History

The Creek Indians originally inhabited the area that now composes Covington County, Alabama. There are Indian Mounds, arrowheads, and other relics to be found here.

Legend has it that in the year 1813, Andrew Jackson came from South Carolina and traveled through this area on his way to Pensacola, Florida. He cut three notches on trees as he passed through this wilderness to enable him to find his way back. Andalusia has an East Three Notch Street and a South Three Notch Street, which supposedly lie on the famous “Three Notch Trail.”

The State of Alabama was admitted to the Union in 1819 and Covington County was made a county by the Alabama Legislature on December 7, 1821. Covington County was named in honor of Brigadier General L.W. Covington, a native of Maryland, who was killed in Canada during the War of 1812. At that time, Covington embraced several other counties, but through the years has been reduced to its present size by the carving out of other counties.

The first white settlers came to what is now Covington County in the year 1816. They came from Georgia on ox wagons and settled near Green Bay. People from North and South Carolina established a second settlement near Rose Hill. The earliest church was established near Rose Hill in 1823 and was called the Macedonia Church.

The village of Montezuma, located approximately four miles west of the present City of Andalusia, was the first county seat and the site for the first Covington County Courthouse. The structure was a log building, which was constructed at the falls of the Conecuh River in 1823. This original courthouse burned in the spring of 1839. Before another courthouse was constructed, the town of Montezuma was completely washed away in 1841 by a flood called the “Harrison Freshet.” Worse still, the flood created an epidemic of mosquitoes and fever.

After much disagreement and several legislative acts, a site for the new courthouse was finally chosen. The site was a forty-acre tract on higher ground that was called “New Site” until 1844 when a post office was established and the town was designated as Andalusia. No one knows where the name Andalusia originated, but legend has it that the Spanish explorer, DeSoto, passed through this area in his travels from Florida to Mississippi. It is assumed that since Spain has an Andalusia Province, the City of Andalusia was so named because DeSoto passed through.

In 1847, the construction of a new courthouse finally began in the center of Andalusia’s public square. This second structure was built of pine logs and had a small pine pole jail built nearby. This courthouse and all of its records were destroyed by fire in 1878.

The third courthouse, a clapboard building, was then constructed at the same location in the center of the Square. In 1895 it was also consumed by fire. Some records were saved due to being in an iron safe which was located in the County Judge’s Office. A man by the name of Marion Lisco was arrested and charged in connection with the fire. He later escaped and was never prosecuted.

The fourth Covington County Courthouse was a two-story red brick building built in 1896 on the same property. By 1916, a flourishing Andalusia required a larger and more complete courthouse to better serve the needs of the county. At this time the present stone and marble courthouse was erected on the north side of the Square facing south toward what became known as the Court Square.

The first land sold by the U.S. Government in Covington County was near the present community of Heath and was sold through the Sparta Land Office in Conecuh County. Later the land office was moved to Elba.

Covington County supplied some soldiers in the War Between the States, but not as many as some other counties because it was less populated.

In 1868, State Representative Mancil passed a bill in the Legislature of Alabama to change the name of Covington County to Jones County. His purpose was to honor a leading political figure, Josiah Jones, who had helped Mancil to be elected. Communication was not good in those days, and the first occasion Jones knew of the county being named after him was when he met Mancil on the street after his return home. Upon hearing that the name of Covington County was changed, Jones was so angry that he threatened Mancil unless he changed the name back to Covington. Mancil agreed. Thus, Covington County was named Jones County for only the short period of four months in 1868.

This area did not begin its real growth until the year 1899, when the Central of Georgia Railroad established its line to Andalusia from Searight and the L & N Railroad ran a line through Andalusia to Graceville, Florida. Until well after the turn of the century, Covington County had an agricultural and timber economy.

The City of Florala was established before the turn of the century. It derives its name from lying on the border of the States of Florida and Alabama.

The City of Opp was established in 1901 and was named after Colonel Henry Opp, who was then Mayor of Andalusia.

 

 

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