Livingston Livingston, the county seat of Sumter County, is located in west-central Alabama between Tuscaloosa and Meridian, Mississippi, in the East Gulf Coastal Plain physiographic section. It has a mayor-city council form of government. Folklorist Ruby Pickens Tartt (1880–1974) and social reformer Julia Tutwiler, who founded what is now the University of West Alabama, are Livingston’s most notable natives. Blues artist Vera Hall Ward was born in a nearby community, and the county courthouse grounds features a memorial to her.

Early History

Alamuchee Covered Bridge The Choctaw Indians once inhabited the area surrounding what is now Livingston. White settlers began to come to the area after the Choctaws ceded their territory to the U.S. government in the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek on September 27, 1830. These early settlers came primarily from North Carolina, but some also came from South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, with a few from the North. In 1833, some town members formed a commission to organize the surrounding area of Livingston into what is now Sumter County. Livingston, named after statesman and jurist Edward Livingston, was chosen as the county seat. Livingston’s first newspaper, The Voice of Sumter, debuted on March 1, 1836. Sumter County’s first courthouse was built of logs at the intersection of Spring and Chapman (now West Main) Streets in Livingston. In 1839, the county constructed a frame courthouse to replace the log structure, but it burned in 1901. The probate judge’s office was the only structure to survive the fire, and it now contains the county commission office. The present courthouse foundation was laid on July 9, 1902.

Julia Tutwiler in Livingston A lack of nearby water led most residents to settle close to one of the area’s natural springs near what is now Livingston’s Spring Street. In 1854, an artesian well, known today as the Bored Well, located on the Courthouse Square, was dug to supply water for the town. For most of the late nineteenth century, this artesian well water attracted visitors to the town for its supposed health benefits. In 1904, the town added a hand pump to the well and in 1928 installed an electric pump.

Livingston Female Academy was established on July 4, 1835, and Julia S. Tutwiler, a well-known educator, prison reformer, writer, and supporter of education for women, became assistant president in 1881, changed the school’s name to Livingston Normal School in 1886, and retired as president emeritus in 1910. The Livingston Female Academy, after being renamed State Teachers College, Livingston State College, and then Livingston University, is known today as the University of West Alabama.


According to 2020 Census estimates, Livingston recorded a population of 3,286. Of that number, 58.1 percent identified themselves as African American, 34.3 percent as white, 7.5 percent as Asian, and 0.1 as two or more races. The city’s median household income was $16,233, and per capita income was $11,135.


According to 2020 Census estimates, the workforce in Livingston was divided among the following industrial categories:

  • Educational services, and health care and social assistance (33.4 percent)
  • Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (25.0 percent)
  • Retail trade (21.5 percent)
  • Public administration (5.9 percent)
  • Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (4.9 percent)
  • Information (2.1 percent)
  • Transportation and warehousing and utilities (2.1 percent)
  • Construction (1.7 percent)
  • Manufacturing (1.7 percent)
  • Other services, except public administration (1.2 percent)
  • Wholesale trade (0.4 percent)


Schools in Livingston are part of the Sumter County school district; the town has one junior high school. The University of West Alabama is located in Livingston.


Interstate Highways 59 and 20, U.S. Highway 11, and Alabama Highway 28 all run through Livingston. Livingston is serviced by the Amtrak Railroad Company.

Events and Places of Interest

Sucarnochee Folk Life Festival Each year, Livingston hosts its Sucarnochee Folklife Festival, which showcases artisanal works such as pottery, metal crafts, and quilting. There is also live music, storytelling, a cornbread cook-off, and a 5K run. The Sucarnochee Revue, a nationally syndicated radio show featuring Black Belt music, broadcasts from the University of West Alabama.

The University of West Alabama campus is home to a covered bridge first built in 1861 over the Sucarnoochee River and moved to campus in 1969 and also hosts historic Cedarwood, an extremely rare wood-framed house built in 1818 and relocated from Greensboro. Courthouse Square features an old cannon left at Moscow in Marengo County by U.S. Army forces during the Civil War. A Confederate Monument, completed on June 17, 1909, as a tribute to the area’s Confederate soldiers, also stands in Courthouse Square. The Sumter County Court House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Old Southern Railroad Depot, built circa 1875, now serves as the town’s City Hall. The Branch-Stuart Home, the Spence-Moon House, St. James Episcopal Church, and the Voss-Pate House are all listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.

Jaycee Neighborhood Park is a recreational facility that includes baseball and softball fields, areas for picnics, a swimming pool, tennis courts, and playground equipment. Lake LU, located on the University of West Alabama Campus, offers boating and fishing.

Additional Resources

The Heritage of Sumter County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Company, 2005.

External Links

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