The earliest settlers appeared in the Coffeeville area as early as the late eighteenth century. By 1808, the settlement, a flourishing river town, was called Murrell's Landing, after early settler William Murrell. In 1819, the town was renamed Coffeeville, in honor of Gen. John Coffee, a hero of the Creek War of 1813-14. A town plat was drawn up on November 19, 1819; six days later the state legislature approved articles of incorporation for Coffeeville. Early settlers surrounding the town either farmed or worked in the timber industry. Goods were shipped to and from Mobile by riverboat. A stagecoach route ran through town, and travelers crossed the Tombigbee River by ferry.
In the lead-up to the Civil War, when Alabama voted to secede in 1861, citizens of Coffeeville voted against secession, but the county overall voted for it. After surviving war and Reconstruction, Coffeeville continued to thrive, reaching a population of 1,683 in the 1880 census. A one-room schoolhouse built in the early part of the twentieth century served the town until 1926, when a high school was constructed.
The first phone system was installed in 1910, and the first automobiles came to Coffeeville around 1914. The first post office opened in 1924. Electricity was made available in 1935 through the Rural Electric Association. The town was reincorporated in 1938, with the first paved roads coming through town in 1948. Jackson Lock and Dam was constructed on the Tombigbee between 1956 and 1960, and was dedicated in 1961. In 1960, a bridge was constructed over the Tombigbee River, replacing the ferry service. Coffeeville constructed a town hall in 1958, and a water system was provided in 1964. Farming remains a large part of the local economy.
Coffeeville's population according to the 2010 Census was 352. Of that number, 51.4 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 46 percent as African American, 2.6 percent as two or more races, and 0.6 percent as Hispanic or Latino. The town's median household income, according to 2010 estimates, was $26,407, and the per capita income was $12,448.
According to 2010 Census estimates, the work force in Coffeeville was divided among the following industrial categories:
· Construction (30.6 percent)
· Manufacturing (24.0 percent)
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (9.9 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (8.3 percent)
· Wholesale trade (6.6 percent)
· Public administration (6.6 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (5.8 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (2.5 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (2.5 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (3.3 percent)
Students in Coffeeville attend Clarke County schools; no public schools are located within the town limits.
State Highway 69 runs north-south through the town, to the northwest, County Road 31 runs northwest, and U.S. Highway 84 bisects the town running roughly east-west.
Events and Places of Interest
The Coffeeville Masonic Lodge is listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Historic Places.
The Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge is located four miles northeast of town, and Bladon Springs State Park lies due east approximately three miles.
Coffeeville holds an annual Music Festival, the proceeds from which go to fund a college scholarship. The festival features
musicians from the area and includes gospel music and blues musicians.
Clarke County Heritage Book Committee. Heritage of Clarke County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, Inc., 2001.
Clarke County Historical Society. Historical Sketches of Clarke County, Alabama: A Story of the Communities of Clarke County, Alabama. Huntsville, Ala.: The Strode Publishers, Inc., 1977.
James P. Kaetz
Published March 4, 2013
Last updated March 4, 2013