Covington County Marks 200th Anniversary Milestone

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Tomorrow is not just another Tuesday as Covington County turns 200.

“The opportunity now – 200 years later – to commemorate this milestone creates a special moment for us to look back and recognize the unique heritage we share and note the interesting events in our history. It also reminds us to continue our work to provide a future filled with improved opportunities for all of our citizens, ”said Covington County Commission Chairman Greg White.

The Covington Historical Society will be holding an open house on the county’s birthday, Tuesday, December 7, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“I thank the Covington Historical Society for sharing our county’s many historical documents and artifacts at the Three Notch Museum. We encourage everyone to stop by for this special event. The museum is a valuable asset that is available to us throughout the year, and it represents countless hours of volunteer work by the Society over the past decades, ”added White.

Juan Ponce de Leon came to Covington County in his quest for the Fountain of Youth. While exploring County Covington during the Conquest, the Spaniards established a small settlement on the Conecuh River, known as Montezuma.

After the War of 1812, former President Andrew Jackson is said to have come from South Carolina and traveled there on his way to New Orleans. He cut three notches on the trees while crossing this desert to allow him to find his way. Andalucia has one East Three Notch Street and one South Three Notch Street. Troy has a South Three Notch Street. These streets are said to be on the famous “Three Notch Trail”.

The State of Alabama was admitted to the Union in 1819. The County of Covington was created by an act of the Legislature of Alabama which was approved on December 7, 1821. It was created from the Henry County. This new county was named in honor of Brigadier General Leonard Wailes Covington of Maryland after he was killed in the War of 1812. At this time, Covington embraced several other counties, but over the years he has was reduced to its present size by dividing up the counties of Dale and Geneva.

White settlers came from Georgia on ox carts to what is now Covington County in 1816. An early settlement was near Green Bay. Another settlement was near Rose Hill, colonized by residents of North Carolina and South Carolina. The first church was established near Rose Hill in 1823 and was called the Church of Macedonia. The first settlement was on the Conecuh River, four miles west of what is now Andalusia. This community was the county’s first seat and a post office called Montezuma was established in 1829. There was then river traffic from Pensacola to Montezuma.

Immigrants flocked from Georgia and the Carolinas after a federal law of 1836 ordered the removal of Indians west of the Mississippi. The first land the government sold in this county was near the present-day community of Heath and sold through the Sparta Land Office in Conecuh County. Later, this land office was transferred to the island of Elba.

In 1841, the lowlands around Montezuma were inundated. A yellow fever epidemic broke out and caused a lot of disasters and diseases in the plains. The settlers were forced to flee to higher lands. They selected the highest point of the surroundings, a safe place on the watershed that is today the town square of Andalusia. It was called “new site” until 1846 when a post office was established and the city designated as Andalusia. No one knows where the name Andalusia comes from; however, legend has it that the Spanish explorers, Ponce de Leon and Desoto, and their men were the first white men in this region. They are believed to be responsible for the Spanish influence. It is assumed that since Spain has a province of Andalusia, this city was so named due to this influence.

In 1868, a bill was passed by the Alabama legislature to change the name from Covington to Jones County. State Representative Edward Mancil’s goal was to please Estates Judge Josiah Jones. Communication was not good at the time and the first time Jones found out about it was when he met Mancil on the street after returning home. Upon hearing that Covington’s name had been changed, Jones was so angry that he threatened Mancil unless the name was changed again to Covington. Mancil then changed the name of the county to Covington. So, Covington was Jones County for only four months in 1869.

There have been five courthouses in Covington County. The first was a log structure in Montezuma. The second was a log structure in Andalusia, which burned down in 1878 and destroyed all records. The third, a wooden plank building, was destroyed by fire in 1895. It was located east of the town square in Andalusia and had a tomb in the courtyard. The fourth was a brick building that occupied the center of Andalusia’s town square and stood until the current courthouse was erected around 1916.

The county remained relatively isolated until the Louisville and Nashville Railroad completed lines through the county. As a result, several cities were created, including Opp, Red Level, Onycha, Gantt and Florala. By the turn of the century, the county’s vast acres of pine forests led to a boom in the lumber and turpentine industries.

Encompassing approximately 1,038 square miles, Covington County lies entirely within the physiographic section of the Eastern Gulf Coastal Plain. It is bounded on the north by the counties of Butler and Crenshaw, on the east by the counties of Coffee and Geneva, on the south by the counties of Okaloosa and Walton in Florida, and on the west by the counties of Escambia and Conecuh.

The Conecuh National Forest, established in 1935, covers much of the southwestern corner of the county. The Conecuh river flows through the western part of the county and its tributary, the Patsaliga stream, crosses the northwestern part.

In addition, Gantt Lake, created in the 1920s, imparts water to the Conecuh River. The Blackwater, Yellow, and Pea rivers also feed the county via the Five Runs, Clear, Dry, Panther, and Corner creeks. US Highway 84 runs east to west through the center of the county. US Highway 29 and US Highway 331 run north to south in the eastern and western sections of the state, respectively.

As of the 2020 United States Census, the population of Covington County was 37,570.

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