Harpersville is located in east-central Shelby County in the central part of the state. It has a mayor/city council form of government. Henry B. Walthall, stage and silent screen star, was born in Harpersville, as was William Joseph Simmons, who had a leading role in reviving the Ku Klux Klan in 1915.
The Harpersville area was first settled in the mid-1810s and was one of the earliest towns in what is now Shelby County. At the time, the community often was referred to as Big Springs after a local Baptist church. The town was soon renamed Harpersville after one of its early families. The town expanded to include a blacksmith shop, several stores, a tan yard, and a steam-powered cotton gin, and it became a stagecoach stop.
U.S. Highway 280 came through town in 1925, connecting the town to Birmingham to its north. Harpersville was incorporated in 1945. In 1953, the old Harpersville school building was renovated to become the town hall and in 1961 a new post office was built.
Harpersville's population according to the 2010 Census was 1,637. Of that number, 73.5 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 23.5 percent as African American, 2.6 percent as Hispanic or Latino, 1.3 percent as two or more races, 0.7 percent as Asian, and 0.3 percent as Native American. The town's median household income, according to 2010 estimates, was $41,806, and the per capita income was $21,761.
According to 2010 Census estimates, the work force in Harpersville was divided among the following industrial categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (31.6 percent)
· Retail trade (18.1 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (7.4 percent)
· Information (6.5 percent)
· Manufacturing (5.4 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (5.0 percent)
· Construction (4.5 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (4.4 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (4.2 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (4.2 percent)
· Wholesale trade (3.8 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (3.2 percent)
· Public administration (1.7 percent)
Students in Harpersville attend Shelby County schools; no public schools lie within the town limits.
U.S. Highway 280 runs southeast-northwest through Harpersville, and State Highway 25 runs roughly north-south through town. U.S. Highway 231 splits from U.S. Highway 280 in the northcentral part of the town and runs northeast. State Highway 76 runs west-east through the southern part of town.
Events and Places of Interest
The Harpersville Heritage Area, the Klein-Wallace Home, the Rock House, the Chancellor House, and the Scott-Bradford Home are all listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. The Chancellor House and the Rock House also are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Harpersville's southern town limits are defined by the Coosa River, and the town is approximately five miles north of Lay Lake, both of which offer water sports such as fishing, boating, water
skiing, sailing, and swimming. The town also is located about ten miles west of Cheaha State Park.
Shelby County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Shelby County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1999.
James P. Kaetz
Published June 3, 2013
Last updated June 3, 2013