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Claire M. Wilson, Auburn University
Abbeville is the county seat of Henry County. It is located in southeastern Alabama in the Wiregrass region and, according to local history, was known as Yatta Abba by the Creek inhabitants, possibly meaning "grove of dogwoods." Abbie Creek runs through the town. Future Alabama governor William Calvin Oates established a law practice in the town in 1859 and, during the Civil War, raised a company of Abbeville men that fought at Little Round Top in the Battle of Gettysburg. Auburn University star basketball player Chris Porter was born and raised in Abbeville. The town has a mayor-council form of government.
Prior to white settlement, the territory that now includes Abbeville was part of the Creek Nation. Henry County was established in 1819, when Alabama first became a state, and Abbeville was among the earliest towns in the county. It was not until 1833 that Abbeville was designated as the county seat, however, after the creation of Houston County from parts of Henry County; the former seat of Columbia then became part of Houston County. That same year, the county constructed a log courthouse in the town. The town was officially incorporated in 1853. Abbeville's economy centered largely around agriculture into the early twentieth century. The arrival of the boll weevil brought hardship to the area's cotton farmers, and many diversified into other crops. As in the rest of the Wiregrass region, peanuts became the most important economic crop and remain so to the present; other crops, including corn and vegetables, are significant as well.
According to 2016 Census estimates, Abbeville recorded a population of 2,627. Of that total, 52.8 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 46.1 percent as African American, 1.5 percent as Hispanic, and 1.1 percent as two or more races. The city's median household income was $28,148, and the per capita income was $20,756.
According to 2016 Census estimates, the workforce in Abbeville was divided among the following industrial categories:
  • Educational services, and health care and social assistance (28.5 percent)
  • Manufacturing (24.8 percent)
  • Retail trade (14.2 percent)
  • Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (6.1 percent)
  • Transportation and warehousing and utilities (4.1 percent)
  • Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (4.0 percent)
  • Public administration (3.8 percent)
  • Other services, except public administration (3.2 percent)
  • Construction (3.2 percent)
  • Wholesale trade (2.6 percent)
  • Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (2.4 percent)
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (2.0 percent)
  • Information (1.1 percent)
High School Students in Abbeville, ca. 1925
Abbeville schools are administered by the Henry County School District. The city has one elementary school, one middle school, and one high school serving approximately 1,300 students and employing approximately 83 teachers.
Abbeville is served by State Highway 95, which runs north-southeast through the city; State Highway 27, which runs southwest from the city; and State Highway 10, which runs east-west through the city. General aviation is served by Abbeville Municipal Airport.
Events and Places of Interest
Bethune-Kennedy House
The city of Abbeville maintains two athletics complexes for residents who are interested in competitive sports. Visitors may also view several historic structures in the town, including the Abbeville Methodist Church (1896), Abbeville Cemetery (dating to 1841), the Bethune-Kennedy House (ca. 1870), the Clendenin mansion (ca. 1882), and the home of Alabama governor William Calvin Oates.
Each May, the town hosts Yatta Abba Day, which features arts and crafts and other forms of entertainment. In December, the city of Abbeville hosts a Christmas parade.
Published:  December 10, 2009   |   Last updated:  April 20, 2018