Meridian Star

Editorials

December 11, 2008

Sumter County Alabama – Our neighbors to the East

Meridian is nestled nicely on the MS/AL line, and actually Sumter County Alabama is in the neighborhood, and grand neighbors, indeed.

The county was founded in 1832 and was named after Gen. Thomas Sumter of South Carolina, a Revolutionary War hero. The 907 square miles of territory were lands ceded to the United States in the Choctaw Treaty of 1830, also known as the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. The earliest settlers came to the county from the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia. Today the Encyclopedia of Alabama reports Sumter County is has an approximate population of 16,174 as reported by the U. S. Census Board of 2006.

In 1832, Livingston became the county seat and a courthouse built of logs completed 1833 and a second framed courthouse built in 1839 on the same site -- it burned in 1901. In 1902, the third and present courthouse was built on the same site, a domed, brick structure. The final courthouse has undergone several renovations yet is still in use today. The largest city in Sumter County Alabama is Livingston with a population of 3048 followed by York (2625), Cuba (334), and Gainesville (207).

Sumter County, as part of Alabama’s Black Belt area, was a top producing agricultural center with cotton, corn, and sweet potatoes as the main crops. The mighty Tombigbee River flows through the rich and fertile land and made easy access for the transportation of the goods. During the nineteenth century, Gainesville became the largest inland shipping port of cotton in the world. Gainesville’s success was and is clearly seen by the lovely old homes and churches located there. The First Presbyterian Church dates from 1837. The Methodist church dates from 1872, the St. Alban’s Episcopal Church founded in 1879, and a Confederate cemetery are located at Gainesville as well.

Today, as stated by Encyclopedia of Alabama, cattle are the major agricultural product, and lumbering is the major industry. Some of the larger employers are Mannington Wood Floors, the University of West Alabama, Chemical Waste Management, Livingston Apparel, Inc., Toin Corporation Packaging, and Custom Sheeting Corporation Paper Mill.

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