The first non-Indian settlers in the Hillsboro area arrived in the early 1830s, and the first post office was established in 1837. It was originally named Gilmersville after one of the first families in the area and was located about a mile east of its current location. After the first railroad (later the Norfolk Southern) came through in the late 1860s, local resident William Gilmer won a contract to supply trains with wood for fuel and built a sawmill by the tracks on the site of the present-day town. Other businesses soon followed, and the original town site was abandoned.
The railroad made the town a shipping center in the area because roads were so bad at the time. The town’s name was changed first to Hillsborough, and then in September 1891 the spelling was changed to its current Hillsboro. Hillsboro was incorporated in 1899. The Norfolk-Southern Railway still runs through the town.
According to 2020 Census estimates, Hillsboro recorded a population of 590. Of that number, 93.6 percent of respondents identified themselves as African American, 4.4 percent as white, and 2.0 percent as two or more races. The town’s median household income, according to 2010 estimates, was $51,494, and the per capita income was $27,010.
According to 2020 Census estimates, the workforce in Hillsboro was divided among the following industrial categories:
- Manufacturing (23.7 percent)
- Educational services, and health care and social assistance (16.4 percent)
- Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (16.1 percent)
- Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (14.6 percent)
- Transportation and warehousing and utilities (10.2 percent)
- Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services (5.3 percent)
- Information (5.0 percent)
- Public administration (2.9 percent)
- Wholesale trade (2.6 percent)
- Construction (1.5 percent)
- Retail trade (1.2 percent)
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (0.6 percent)
Students in Hillsboro attend Lawrence County schools; no public schools are located within the town limits.
U.S. Highway 72/State Highway 20 defines the northern town limits of Hillsboro.
Events and Places of Interest Pond Spring
Hillsboro is located approximately three miles south of Wheeler Lake on the Tennessee River. Pond Spring, the General Joe Wheeler Home, is a historic site located between Hillsboro and Courtland, to the west.
The Thomas Holland House, the Tennessee Valley School, and Boxwood Plantation Dependency are on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. The Thomas Holland House is also on the National Register of Historic Places.
Lawrence County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Lawrence County. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1998.
Gentry, Dorothy. Life and Legends of Lawrence County, Alabama. Tuscaloosa, Ala.: Nottingham-SWS, Inc., 1962.