The first settlers in what is now Leighton arrived as early as 1813. The community's first name was Crossroads, for its location at the intersection of one road that ran from the Tennessee River to Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa County, and another that connected Huntsville, Madison County, to Tuscumbia, Colbert County. The first business at the intersection was a tavern.
The name was changed to Leighton for Rev. William Leigh, a minister and entrepreneur who also served as the first postmaster in 1824. In 1826, the town's population expanded dramatically after 20 families from North Carolina settled there. In 1833, the Tuscumbia, Courtland, and Decatur Railroad built a line through the city, and Leighton became a shipping center for cotton. The town incorporated in 1890 and remained a major shipping center well into the twentieth century.
Leighton's population according to the 2010 Census was 729. Of that number, 53.2 percent of respondents identified themselves as African American, 43.3 percent as white, 2.3 percent as two or more races, 0.5 percent as Hispanic or Latino, 0.3 percent as Native American, and 0.1 percent as Asian. The town's median household income, according to 2010 estimates, was $19,814, and the per capita income was $13,247.
According to 2010 Census estimates, the work force in Leighton was divided among the following industrial categories:
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (20.3 percent)
· Retail trade (18.5 percent)
· Manufacturing (15.8 percent)
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (15.3 percent)
· Construction (13.5 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (5.4 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (5.0 percent)
· Public administration (5.0 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (1.4 percent)
Schools in Leighton are part of the Colbert County school system; the town has approximately 1,085 students and 68 teachers in two elementary schools and one high school.
County Highway 48 bisects Leighton running north-south, and County Road 22 bisects the town running east-west.
Events and Places of Interest
The John Johnson House near Leighton, the Old Brick Presbyterian Church north of Leighton, Preuit Oaks just south of Leighton, the Tabie House, the Leighton Training School/Leighton Middle School, the LaGrange Cemetery, and the LaGrange College Site are listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Historic Places.
The John Johnson House, the Old Brick Presbyterian Church, Preuit Oaks, and the LaGrange Rock Shelter are listed on the National
Register of Historic Places.
Colbert County Heritage Book Committee. Heritage of Colbert County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, Inc., 1999.
James P. Kaetz
Published March 7, 2013
Last updated March 7, 2013