Mobile County was created by proclamation of Gov. Holmes of the Mississippi Territory on Dec. 18, 1812. It is located in the southwestern corner of the state and is bordered by Mississippi on the west, Washington County on the north, Baldwin County and Mobile Bay on the east and the Gulf of Mexico on the south. Mobile Bay was the first body of water in the New World to be accurately charted. This was done by Pineda in 1519.
The city of Mobile is the county seat and is the Port City for Alabama. Both the city and the county derive their name from Fort Louis de la Mobile, a French fortification erected near Mount Vernon in 1702. The word “Mobile” is believed to come from a Choctaw Indian word for “paddlers.” The area was occupied by the French in 1702-63, by the British in 1763-80, and by the Spanish in 1780-1813. Courthouse fires occurred in 1823, 1840 and 1872. Other towns and communities include Bayou La Batre, Chickasaw, Citronelle, Creola, Dauphin Island, Grand Bay, Mount Vernon, Prichard, Saraland, Satsuma and Theodore.
Mobile is known as the “azalea city,” thanks to Fifise Langlois who first brought the bright pink blossoms to the city from his father’s garden in Toulouse, France, in 1754. It is also known as the Azalea Capital of the World, displaying more than 50 varieties in colors from paper white to pink, red and translucent lavender.
Mobile County’s population is 404,698 and is about 81 percent urban and 19 percent rural. About 61 percent of the population is white and 39 percent is black, Hispanic and other. There are more than 140 educational outlets in the county. Educational levels of residents 25 years and older range from 11 percent with a 9th grade education to 26 percent with four or more years of college.
Modern Mobile derives more than half of its annual wealth from industries dependent upon and directly allied with waterborne commerce. Major industries include Atlantic Marine, Austal USA, Bender Shipbuilding (ship building and repair), ST Mobile Aerospace Engineering, Teledyne Continental (aircraft engines and refurbishing), Kimberly Clark (paper products), Evonik Degussa Corp., Olin Corp., Dupont Agricultural Products (chemicals) and CPSI (computer software).
Tourist attractions include Bellingrath Gardens, USS Alabama Battleship Park, Dauphin Island Estuarium, Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Museum, Mobile Bay, Fort Gaines, GMAC Senior Bowl, Azalea Trail Run, and America’s Junior Miss Pageant. It is also the home of notables Jimmy Buffett, entertainer; Hank Aaron, Baseball Hall of Famer; and Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump.
Mobile County agriculture is very diverse with greenhouse, nursery, and sod ranked number one in the state and pecan production ranked number two. Other crops grown include cotton, peanuts, soybean, corn, fruits and vegetables, livestock and forage. According to the 2007 census of Agriculture, Mobile County has 876 farms on 113,653 acres with an average farm size of 130 acres. Farm acreage represents 14.4 percent of the total 789,120 acres in Mobile County. Agriculture continues to make a significant contribution to the county economy.
The Mobile County Extension Office has 16 full-time and two part-time employees. Some of the more popular Extension programs include Master Gardener, Classroom in the Forest-Forest in the Classroom, which has more than 6,200 youth and 700 volunteers involved, Food Safety for Seniors, Forage Nutrition, Precision Agriculture, Successful Aging Initiative, Urban Nutrition Education, Cotton and Peanut Production, Community Garden Development, Horticulture Series, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education, ServSafe for Commercial Food Establishments.