Pine Apple is a town in eastern Wilcox County, in south-central Alabama. From the mid-1850s to the early twentieth century, Pine Apple was one of many Black Belt communities nourished by the cotton industry. Today the city is known for its historic buildings; several Pine Apple sites are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Pine Apple has a mayor-council form of government.
The area's earliest non-Indian settlers arrived in 1815, and in 1820 a community dubbed Friendship coalesced around Friendship Baptist Church. By 1851, the population had increased to the point that a post office was needed; because an Alabama town called Friendship already existed, the town had to change its name. The origin of Pine Apple's distinctive name is uncertain. One theory identifies the town's namesake as the pineapple fruit, a symbol of friendship, but the most frequently cited theory attributes the name to the area's many pine and apple trees.
Pine Apple was officially incorporated by the state of Alabama in 1872. During the mid- and late nineteenth century, the town's growth was fueled by Wilcox County's booming cotton industry. Even during downturns in the cotton market, Pine Apple was sustained by both an expanding timber industry and the completion of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad's line from Selma—en route to Pensacola—in 1871. In addition to cotton gins and sawmills, the town included a doctor's office, pharmacy, bank, hotel, and newspaper. Pine Apple was also home to Moore Academy, a prominent public 12-grade school founded in 1883 by educator and writer Dr. John Trotwood Moore.
On December 25, 1903, a fire that began in the town jail spread quickly and destroyed nearly all of Pine Apple's business district. The town was later rebuilt and continued to prosper. According to the 1910 Census, the population of Pine Apple was 627, which rivaled Camden's population of 648. The town grew until 1967, when the Bank of Pine Apple (founded in 1903) closed. Following the bank closure, the general store, cotton mill, and saw mill also went out of business.
Pine Apple’s population at the time of the 2010 Census was 132. Of that number, 73.5 percent identified themselves as white, 24.2 percent as African American, 0.8 percent as Asian, and 0.8 percent as Native American. The city's median household income was $53,125, and per capita income was $29,814.
The workforce in present-day Pine Apple is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (25.6 percent)
· Manufacturing (23.3 percent)
· Construction (16.3 percent)
· Retail trade (16.3 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (7.0 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (7.0 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (2.3 percent)
· Public administration (2.3 percent)
Pine Apple is part of the Wilcox County School District. The town has one elementary school, with approximately 62 students and two teachers.
Pine Apple is intersected by State Route 10 (roughly east-west), which connects Pine Apple with Camden in the west and the city of Greenville in Butler County to the east. Route 10 also connects Pine Apple to Interstate 65 to the east.
Events and Places of Interest
Pine Apple has two sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Hawthorne House is a two-story, wood-frame plantation home commissioned by Joseph Richard Hawthorne in 1852. The property has been restored and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1985. Pine Apple's historic district has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1999 and includes 54 historic buildings, such as barns from the 1850s and the bank building erected in 1902.
Pine Apple's biannual Front Porch Tour is held in the spring and offers visitors a closer look at the town's historic structures.
In the fall, Pine Apple also holds Hunter Appreciation Day to celebrate the opening of hunting season.
Hale, Jennifer. Historic Plantations of Alabama's Black Belt. Charleston, S.C.: The History Press, 2009.
The Heritage of Wilcox County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2002.
Grant D. Hiatt
Published March 16, 2011
Last updated July 27, 2012