Tuscaloosa County History
Tuscaloosa County is one of the oldest counties in Alabama. The Alabama General Assembly created Tuscaloosa County on February 6, 1818, from former Creek and Choctaw Indian lands. It is believed that the county received its name from Tascaluza, a Native American tribal leader in the area at the time of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto’s march through Alabama. The county’s earliest settlers came from Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. Some of the earliest towns included Newton, Northport, Holt, Coaling, and Tuscaloosa. The city of Tuscaloosa was designated the state capitol from 1826 until 1845, when the government was moved to the more centrally located Montgomery. While Tuscaloosa served as the state capitol, a charter for the establishment of the first public university was issued in 1827. In 1831, the University of Alabama officially opened its doors with an enrollment of 52 students.
Tuscaloosa was designated as the county seat of Tuscaloosa County in 1819, and in 1822, the county seat was moved to Newton, just a few miles from Tuscaloosa. Within a few short years, Newton was incorporated into Tuscaloosa, and Tuscaloosa again became the county seat in 1826. Many of the original structures, including the courthouse, were destroyed in a tornado that swept through in the 1840s. The present courthouse, a modern brick structure, was built in 1964 and has undergone several renovations and additions.
On April 27, 2011, a massive storm, causing numerous powerful tornadoes, struck the southeastern United States. More than 250 people were killed in Alabama, including 39 people in Tuscaloosa and surrounding communities.