The first settlement in the area now known as Jackson was called Republicville. Early settlers traveling to the area had to secure "passports" to travel through Creek territory. In 1815, the Pine Level Land Company laid out a town that was originally dubbed Pine Level. The town was renamed Jackson on July 3, 1816, to honor Andrew Jackson for his role in the Creek War of 1813-14, which opened up the area to settlers. Some sources say that the town was incorporated in November 1816, while others cite the date as December 1822. A public auction of lots was held the first three days of July in 1817.
Because of its location on the Tombigbee River, Jackson was a thriving port and a manufacturing center in its early days. Businesses included tanneries, sawmills, grist mills, and dry goods manufacturers of such items as hats, saddles, and clothing. After a brief boom, the town languished, averaging only about 100 inhabitants during its early decades. During the Civil War, Confederate troops built Fort Carney on the Tombigbee River on Carney's Bluff, just outside of Jackson. The town's first weekly newspaper, the South Alabamian, was founded in 1887. After the coming of the railroad in 1888 (running from Jackson to Marion Junction), Jackson experienced a real estate boom in the late 1890s. Street lamps were first installed in 1900, and a number of businesses opened downtown. The first bank, First National of Jackson, opened in 1901.
The first school, an agricultural school, opened in the 1890s, as did the first school for African Americans. The agricultural school developed into the town's first "graded" school in 1909. A telephone system was installed in the early 1900s; it was bought by Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph in 1906. The town began supplying water to multiple homes in the 1920s through wells dug by the city; today, its water supply comes from the Tombigbee River. A power-generating plant was built in 1917; Gulf Electric bought a later incarnation of the plant in 1927, and it then became a part of Alabama Power. Jackson's volunteer fire department also was established in 1927.
A new high school for African Americans was constructed in 1934, and one for whites in 1935. After integration of the schools in the 1960s, the African American high school became the middle school. The current high school, Jackson High, was built in 1982.
Jackson was the site of a World War II prisoner of war camp, which was built in 1943 and began housing Axis prisoners that same year. At its peak, it held about 200 prisoners. The camp was dismantled after the war ended in 1945; all that remains of it today are a few concrete slabs on which some of the camp buildings were constructed.
Jackson’s population at the time of the 2010 Census was 5,228. Of that number, 54.9 percent identified themselves as white, 42.9 percent as African American, 1.4 percent as Hispanic, 0.8 percent as two or more races, 0.7 percent as Native American, and 0.4 percent as Asian. The city's median household income was $32,914, and per capita income was $21,822.
The workforce in present-day Jackson is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Manufacturing (24.6 percent)
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (11.7 percent)
· Retail trade (11.3 percent)
· Construction (9.7 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (9.0 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (8.6 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (6.8 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (6.1 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (4.7 percent)
· Public administration (4.3 percent)
· Wholesale trade (1.2 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (1.2 percent)
· Information (0.8 percent)
Schools in Jackson are part of the Clarke County School District; the city has approximately 1,964 students and 123 teachers in elementary, intermediate, middle, and high schools.
Jackson is intersected by State Highway 177, which loops through the city before rejoining U.S. Highway 43 (north-south). Jackson Municipal Airport is located south of the city and has one runway, serving general aviation.
Events and Places of Interest
The city hosts an annual Fall Festival in November, an event that has taken place since 1983. The festival often features antique automobile competitions, live music, food vendors, a chili cook-off, and children's activities.
The Clarke Mills building in Jackson is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Parks in Jackson include the H.W. Pearce Jr. Memorial Park, which features a nine-hole golf course, a swimming pool, basketball
and volleyball courts, picnic grounds, play areas, and a community center. The city also has a second municipal pool and a
recreation center. The 5,500-acre Fred T. Stimpson Wildlife Sanctuary is located 12 miles south of the city, and the Upper
State Game Sanctuary is five miles to the north.
Clarke County Historical Society. Historical Sketches of Clarke County: A Story of the Communities of Clarke County, Alabama. Huntsville, Ala.: Strode Publishers, 1977.
The Heritage of Clarke County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2001.
James P. Kaetz
Published February 1, 2011
Last updated July 13, 2012