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James P. Kaetz, Auburn University
Leighton is located in eastern Colbert County, in the northwest corner of the state. It has a mayor-city council form of government. Soul musician Percy Sledge was born in Leighton.
The first settlers in what is now Leighton arrived as early as 1813. The community's first name was Crossroads, for its location at the intersection of one road that ran from the Tennessee River to Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa County, and another that connected Huntsville, Madison County, to Tuscumbia, Colbert County. The first business at the intersection was a tavern.
Mural by Leighton Students
The name was changed to Leighton for Rev. William Leigh, a minister and entrepreneur who also served as the first postmaster in 1824. In 1826, the town's population expanded dramatically after 20 families from North Carolina settled there. In 1830, the Tennessee Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church founded the all-male LaGrange College in the Leighton community of LaGrange; the college operated until it was burned by Union troops during the Civil War. In 1833, the Tuscumbia, Courtland, and Decatur Railroad built a line through the city, and Leighton became a shipping center for cotton. The town incorporated in 1890 and remained a major shipping center well into the twentieth century.
Leighton's population according to the 2010 Census was 934. Of that number, 50.3 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 45.7 percent as African American, 4.0 percent as Hispanic or Latino, 2.4 percent as two or more races, and 0.4 percent as Asian. The town's median household income, according to 2010 estimates, was $71,497, and the per capita income was $28,508.
According to 2010 Census estimates, the work force in Leighton was divided among the following industrial categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (20.0 percent)
· Manufacturing (18.0 percent)
· Retail trade (10.3 percent)
· Construction (9.4 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste   management services (7.8 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (7.1   percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (6.7 percent)
· Wholesale trade (5.7 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (5.0 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (4.5 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (2.6 percent)
· Public administration (2.1 percent)
· Information (0.9 percent)
Schools in Leighton are part of the Colbert County school system; the town has approximately 1,085 students and 68 teachers in two elementary schools and one high school.
County Highway 48 bisects Leighton running north-south, and County Road 22 bisects the town running east-west.
Events and Places of Interest
Old Brick Presbyterian Church
The John Johnson House near Leighton, the Old Brick Presbyterian Church north of Leighton, Preuit Oaks just south of Leighton, the Tabie House, the Leighton Training School/Leighton Middle School, the LaGrange Cemetery, and the LaGrange College Site (now part of the LaGrange College Site Park living-history center) are listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Historic Places.
The John Johnson House, the Old Brick Presbyterian Church, Preuit Oaks, and the LaGrange Rock Shelter are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Additional Resources

Colbert County Heritage Book Committee. Heritage of Colbert County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, Inc., 1999.
Published:  March 7, 2013   |   Last updated:  May 14, 2018