Aliceville is located in southern Pickens County in west-central Alabama, approximately 10 miles from the Alabama-Mississippi state line. It has a mayor/council form of government. Professional football player Walter Jones was born in Aliceville, as was portrait artist Simmie Knox, who painted the official White House portraits of President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton.
The land on which Aliceville now stands was inhabited by and contested among the Choctaw, Creek, and Chickasaw tribes until it was ceded to the United States in 1816. The first white settler in the area, Josiah Tilly, arrived in 1817. Originally part of Tuscaloosa County, the area was encompassed by the newly created Pickens County in December 1820.
Aliceville owes its existence to the Carrollton Short Line Railroad, which extended a line into southern Pickens County to take advantage of shipping opportunities in the surrounding cotton farms, which traditionally had transported cotton to market on the Tombigbee River. The line was complete in 1902, and at that time the town was known as Alice City after the wife of the head of the Tuscaloosa Belt Railway, John T. Cochrane. The town took the name Aliceville around 1903. The first school, known as Aliceville Academy, was built in 1905. Aliceville was incorporated in February 1907.
In 1928, a new cotton mill became an economic mainstay of the city and remained so for 70 years. That same year the St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad Company ran a line through Aliceville to Pensacola, Florida. A tornado hit the city in 1937, killing 14. During World War II, the U.S. War Department located a German prisoner of war camp in Aliceville; some 6,100 prisoners were housed there between 1942 and 1945.
The last railroad line, the Alabama, Tennessee, and Northern Railroad, discontinued service in the county in 1976. Today, Aliceville's economy is still closely tied to the forest products and agriculture industry.
Aliceville's population according to the 2010 Census was 2,486. Of that number, 74.9 percent of respondents identified themselves as African American, 22.6 percent as white, 1.6 percent as two or more races, 1.2 percent as Hispanic, and 0.1 percent as Native American. The town's median household income, according to 2010 estimates, was $16,528, and the per capita income was $10,606.
According to 2010 Census estimates, the work force in Aliceville was divided among the following industrial categories:
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (17.2 percent)
· Manufacturing (17.1 percent)
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (16.7 percent)
· Retail trade (13.5 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (10.6 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (7.4 percent)
· Wholesale trade (6.6 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (5.0 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (3.3 percent)
· Public administration (2.4 percent)
Schools in are part of the Pickens County School system; the town has approximately 995 students and 61 teachers in one elementary school, one middle school, and one high school.
State Highway 14 runs through Aliceville northwest-southeast, and State Highway 17 runs through northeast-southwest. The George Downer Airport is located just west of the city.
Events and Places of Interest
The Aliceville Museum and Cultural Arts Center features permanent exhibits on Camp Aliceville, a World War II German prisoner-of-war camp that operated from 1942 to 1945; the Aliceville Coca-Cola Bottling Company, which was active from 1910 to 1978; and an extensive collection of U.S. military uniforms and equipment.
Each May, Aliceville hosts the Willie King Freedom Creek Festival, which features blues legend Willie King and the Liberators along with other national and local blues acts. Aliceville also hosts its the Dogwood Festival each year in April, featuring a rodeo, softball tournament, helicopter rides, charity run/walks, food, and games.
Aliceville Elementary and High School and the Parks E. Ball House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The First Presbyterian Church of Aliceville, the Parks E. Ball House, the Mancel-Gentry House, the Merchants and Farmers Bank
Building, the James M. Summerville House, and the Ingleside Plantation are listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and
Aliceville, Alabama Golden Jubilee October 24, 1952. Program. N.p.: n.p., 1952.
Pickens County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Pickens County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1999.
James P. Kaetz
Published May 30, 2012
Last updated March 1, 2013