Hamilton is the county seat of Marion County. It has a mayor/city council form of government.
Located near the Mississippi border, the area now encompassing Hamilton was Chickasaw territory before white settlers entered the region. Hamilton was initially known as Toll Gate because it was near the first toll gate on the Old Military Road that was cut through the wilderness by troops returning to Tennessee from the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. In 1880, Toll Gate was selected the new county seat. Captain A. J. Hamilton donated 40 acres of land to establish and develop the town, and the town was renamed in his honor in 1882 when the county seat was relocated from Pikeville.
The first county courthouse was a wood structure built in 1882, and it burned in April 1887. The courthouse that replaced it, also a wood structure, was in turn replaced in 1902 by the structure that is still in use today; the original building, however, has undergone considerable renovation and expansion. The second courthouse was moved literally across the street from the current building and became a hotel; it was destroyed by fire in 1912.
On April 27, 2011, a massive storm, causing numerous powerful tornadoes, struck the southeastern United States. More than 250 people were killed in Alabama, including five people in Hamilton.
Hamilton’s population at the time of the 2010 Census was 6,885. Of that number, 89.3 percent identified themselves as white, 7.7 percent as African American, 3.1 percent as Hispanic, 1.1 percent as two or more races, 0.4 percent as Native American, and 0.2 percent as Asian. The city's median household income was $31,297, and per capita income was $17,442.
The workforce in present-day Hamilton is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Manufacturing (23.9 percent)
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (17.2 percent)
· Public administration (13.4 percent)
· Retail trade (9.6 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (7.7 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (5.3 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (5.3 percent)
· Construction (4.7 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (4.4 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (4.0 percent)
· Information (2.4 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (1.0 percent)
· Wholesale trade (1.0 percent)
Schools in Hamilton are part of the Marion County School District; the city has approximately 1,645 students and 105 teachers in four public schools (elementary, middle, high, and an alternative school).
Hamilton is intersected by U.S. Highways 78 (roughly east-west) and 43 (north-south). It also is served by the Marion County-Rankin Fite Airport.
About 3 miles south of Hamilton, a number of Indian burial mounds are located on the Buttahatchee River; they are accessible by a walking trail. The Jerry Brown Arts Festival, named for renowned artisan potter Jerry Brown, is held annually in March. The festival includes a juried exhibition sponsored by the Northwest Alabama Arts Council. Hamilton also holds an annual Christmas Parade.
Marion County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Marion County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2000.
James P. Kaetz
Published May 10, 2010
Last updated March 13, 2013