Historical Markers in
Cleburne County, Alabama

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The state of Alabama played a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, which was sparked by Rosa Parks' refusal to give up her seat on a bus, took place in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. The city was also the site of the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965, which were a key event in the struggle for voting rights for African Americans.
Cleburne County, Alabama has a rich history that is deeply rooted in Native American heritage. Before European settlers arrived, the region was inhabited by the Creek and Cherokee tribes. The area was part of the Creek Confederacy, a powerful Native American alliance that controlled much of the southeastern United States. However, the Creek War of 1813-1814 led to the displacement of many Native Americans, paving the way for European settlement.

The first European settlers arrived in Cleburne County in the early 1800s. They were mainly farmers and established small communities along the Tallapoosa River and other waterways. The county was officially established in 1866 and named after Confederate General Patrick Cleburne, who fought in the Civil War. The county's economy was primarily agricultural, with cotton being the main crop grown by early settlers.

The late 19th and early 20th centuries brought significant changes to Cleburne County. The arrival of the railroad in the late 1800s brought new opportunities for trade and transportation, boosting the county's economy. The opening of iron ore and coal mines in the region led to increased industrialization and attracted immigrants from Europe to work in the mines.

Like many rural areas in the South, Cleburne County was greatly impacted by the Great Depression in the 1930s. The economy suffered, and many residents faced extreme poverty. However, with the construction of the McClellan-Kerr Navigation System in the 1960s, which created the nearby Lake Wedowee, tourism and recreation became significant industries in the county, providing a much-needed boost to the local economy. Today, Cleburne County is a vibrant community that honors its history while embracing growth and development.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Cleburne County, Alabama.

  • ~10,000 B.C. - Native American tribes inhabit the area now known as Cleburne County
  • 1540 - Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto explores the region, encountering Native American tribes
  • 1800s - European settlers begin to establish homes and farms in the area
  • December 6, 1866 - Cleburne County is officially established as a county in the state of Alabama
  • 1870 - Heflin becomes the county seat of Cleburne County
  • Late 1800s - The county experiences significant growth with the arrival of the railroad
  • 1920s - The Great Depression brings economic hardships to Cleburne County
  • 1960s - The civil rights movement affects Cleburne County, with desegregation and voting rights struggles
  • 2011 - Cleburne County suffers significant damage from the April 27th tornado outbreak