Thomasville, Alabama

Last updated
Downtown Thomasville Alabama 02.jpg
Downtown Thomasville in 2008.
Thomasville City Seal.png
The City of Roses [1]
"Southwest Alabama's Success Story"
Clarke County Alabama Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Thomasville Highlighted 0175960.svg
Location of Thomasville in Clarke County, Alabama.
Coordinates: 31°54′41″N87°44′24″W / 31.91139°N 87.74000°W / 31.91139; -87.74000
Country United States
State Alabama
County Clarke
  MayorSheldon Day
  Total8.73 sq mi (22.62 km2)
  Land8.73 sq mi (22.61 km2)
  Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
381 ft (116 m)
 (2010) [3]
(2018) [4]
  Density448.17/sq mi (173.05/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
  Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
36762, 36784
Area code(s) 334
FIPS code 01-75960
GNIS feature ID0153683
Website City of Thomasville

Thomasville is a city in Clarke County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 4,209. [3] Founded as a late 19th-century railroad town, it has transitioned over the course of more than a century into a 21st-century commercial hub. [5] It is the childhood hometown of author and storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham. [6] [7]

Clarke County, Alabama U.S. county in Alabama

Clarke County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census, the population was 25,833. The county seat is Grove Hill. The county was created by the legislature of the Mississippi Territory in 1812. It is named in honor of General John Clarke of Georgia, who was later elected governor of that state.

Alabama A state in the United States

Alabama is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama is the 30th largest by area and the 24th-most populous of the U.S. states. With a total of 1,500 miles (2,400 km) of inland waterways, Alabama has among the most of any state.

Kathryn Tucker Windham American storyteller, writer and photographer

Kathryn Tucker Windham was an American storyteller, author, photographer, folklorist, and journalist. She was born in Selma, Alabama, and grew up in nearby Thomasville.



Thomasville was founded in 1888 and incorporated on November 24 of that year. [8] The former community of Choctaw Corner, dating back to the antebellum period, was a settlement west of what would become Thomasville, but when the merchants there learned that a railroad was going to bypass their town to the east, they decided to move their stores to be near the railroad. [9] The former community is now inside the city limits. The tracks between Mobile and Selma were completed the same year that Thomasville began. First referred to as "Choctaw", the town was named after railroad financier and former Union Civil War general, Samuel Thomas, after he donated $500 for the construction of Thomasville's first school. [5] The town had expanded by the end of the 19th century with numerous stores, several hotels and boarding houses, and a depot station. [5] In 1899, what is now downtown was destroyed by a fire that burned several blocks of the wood frame buildings. Thomasville quickly rebuilt, this time in brick, and was once again flourishing by the start of World War I. [9]

Choctaw Corner, Alabama Place in Alabama, United States

Choctaw Corner was a former town in Clarke County, Alabama, United States. It is named for the nearby Choctaw Corner, which marked the border between the native Choctaw and Creek peoples prior to the Indian removal. The community was one of the earliest settlements in the county.

The Antebellum era was a period in the history of the Southern United States, from the late 18th century until the start of the American Civil War in 1861, marked by the economic growth of the South.

Mobile, Alabama City in Alabama, United States

Mobile is the county seat of Mobile County, Alabama, United States. The population within the city limits was 195,111 as of the 2010 United States Census, making it the third most populous city in Alabama, the most populous in Mobile County, and the largest municipality on the Gulf Coast between New Orleans, Louisiana, and St. Petersburg, Florida.

Over the next century, Thomasville continued to grow and expand. Over the years, many businesses came and others left. These included garment factories, sawmills, and cotton gins. [5] The railroad discontinued its use of the town's depot by the 1950s, but that time also saw the opening of Thomasville's FPS-35 radar base, part of the Air Defense Command's Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, bringing in servicemen and their families. [5] The prototype for the FPS-35 radar was developed at the Thomasville Aircraft Control and Warning Station. [10] The 1950s also saw the planting of roses along Highway 43, the main highway through Thomasville, earning it the nickname of The City of Roses. The 1960s and 1970s saw the opening of numerous paper mills in the area, an industry that continues to be important to the economy of Thomasville today. This time also saw businesses begin to relocate from downtown to the main highway. The Thomasville Historic District was designated in 1999 by the National Register of Historic Places. [11]

Textile manufacturing is a major industry. It is based on the conversion of fibre into yarn, yarn into fabric. These are then dyed or printed, fabricated into clothes. Different types of fibres are used to produce yarn. Cotton remains the most important natural fibre, so is treated in depth. There are many variable processes available at the spinning] and fabric-forming stages coupled with the complexities of the [Finishing (textiles)|finishing and colouration processes to the production of a wide range of products.

Sawmill facility where logs are cut into timber

A sawmill or lumber mill is a facility where logs are cut into lumber. Modern saw mills use a motorized saw to cut logs lengthwise to make long pieces, and crosswise to length depending on standard or custom sizes. The "portable" saw mill is iconic and of simple operation—the logs lay flat on a steel bed and the motorized saw cuts the log horizontally along the length of the bed, by the operator manually pushing the saw. The most basic kind of saw mill consists of a chainsaw and a customized jig, with similar horizontal operation.

Cotton gin machine that separates cotton fibers from seeds

A cotton gin is a machine that quickly and easily separates cotton fibers from their seeds, enabling much greater productivity than manual cotton separation. The fibers are then processed into various cotton goods such as linens, while any undamaged cotton is used largely for textiles like clothing. The separated seeds may be used to grow more cotton or to produce cottonseed oil.


Thomasville is located at coordinates 31°55′15″N87°44′24″W / 31.92084°N 87.74008°W / 31.92084; -87.74008 Coordinates: 31°55′15″N87°44′24″W / 31.92084°N 87.74008°W / 31.92084; -87.74008 . It is the northernmost incorporated settlement in Clarke County and is situated on an elevated area between the Tombigbee and Alabama rivers. The elevation is 381 feet (116 m). The terrain is gently rolling hills, covered primarily in pine forest. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.8 square miles (23 km2), all land.

Geographic coordinate system Coordinate system

A geographic coordinate system is a coordinate system that enables every location on Earth to be specified by a set of numbers, letters or symbols. The coordinates are often chosen such that one of the numbers represents a vertical position and two or three of the numbers represent a horizontal position; alternatively, a geographic position may be expressed in a combined three-dimensional Cartesian vector. A common choice of coordinates is latitude, longitude and elevation. To specify a location on a plane requires a map projection.

Tombigbee River river in the United States of America

The Tombigbee River is a tributary of the Mobile River, approximately 200 mi (325 km) long, in the U.S. states of Mississippi and Alabama. Together with the Alabama, it merges to form the short Mobile River before the latter empties into Mobile Bay on the Gulf of Mexico. The Tombigbee watershed encompasses much of the rural coastal plain of western Alabama and northeastern Mississippi, flowing generally southward. The river provides one of the principal routes of commercial navigation in the southern United States, as it is navigable along much of its length through locks and connected in its upper reaches to the Tennessee River via the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.

Alabama River river in the United States of America

The Alabama River, in the U.S. state of Alabama, is formed by the Tallapoosa and Coosa rivers, which unite about 6 miles (10 km) north of Montgomery, near the suburb of Wetumpka.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Thomasville has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps. [12]

Humid subtropical climate category in the Köppen climate classification system

A humid subtropical climate is a zone of climate characterized by hot and humid summers, and cold to mild winters. These climates normally lie on the southeast side of all continents, generally between latitudes 25° and 35° and are located poleward from adjacent tropical climates. While many subtropical climates tend to be located at or near coastal locations, in some cases they extend inland, most notably in China and the United States, where they exhibit more pronounced seasonal variations and sharper contrasts between summer and winter, as part of a gradient between the more tropical climates of the southern coasts of these countries and the more continental climates of China and the United States’ northern and central regions.


Historical population
1890 291
1900 686135.7%
1910 1,18172.2%
1920 1,002−15.2%
1930 1,50450.1%
1940 2,00033.0%
1950 2,42521.3%
1960 3,18231.2%
1970 3,76918.4%
1980 4,38716.4%
1990 4,301−2.0%
2000 4,6498.1%
2010 4,209−9.5%
Est. 20183,913 [4] −7.0%
U.S. Decennial Census [13]
2013 Estimate [14]

As of the census of 2010, there were 4,209 people, 1,737 households, and 1,128 families residing in the city. There were 1,983 housing units. The racial makeup of the city was 51.7% Black or African American, 47.2% White, 0.4% Native American, 0.8% Asian, and 0.5% from other races. 1.3% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. [3]

Census Acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population

A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. This term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common censuses include traditional culture, business, supplies, and traffic censuses. The United Nations defines the essential features of population and housing censuses as "individual enumeration, universality within a defined territory, simultaneity and defined periodicity", and recommends that population censuses be taken at least every 10 years. United Nations recommendations also cover census topics to be collected, official definitions, classifications and other useful information to co-ordinate international practices.

Thomasville before the fire of 1899, looking east down Wilson Avenue. Birdseye view of Thomasville 1880s.jpg
Thomasville before the fire of 1899, looking east down Wilson Avenue.

There were 1,737 households out of which 30.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.1% were married couples living together, 22.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.1% were non-families. 32.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 3.00. [3]

In the city, the population was spread out with 29% under the age of 20, 45.3% from 20 to 64, and 16.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38.4 years. [3]


Downtown Thomasville in 2008, looking west up Wilson Avenue. Downtown Thomasville Alabama 01.jpg
Downtown Thomasville in 2008, looking west up Wilson Avenue.

The economy of Thomasville is largely based on retail trade and the service sector, with the city serving as a regional commercial hub. Its trade area is much larger than is indicated by its small population. [15]

In 2000, the U.S, Census Bureau recorded that 58.5% of the population was in the work force with 20.6% of families and 23.5% of the population living below the poverty line, including 31.9% of those under age 18 and 25.2% of those age 65 or over. The median income for a household in the city was $26,549, and the median income for a family was $32,476. Males had a median income of $32,212 versus $21,319 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,916. [3]


Thomasville has its own public school system, the Thomasville City School System, that includes Thomasville Elementary with an enrollment of 676 students, Thomasville Middle with 535, and Thomasville High with 448. [16]

Thomasville Elementary School is one of three schools that make up the Thomasville City School System. It is located at 300 Quincy Ingram Street in Thomasville, Alabama. TES was established in its current location in 1988. The gymnasium and lower wing were added in 1990. Then in 1997, the kindergarten wing was added. Thomasville Elementary teaches Pre-K through fourth grade. It serves approximately 500 students on a daily basis. There are currently three pre-k classes, four kindergarten classes, five first grade classrooms, four second grade classes, five third grade classes, and four fourth grade classrooms. It has fifty four faculty/staff to best meet the needs of our students. [17] Thomasville City Schools meet 100% of Alabama's accountability goals in all three schools. [18]

Thomasville is also home to Alabama Southern Community College, [18] which recently changed its' name to Coastal Alabama Community College. [19] Coastal Alabama Community College is a state-supported, fully accredited, comprehensive two-year college serving southwest Alabama with its main campus in Atmore, The Academy at the Fairhope Airport, Bay Minette, Brewton, Fairhope, Gilbertown, Gulf Shores, Jackson, Life Tech Center, Monroeville and Thomasville.


Thomasville had one acute care hospital, Southwest Alabama Medical Center, with 50 licensed beds. [20] In 2009 the hospital's owner, Anne Thompson, and city leaders announced plans for a new hospital facility near Thomasville's South Industrial Park, the first new rural hospital in Alabama in 30 years. [21] The new facility was projected to cost $35 million and employ roughly 200 people. [22]

However, the facility permanently closed its doors on August 16, 2011. Despite generating revenues in excess of $24.3 million for the year ending in March 2010, the facility lost more than half of a million dollars during the same period. A statement released to the public after closing stated that the hospital had not made enough money to cover operating expenses. The director of the Alabama Department of Public Health confirmed that the facility had turned in its operating license on August 16. [23]

Thomasville Nursing Home is a 70 bed long-term care facility located on Mosley Drive. [24]



Thomasville is home to one newspaper, the Thomasville Times . It was established in 1921. [1] The Thomasville News , established in 1996, ceased publication in 2006 when it merged with the Democrat-Reporter , based in Linden. [25]


Thomasville has two licensed FM radio stations, WDLG and WJDB-FM. [26]

Museums and libraries

The Thomasville campus of Alabama Southern Community College is home to the Kathryn Tucker Windham Museum. [27] [28] The Thomasville Public Library has an annual operating budget of $88,761 and has a collection of 15,206 books, 455 audio materials, 418 video materials, and 33 serial subscriptions. [26] The library provides many public services including: adult, teen and children activities and workforce development.

Notable people

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  12. Climate Summary for Thomasville, Alabama
  13. "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved June 6, 2013.
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  23. Casandra Andrews (August 17, 2011). "Thomasville hospital shuts down". Press-Register. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
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