Downtown Newton, Alabama
Location in Dale County and the state of Alabama
|• Total||14.3 sq mi (37.1 km2)|
|• Land||14.3 sq mi (37 km2)|
|• Water||0 sq mi (0.1 km2)|
|Elevation||318 ft (97 m)|
|• Density||119.4/sq mi (46/km2)|
|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|GNIS feature ID||0123931|
Newton is a town in Dale County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census its population was 1,511. Once the county seat of Dale County, Newton lost this distinction to nearby Ozark in 1870, and is now a small farming community. The city currently forms a part of the Ozark micropolitan statistical area.
Newton is located at 31°21′N 85°36′W (31.344,-85.593).
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 14.3 square miles (37 km2), of which, 14.3 square miles (37 km2) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) of it (0.21%) is water.
Alabama State Route 123 and Alabama State Route 134 both pass through Newton.
Newton was founded in 1843 after the formation of Coffee County from Dale County's western half, which rendered the original county seat of Daleville off-center. The town was a scene for Confederate recruiting during the Civil War, and was the site of a battle in March 1865 between local Home Guard troops and elements of the 1st Florida Cavalry (US) operating out of Florida. The Federals were led by Joseph Sanders, a Dale County resident who had previously been a captain in the 31st Georgia Infantry, but had later switched sides and joined the Federals. Seeking to burn the county courthouse, the attackers were repulsed when local troops ambushed their column as they entered the town. This event is commemorated by a monument located in downtown Newton, and by annual re-enactments.
On December 3, 1864, a local Methodist minister named Bill Sketoe was lynched just north of Newton by local Home Guardsmen led by Captain Joseph Brear. Since Sketoe was tall, a hole had to be dug beneath his feet to accommodate his large frame. Local legend insists that "the hole that won't stay filled" never vanished—even after being filled in numerous times during the years that followed. Though covered in 1979 by a new bridge and tons of rip-rap, "Sketoe's hole" remains a local attraction, and was immortalized by Alabama writer Kathryn Tucker Windham in her 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey. A monument to Sketoe was dedicated near the hanging site in 2006, and the local museum displays items of Sketoe memoribilia.
Following a fire which destroyed the courthouse in March 1869, and the formation of Geneva County in 1870 from the southern third of Dale and Coffee Counties, votors relocated the county seat to Ozark, which was more centralized.
The Southern Star, one of the oldest newspapers in the Wiregrass area, was first published in Newton in 1867. It later relocated to Ozark, where it continues to be published today. Newton remained a port for river boats on the nearby Choctawhatchee, until the railroad arrived in 1890. The Baptist Collegiate Institute operated in the city from 1898 to 1929; its main building now houses the city's public library.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,708 people, 693 households, and 510 families residing in the town. The population density was 119.5 people per square mile (46.1/km²). There were 790 housing units at an average density of 55.3 per square mile (21.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 82.20% White, 15.52% Black or African American, 0.18% Native American, 0.06% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.06% from other races, and 1.93% from two or more races. 1.23% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 693 households out of which 31.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.6% were married couples living together, 13.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.4% were non-families. 24.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 2.93.
In the town the population was spread out with 24.0% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 27.2% from 25 to 44, 25.8% from 45 to 64, and 14.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 93.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.8 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $33,021, and the median income for a family was $35,795. Males had a median income of $28,924 versus $19,559 for females. The per capita income for the town was $15,263. About 13.3% of families and 13.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.8% of those under age 18 and 8.5% of those age 65 or over.
Newton has its own Elementary School.
- Wiregrass Saga, by Oscar L. Thompson. Retrieved on 2009-04-30.
- Civil War Groups to Bring History to Life in Newton. Retrieved on 2009-04-30.
- Battle of Newton website.
- The Hanging of Bill Sketoe. Retrieved on 2009-04-30.
- Windham, Katheryn Tucker: 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey. Strode Publishers, 1969. ISBN 978-0-8173-0376-1.
- Sketoe Tale Memorialized. Retrieved on 2009-04-30.
- Historic Building Serves New Purpose as Town Hall. Retrieved on 2009-05-01.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.