Hokes Bluff is located on a high bluff overlooking the Coosa River in southeast Etowah County in the northeast part of the state. John Henry Wisdom, often described as the Paul Revere of the Confederacy for his ride from Gadsden to Rome, Georgia, to warn its inhabitants of a Union raiding party led by Col. Abel D. Streight, resided in Hokes Bluff the latter party of his life and passed away there in 1909.
The area on which Hokes Bluff now stands was originally Cherokee territory; when the Cherokee were forced from their land in 1836, it was opened for white settlers. "The Bluff," as the area overlooking the Coosa River was then called, was a staging area for sending the Cherokee downstream to Gunters Landing (now Guntersville) on the first leg of their journey to present-day Oklahoma.
Settlers begin coming into the area in the 1840s, including the man after whom the town was eventually named, Daniel Hoke, a local entrepreneur who built a trading post, store, and blacksmith shop. The settlement soon became known as "Hoke's Bluff," with the apostrophe being dropped at some point.
During the Civil War, although many locals tried to remain neutral in the conflict, the town suffered repeated raids from both Union and Confederate forces. As with much of the South, Hokes Bluff suffered economically because of the war and during Reconstruction. The town remained a small, unincorporated area until 1946, when it officially incorporated. City water followed in 1949, and city gas in 1953. A city hall complex was built in 1971, followed in 1986 by a separate building to house the police department and the volunteer fire department. Since incorporation, the town's population has quadrupled.
Hokes Bluff's population according to the 2010 Census was 4,826. Of that number, 98.5 percent identified themselves as white, 0.5 percent as two or more races, 0.4 percent as Asian, 0.3 percent as black, 0.2 percent as Hispanic, and 0.1 percent as Native American. The city's median household income was $67,857, and per capita income was $26,375.
Hokes Bluffs' work force in 2009 was divided among the following industrial categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (37.9 percent)
· Manufacturing (11.8 percent)
· Retail trade (11.3 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (9.4 percent)
· Public administration (7.1 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (5.6 percent)
· Construction (4.7 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (4.0 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (3.8 percent)
· Wholesale trade (3.1 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (1.2 percent)
Schools in Hokes Bluff are part of the Etowah County School system; the town has approximately 1,325 students and 81 teachers in one elementary school, one middle school, and one high school. Gadsden State Community College is located eight miles from town, and Jacksonville State University is located less than 15 miles away.
County Highway 71 runs east-west through Hokes Bluff and County Highway 65 runs north-south through the town; U.S. Highway 278 runs east-west just south of the city. The closest airport to Hokes Bluff is the Northeast Alabama Regional Airport, approximately 16 miles to the west.
Events and Places of Interest
Hokes Bluff has one city park that features a pavilion and a walking trail. The city also has a municipal pool and a community
center with space that can be rented for private events.
Etowah County Heritage Book Committee. Heritage of Etowah County. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1999.
Etowah County Centennial Commission. A History of Etowah County, Alabama. Birmingham: Roberts and Son, 1968.
James P. Kaetz
Published November 6, 2011
Last updated July 13, 2012