Livingston, the county seat of Sumter County, is located in west-central Alabama between Tuscaloosa and Meridian, Mississippi, in the East Gulf Coastal Plain physiographic section. It has a mayor-city council form of government. Folklorist Ruby Pickens Tartt (1880–1974) and social reformer Julia Tutwiler, who founded what is now the University of West Alabama, are Livingston's most notable natives. Blues artist Vera Hall Ward was born in a nearby community, and the county courthouse grounds features a memorial to her.
The Choctaw Indians once inhabited the area surrounding what is now Livingston. White settlers began to come to the area after the Choctaws ceded their territory to the U.S. government in the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek on September 27, 1830. These early settlers came primarily from North Carolina, but some also came from South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, with a few from the North. In 1833, some town members formed a commission to organize the surrounding area of Livingston into what is now Sumter County. Livingston, named after statesman and jurist Edward Livingston, was chosen as the county seat. Livingston's first newspaper, The Voice of Sumter, debuted on March 1, 1836. Sumter County's first courthouse was built of logs at the intersection of Spring and West Main (now Chapman) Streets in Livingston. In 1839, the county constructed a frame courthouse to replace the log structure, but it burned in 1901. The probate judge's office was the only structure to survive the fire, and it now contains the county commission office. The present courthouse foundation was laid on July 9, 1902.
A lack of nearby water led most residents to settle close to one of the area's natural springs near what is now Livingston's Spring Street. In 1854, an artesian well, known today as the Bored Well, located on the Courthouse Square, was dug to supply water for the town. For most of the late nineteenth century, this artesian well water attracted visitors to the town for its supposed health benefits. In 1904, the town added a hand pump to the well and in 1928 installed an electric pump.
Livingston Female Academy was established on July 4, 1835, and Julia S. Tutwiler, a well-known educator, prison reformer,
writer, and supporter of education for women, became assistant president in 1881, changed the school's name to Livingston
Normal School in 1886, and retired as president emeritus in 1910. The Livingston Female Academy, after being renamed State
Teachers College, Livingston State College, and then Livingston University, is known today as the University of West Alabama.
Livingston's population according to the 2010 Census was 3,485. Of that number, 63.9 percent identified themselves as African American, 34.6 percent as white, 0.7 percent as Hispanic or Latino, 0.3 percent as Asian, 0.1 percent as Native American, and 0.7 percent as two or more races. The city's median household income was $26,798, and per capita income was $18,270.
The workforce in present-day Livingston is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (42.1 percent)
· Manufacturing (16.9 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (10.8 percent)
· Retail trade (6.9 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (6.8 percent)
· Public administration (6.1 percent)
· Construction (4.8 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (2.3 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (2.1 percent)
· Information (1.2 percent)
Schools in Livingston are part of the Sumter County school district; the town has approximately 867 students and 53 teachers in one junior high school (pre-K -8). The University of West Alabama is located in Livingston.
Interstate Highways 59 and 20, U.S. Highway 11, and Alabama Highway 28 all run through Livingston. Livingston is serviced by the Amtrak Railroad Company.
Events and Places of Interest
Each year, Livingston hosts its Sucarnochee Folklife Festival, which showcases artisanal works such as pottery, metal crafts, and quilting. There is also live music, storytelling, a cornbread cook-off, and a 5K run. The Sucarnochee Revue, a nationally syndicated radio show featuring Black Belt music, broadcasts from the University of West Alabama.
The University of West Alabama campus is home to a covered bridge first built in 1861 over the Sucarnoochee River and moved to campus in 1969. Courthouse Square features an old cannon left at Moscow in Marengo County by Union forces during the Civil War. A Confederate Monument, completed on June 17, 1909, as a tribute to the area's Confederate soldiers, also stands in Courthouse Square. The Sumter County Court House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Branch-Stuart Home, the Inge-Moon House, St. James Episcopal Church, and the Voss-Pate House are all listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.
Jaycee Neighborhood Park is a recreational facility that includes baseball and softball fields, areas for picnics, a swimming
pool, tennis courts, and playground equipment. Lake LU, located on the University of West Alabama Campus, offers boating and
The Heritage of Sumter County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Company, 2005.
Published May 19, 2009
Last updated April 2, 2013