Cuba is located in southwest Sumter County in the west-central part of the Black Belt region of the state, just east of the Alabama/Mississippi state line. It has a mayor/city council form of government.
Dr. H. B. Ward House By 1850, the location of a post office was named Cuba near the site of the present-day town. In 1852, R. A. Clay moved his family to what is now Cuba from Autauga County and bought the land on which the town would be built. He brought with him 100 enslaved persons and established a plantation to cultivate cotton, which was the region’s main crop. Clay donated land to the Southern Railroad to build a line through the area in 1861. The post office was moved near the railroad line, and the town that grew up around it became known as Cuba Station, later shortened to simply Cuba. The first business was a mercantile firm called Clay and Ferguson. A building boom followed the completion of the railroad line, during which stores, a hotel, and a Masonic Lodge were built.
During the Civil War, the Confederate government asked Clay, who was unfit for service because of a childhood injury, to run a slaughterhouse to supply meat to Confederate troops. The town was relatively untouched during the war, although there was a small skirmish between a reconnaissance cavalry detachment from U.S. Army general William Tecumseh Sherman’s troops and Confederate forces consisting of the local Home Guard and cadets from nearby Marion Military Institute. As the war came to a close, Sumter County became a haven for Confederate forces. They established a camp in Cuba to protect public property until they were ultimately relieved by the U.S. Army.
In 1870, Clay sold half of his landholdings and, along with the buyer, laid out lots to be sold to more settlers. The railroad industry in the area rebounded with the creation of the Alabama Great Southern Railroad. Between 1880 and 1900, hotels, a newspaper, a livery stable, churches, pottery plants, physician’s offices, a school, and a canning factory were established. In 1881, Clay donated land for a cemetery, which is now called Clay Memorial Cemetery. The town incorporated in 1890, and physician A. L. Vaughan served as the first mayor. By 1900, the town had a telephone line as well as growing truck-crop enterprise that was important to bringing economic stability and agricultural diversity to the region. The town built a high school in 1914 and an elementary school in 1923.
According to 2020 Census estimates, Cuba recorded a population of 294. Of that number, 85.7 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 11.6 percent as African American, and 2.7 percent as American Indian. The town’s median household income was $40,750 and the per capita income was $31,775.
According to 2020 Census estimates, the workforce in Cuba was divided among the following industrial categories:
- Retail trade (21.3 percent)
- Educational services, and health care and social assistance (19.4 percent)
- Manufacturing (13.9 percent)
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (12.0 percent)
- Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (9.3 percent)
- Other services, except public administration (8.3 percent)
- Transportation and warehousing and utilities (6.5 percent)
- Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (4.6 percent)
- Public administration (3.7 percent)
- Information (0.9 percent)
Schools in Cuba are part of the Sumter County school system; the town has one junior high school (grades 1-8).
Interstate Highway 20/59 cuts through the northwest corner of Cuba. State Highway 8 bisects the town going northwest-southeast, and U.S Highway 11/State Highway 7 runs through the southern half of town going northeast-southwest. The Norfolk Southern Corporation operates a line through Cuba.
Events and Places of Interest
The Ward-Ganguet-Gray House (ca. 1860) is listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage, and the Dr. James Alvis Beavers House (ca. 1854) and the Dr. H. B. Ward House (ca. 1880) are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to these homes, there are also several others located within the town dating from the late 1800 and early 1900s. These include the Vaughan House; May-Davidson House; Stallworth-Shaw House; Giles-Richie House; Hardy-Tate House; McDaniels-Beavers House; and Shaw House.
Smith, Louis Roycraft Jr. “A History of Sumter County, Alabama, through 1886.” PhD. diss., University of Alabama, 1988.
Sumter County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Sumter County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2005.