Jackson Oak at Village Point Park Daphne is centrally located in Baldwin County, 11 miles east of Mobile, 45 miles west of Pensacola, Florida, and 150 southwest of Montgomery. The city rests on bluffs that vary from sea level to 120 feet high above Mobile Bay. Daphne is known as the Jubilee City because it is the site of the rare “jubilees,” events in which an unusually large number of crabs, fish, and shrimp become trapped in shallow waters along the coastline. Daphne is governed by a mayor and eight-member city council.
Removal of the County Seat from Daphne to Bay Minette Before the arrival of Europeans, Tensaw, Alabama, Creek, Seminole, and Choctaw Indians lived in the area that now includes Daphne. Historical records document visits from European and Spanish explorers around 1557. The region was under the control of the Spanish until the late 1600s. In 1773, a settled area above Daphne known as “the Village” served as a site for meetings with local Indian leaders and for conducting important business.
During the first half of the nineteenth century, the Daphne area was known by its three landings: Belrose, Hollywood, and Shorts. The town itself was settled in 1874. William Howard, a prosperous hotel owner, became the postmaster of the settlement and gave the town its name, possibly after the exotic shrub that his wife admired and planted.
Jubilee in Daphne, ca. 1950 At a time when rivers were the only means of transportation to and from Mobile, Daphne was the ideal location for a county seat and served in that capacity from 1868 to 1901. With the expansion of the railroad and a new Mobile line connecting Bay Minette with northwest Florida, business leaders and politicians campaigned for the county seat to be moved to Bay Minette, a move approved by the Alabama State Legislature on February 5, 1901. Daphne leaders and officials, however, refused to relinquish the county and court records, leading Bay Minette officials to steal the records in the middle of the night in October 1901.
Daphne’s population according to 2020 Census estimates was 26,578. Of that number, 76.9 percent identified themselves as white, 17.0 percent as African American, 2.9 percent as Hispanic, 3.2 percent as two or more races, and 1.7 percent as Asian. The city’s median household income was $71,105, and per capita income was $35,933.
The work force in Daphne, according to 2020 Census estimates, was divided among the following industrial categories:
- Educational services, and health care and social assistance (24.8 percent)
- Retail trade (12.2 percent)
- Manufacturing (11.9 percent)
- Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (9.7 percent)
- Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (9.1 percent)
- Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (8.1 percent)
- Construction (5.9 percent)
- Transportation and warehousing and utilities (5.6 percent)
- Public administration (4.7 percent)
- Other services, except public administration (4.0 percent)
- Wholesale trade (2.8 percent)
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (0.6 percent)
- Information (0.6 percent)
Schools in Daphne are part of the Baldwin County Public School System and include three elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school, all of which are charter schools. In addition to the public schools, Daphne is home to three private schools: Bayside Academy, Christ the King School, and Eastern Shore Christian School.
Daphne is served by U.S. Highways 90, 98, and 31. Highway 98 connects to Interstate 10, which connects with Mobile to the west and Pensacola to the east. Daphne is served by the Fairhope Municipal Airport and is less than 30 minutes away from Mobile Regional Airport.
Events and Places of Interest
Malbis Memorial Church The city of Daphne has numerous public facilities, including an 18,000 square foot library, a recreational center, a civic center, and Bayfront Park. The Daphne History Museum, housed in the 1858 Daphne Old Methodist Church, features exhibits on the cultural history of the city and its surroundings. The city also hosts a number of events featuring live music and local cuisine and seafood. Major events include the Eastern Shore Jubilee Festival held annually in September, the Gulf Coast Zydeco Music and Crawfish Festival held annually in May, Taste of the Eastern Shore, held annually in August, and Summer Art in the Park. The Eastern Shore Jubilee Festival sees a turnout of approximately 30,000 to 35,000 visitors annually.
Baldwin County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Baldwin County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2001.
Comings, L. J. Newcomb, and Martha M. Albers. A Brief History of Baldwin County. Fairhope, Ala.: Baldwin County Historical Society, 1928.
Lewis, Jon C., and Outlaw, Harriet Brill. Images of America: Baldwin County. Charleston, S.C., Portsmouth, N.H., San Francisco: Arcadia Publishing, 2009.
Scott, Richard, and Florence Scott. Daphne. Mobile, Ala.: Jordan Publishing Company, 1965.