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Thorsby

James P. Kaetz, Auburn University
Thorsby is located in north-central Chilton County in the central part of Alabama. It has a mayor/council form of government.
History
T. T. Thorson Home
Thorsby was founded by three Swedish men who had immigrated first to the North but sought a more hospitable climate in the South in 1895 or 1896. The group included Theodore T. Thorson, for whom the town is named. The men formed a land company and advertised in northern newspapers for people to settle the area, attracting more Swedish immigrants as well as others from Norway and Denmark.
The town was incorporated in 1901, and the first high school in the county, Thorsby Institute, was built in 1906. The school later became a public school and today exists as Thorsby High School. Much of the town was damaged in a fire in 1914, but the citizens quickly rebuilt.
The local economy was sustained by agriculture, with farmers growing strawberries, peaches, and grapes, some of which were used to make wine.
Demographics
According to 2016 Census estimates, Thorsby recorded a population of 2,007. Of that number, 85.0 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 9.1 percent as Hispanic, 5.5 percent as African American, 2.0 percent as two or more races, 1.6 percent as American Indian, and 0.8 percent as Asian. The town's median household income was $53,315, and the per capita income was $23,158.
Employment
According to 2016 Census estimates, the workforce in Thorsby was divided among the following industrial categories:
  • Educational services and health care and social assistance (16.9 percent)
  • Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (16.0 percent)
  • Manufacturing (15.7 percent)
  • Construction (15.6 percent)
  • Retail trade (14.9 percent)
  • Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing (5.6 percent)
  • Other services, except public administration (4.0 percent)
  • Public administration (3.7 percent)
  • Wholesale trade (3.2 percent)
  • Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services (1.8 percent)
  • Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services (1.8 percent)
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extraction (0.6 percent)
  • Information (0.3 percent)
Education
Schools in Thorsby are part of the Chilton County school system; the town has one high school.
Transportation
U.S. Highway 31 runs northwest/southeast through Thorsby, and County Road 50 runs roughly east/west. Gragg-Wade Field Airport is located nine miles to the southeast in Clanton.
Events and Places of Interest
Downtown Thorsby
Although the Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish families in the area are largely now gone, Thorsby celebrates its heritage by holding a Swedish Fest each Autumn. It features a pageant, craft vendors, a car show, and food and live music.
Thorsby Public School is listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. Several houses in town were built by the original settlers, including the T. T. Thorson home.

Additional Resources

Chilton County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Chilton County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2000.
Wyatt, T. E. Chilton County and Her People. Montevallo, Ala.: Times Printing Company, 1976.
Published:  August 15, 2012   |   Last updated:  November 10, 2020