Walnut Grove was settled in the early 1810s and was initially known as Thomas Cross Roads. The Cornelius family settled in the area around 1813 and built a two-story building and a store; the two-story building became a community meeting place and also served as a schoolhouse. In February 1848, the town’s name was changed to Cornelius after Harvey Cornelius, a prominent member of the founding family. The first post office, established in 1848, was housed in the Cornelius general store. The town’s name was changed to Walnut Grove in September 1849. Near the end of the Civil War, the entire settlement was burned by a gang alleged to be Union sympathizers. It was quickly rebuilt.
The first free-stranding school was built in the 1870s. By 1884, a larger school building was built, and it became Walnut Grove College, also called Walnut Grove Baptist College. The school attracted students from throughout the area, many of whom boarded in Walnut Grove. The school closed after founder Y. A. Adams moved away from the town in 1899.
Walnut Grove incorporated in August 1886. The post office remained in a corner of the general store until a separate building was constructed in 1900. A new post office was built in 1922, but it burned in 1933. A new post office opened in its current location in 1935. In 1923, the town began construction of a new ten-room school building, but it burned shortly before completion. It was quickly rebuilt, burned again in 1940, and was again rebuilt. A new water system began operation in 1962.
According to 2020 Census estimates, Walnut Grove recorded a population of 875. Of that number, 93.9 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 8.7 percent as Hispanic, 4.0 percent as two or more races, 1.7 percent as American Indian, and 0.3 percent as Asian. The town’s median household income was $33,711, and the per capita income was $17,367.
According to 2020 Census estimates, the workforce in Walnut Grove was divided among the following industrial categories:
- Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services (26.8 percent)
- Retail trade (22.6 percent)
- Manufacturing (12.0 percent)
- Educational services and health care and social assistance (9.0 percent)
- Public administration (8.4 percent)
- Construction (6.6 percent)
- Information (4.5 percent)
- Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing (3.9 percent)
- Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services (1.8 percent)
- Wholesale trade (1.8 percent)
- Other services, except public administration (1.5 percent)
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extraction (0.6 percent)
Schools in Walnut Grove are part of the Etowah County Schools system; the town has one high school.
Walnut Grove is bisected by U.S. Highway 278 running east-west, and County Road 39 runs roughly northeast-southwest through the western half of the town. Interstate Highway 59 is located about 10 miles southeast of Walnut Grove.
Events and Places of Interest
Walnut Grove’s parks and recreational facilities include four baseball fields, tennis courts, a basketball court, and a children’s play area. The town also has a senior center.
Etowah County Centennial Committee. A History of Etowah County, Alabama. Birmingham, Ala.: Roberts and Sons, 1968.
Stanfield, Mattie Cole and Norma Self Cornelius. History of Walnut Grove, Alabama, Etowah County. Boaz, Ala.: Boaz Leader, 1964.