Airport in Courtland is the
county's only public airport.
The Jesse Owens Memorial Park and Museum in Oakville is a popular attraction. An eight-foot, one-ton bronze statue of Owens sits at the center of the park, which includes a visitors center, a museum, an Olympic-sized track, a walking trail, and replicas of the 1936 Olympic torch and Owens' boyhood home. Each year on the third Saturday in May, Moulton hosts the Jesse Owens Memorial Run, which attracts 2,000 runners for 10K, one-mile, and two-mile runs.
The Oakville Indian Mounds are another popular attraction in the county. The complex features a 2,000-year-old Woodland period mound, a Copena period burial mound, and a museum modeled after a traditional seven-sided Cherokee Council House. The museum contains a 12-foot wooden statue of Sequoyah plus thousands of artifacts. In Hillsboro, visitors can tour Pond Spring, the plantation and home of Confederate general Joe Wheeler. The property is run by the Alabama Historical Commission, and the home contains original furniture, china, uniforms, military medals, portraits, Civil War memorabilia, and other family items. An old log house and the family cemetery reside on the surrounding grounds.
Not far from the Wheeler home, visitors can tour the historic town of Courtland, which was named to the National Register of Historic Places. The town's structures offer visitors a range of architectural styles that span nearly two centuries. Visitors can take part in a self-guided driving tour of the district, or they can join a guided walking tour every Saturday between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.
Donna J. Siebenthaler
Published August 20, 2007
The Encyclopedia of Alabama TM & © 2004. All Rights Reserved.