Clarke County was founded in 1812 as a part of the Mississippi Territory. It was named after John Clarke of Georgia, who was a friend of Andrew Jackson and later elected governor of Georgia. The first county seat was Clarkesville, but it was later moved to Macon. Now, it is in Grove Hill. The first settlers in Clarke County have the distinction of building more forts than in any other Alabama county.
Before it was founded, the area around Clarke County was the site of an 1805 ball game that decided the dividing line between the Creek and Choctaw tribes. Clarke County was also one of the leading salt producers in the Confederacy during the Civil War. People traveled from all over the South to visit its saltworks.
Clarke County is largely rural. About 55 percent of its population is white, and 45 percent is black. The county has six elementary schools, six middle schools, six high schools and one two-year technical college. Around 33 percent of its adults have completed high school.
Tourist attractions include the Scotch Management Area, Creagh Law Office, Campbell’s Landing, the Clarke County Museum, Bashi Creek Park, antique stores, the Kimbell House, Simpson Wildlife Sanctuary and Lock One Park and Island.
Principal agricultural products in Clarke County include cotton, corn, hay, timber and cattle. The county is also home to manufacturers like Boise Cascade, Browder & Sons Veneer, Church Pews, Vanity Fair, Linden Lumber Co., Simplex Industries, Dumas Manufacturing Co., Scotch Lumber Co., Crown Industries, Southwest Wood Fiber LLC, Hamilton Woods Veneer, Coastal Lumber Co., New Era Cap Co. and AC Fabricated Products.
The Extension office has four full-time and two part-time employees and two Extension agents who work in more than one county. Programs include Agriculture 4-H and Family Sciences.