About Lauderdale County
Lauderdale County was created by an act of an Alabama Territorial Legislature, February 6, 1818, and named for Col. James Lauderdale, of Tennessee who served with General John Coffee and Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812. He was killed in an attack on the British below New Orleans in 1814.
This territory was originally claimed by both the Chickasaws and the Cherokee Indians. The state of Georgia, in 1785, created the county of Houston comprising all land in Alabama north of the Tennessee River. Eighty Tennesseans settled at Muscle Shoals, elected a representative to Georgia’s Legislature and then disbanded within two weeks time because of the war-like attitude of the Chickasaws.
Lauderdale County was one of the first counties settled by white people in this state, the immigrants coming from Virginia, the Carolinas and Tennessee. The region around Muscle Shoals was highly attractive to immigrants. Five weeks after the creation of Lauderdale County a group of men from Huntsville organized what they called ‘The Cypress Land Company’ and purchased 5,515 acres of land with the Tennessee River as the southern border. The county contains 708 square miles with 100 miles of waterfront on the Tennessee River as its southern boundary. James Madison, Andrew Jackson, John Coffee, James Jackson, John McKinley, Thomas Bibb and General John Brahm were the more famous of the stockholders, and this constituted Lauderdale County’s first ‘land boom’. The company advertised in a paper published at Florence in 1818 that, “at the lower end of Muscle Shoals there must, in the natural course of things, spring up one of the largest commercial towns in the interior of the southwestern section of the union.”
It was under President Franklin Roosevelt’s plan for harnessing the water power of the Tennessee River that made the Muscle Shoals area an industrial prospect.
Florence, the county seat, was laid out in 1816; General Andrew Jackson and ex-president James Madison were among those who owned lots in Florence. A young Italian engineer surveyed the purchased land and laid out a city which he named Florence after his own native city, thus Florence is known as the ‘Renaissance’.
Major agricultural commodities are forages, beef, cotton, soybeans, corn and wheat. Other crops include sod, fruits and vegetables. Major industries are Sara Lee Foods, American Wholesale Books, ABCO Office Furniture, and Essex Electrical. Florence is the home of the University of North Alabama.
There are ten full-time and three part-time employees in the Lauderdale Extension Office. About 60 volunteers help with various Extension programs in the county. More than 1,000 youth are involved in 4-H. Other active county programs include Master Gardener, Master Cattle, Radon Awareness, Money Management, Grandparent’s Program, nutritional programs and agriculture.