Madison County, Alabama

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Madison County
Madison County Courthouse in Huntsville
Madison County Courthouse in Huntsville
Map of Alabama highlighting Madison County
Location within the U.S. state of Alabama
Map of the United States highlighting Alabama
Alabama's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 34°45′57″N 86°33′28″W / 34.765833333333°N 86.557777777778°W / 34.765833333333; -86.557777777778
Country United States
State Alabama
FoundedDecember 13, 1808[1]
Named forJames Madison
SeatHuntsville
Largest cityHuntsville
Government
 • Commission ChairmanDale W. Strong[2]
Area
 • Total813 sq mi (2,110 km2)
 • Land802 sq mi (2,080 km2)
 • Water11 sq mi (30 km2)  1.4%
Population
 (2020)
 • Total388,153
 • Estimate 
(2021)
395,211 Increase
 • Density480/sq mi (180/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional district5th
Websitewww.madisoncountyal.gov
 
  • County Number 47 on Alabama License Plates

Madison County is located in the north central portion of the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2020 Census, the population was 388,153, making it the third-most populous county in Alabama.[3] Its county seat is Huntsville.[4] Since the mid-20th century it has become an area of defense and space research and industry.

The county is named in honor of James Madison,[5] fourth President of the United States and the first President to visit the state of Alabama. Madison County covers parts of the former Decatur County. Madison County is included in the Huntsville, Alabama Metropolitan Statistical Area.

History[edit]

Madison County was established on December 13, 1808, by the governor of the Mississippi Territory.[1] It is recognized as the "birthplace" of the state of Alabama, which was admitted to the Union on December 14, 1819. Huntsville was designated as the first capital of the new state.

For much of the county's history, its economy was based on agriculture, particularly cotton plantations, which were established across the uplands. These plantations and their owners' profits were dependent on the labor of enslaved African Americans before the Civil War. Madison County was one of the largest cotton-producing counties in the state.

Cotton remained important after the war. Most labor for cultivation was still provided by African Americans, but they worked as sharecroppers and tenant farmers. By the late 19th century, textile mills had been established around the county; they were restricted to white workers by the Jim Crow practices of racial segregation. During the early 20th century, the economy continued to be largely agricultural, although textile mills expanded their production.

During World War II, the Army established Redstone Arsenal here as a chemical weapon manufacturing site, and the county attracted related industries. After the war, it became a center of new weapon and rocket development. In 1950, a group of exiled German rocket scientists, led by Wernher von Braun, came to Redstone Arsenal from Fort Bliss, Texas in order to conduct research and development of new types of rockets.

By the 1960s, research expanded to rockets for space exploration. The Redstone rocket was modified to launch the first two Americans into space. The US began to emphasize investment in the Space Race, in order to compete with the Soviet Union during the Cold War years and to increase scientific gains. This work in the defense and space industries has generated tens of thousands of jobs in the area, most of them private contractors working in these fields. The population of Madison County has risen from 72,903 in 1950 to an estimated 395,211 in 2021.

Geography[edit]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 813 square miles (2,110 km2), of which 802 square miles (2,080 km2) is land and 11 square miles (28 km2) (1.4%) is water.[6]

The topography in the southern and eastern portions of the county is dominated by the dissected remnants of the Cumberland Plateau, such as Keel Mountain, Monte Sano Mountain and Green Mountain. The northern and western portions of the county are flatter.

Rivers[edit]

Adjacent counties[edit]

Farm fields near New Market

National protected area[edit]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
18104,699
182017,481272.0%
183027,99060.1%
184025,706−8.2%
185026,4272.8%
186026,4510.1%
187031,26718.2%
188037,62520.3%
189038,1191.3%
190043,70214.6%
191047,0417.6%
192051,2689.0%
193064,62326.0%
194066,3172.6%
195072,9039.9%
1960117,34861.0%
1970186,54059.0%
1980196,9665.6%
1990238,91221.3%
2000276,70015.8%
2010334,81121.0%
2020388,15315.9%
2021 (est.)395,211[7]18.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[8]
1790–1960[9] 1900–1990[10]
1990–2000[11] 2010–2020[3]

2000[edit]

As of the census[12] of 2000, there were 276,700 people, 109,955 households, and 75,319 families residing in the county. The population density was 344 people per square mile (133/km2). There were 120,288 housing units at an average density of 149 per square mile (58/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 72.06% White, 22.78% Black or African American, 0.77% Native American, 1.86% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.59% from other races, and 1.89% from two or more races. Nearly 1.91% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

According to the 2000 census, the largest ancestry groups in Madison County were English 50.2%, African 22.78%, Scots-Irish 8.71%, Irish 4.3%, Scottish 4.12%, and Welsh 2.9%

2010[edit]

According to the 2010 U.S. Census:

There were 109,955 households, out of which 33.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them; 53.40% were married couples living together, 11.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.50% were non-families. Nearly 27.20% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45, and the average family size was 3.00.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 25.60% under the age of 18, 9.40% from 18 to 24, 31.50% from 25 to 44, 22.70% from 45 to 64, and 10.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $44,704, and the median income for a family was $54,360. Males had a median income of $40,779 versus $26,534 for females. The per capita income for the county was $23,091. About 8.10% of families and 10.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.10% of those under age 18 and 9.60% of those age 65 or over.

2020[edit]

Madison County racial composition[13]
Race Num. Perc.
White (non-Hispanic) 237,497 61.19%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 91,079 23.46%
Native American 2,132 0.55%
Asian 10,179 2.62%
Pacific Islander 450 0.12%
Other/Mixed 21,880 5.64%
Hispanic or Latino 24,936 6.42%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 388,153 people, 155,878 households, and 102,575 families residing in the county.

Communities[edit]

Cities[edit]

Towns[edit]

Census-designated places[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

Education[edit]

The Madison County School System runs public schools throughout the unincorporated areas of the county and the incorporated and unincorporated communities of Gurley, New Hope, Meridianville, Hazel Green, Toney, Monrovia, New Market, and Owens Cross Roads. The system runs 14 elementary schools, 4 middle schools, 5 high schools and a ninth grade school, and a career/technical center.

High schools in the Madison County School System are:

There are a number of private schools serving Madison County. These include Randolph School, Madison Academy, Westminster Christian Academy, Faith Christian Academy, and several others.

Madison City and Huntsville both have their own separate school systems, and Triana is served by Madison City Schools.

Transportation[edit]

Major highways[edit]

Rail[edit]

Air travel[edit]

The Port of Huntsville provides both passenger air service, via Huntsville International Airport which allows access to most of the rest of the United States, and shipping air service, via the International Intermodal Center. There are also three smaller public airports in the county: Hazel Green Airport, Madison County Executive Airport, and Moontown Airport.

Bicycle routes[edit]

There are several bicycle routes in the city of Huntsville. Madison County has a master plan to develop a 70-mile bicycle and walking trail.[citation needed]

Politics[edit]

Madison County was formerly an overwhelmingly Democratic county as with most of the rest of Alabama, with only a narrow loss by Al Smith in 1928 due to Prohibitionist anti-Catholicism[14] disrupting this trend until the 1960s. Even in 1964, the county nearly voted against Barry Goldwater due to its opposition to the Arizona Senator’s privatization plans for the Tennessee Valley Authority. However, since that time, the county has become solidly Republican, with the only national Democratic nominee to carry the county since 1960 being Deep South native Jimmy Carter in 1976. In the 2016 election, Gary Johnson had his best showing in the state, carrying 4.05% of the vote. The county is trending less Republican recently, 58.9% in 2004, 56.9% in 2008, 54.8% in 2016, and 52.8% in 2020. For counties supporting Donald Trump in 2016, it was the 4th narrowest margin.

The governing body of the county is a commission. The commission is responsible for levying the county tax, establish, maintain, and discontinue county roads and bridges. The commission is also responsible for the county jail as well as the sheriff's department. The County Commission is composed of seven members. A Chairman is elected at-large by the county while each of the other six members is elected by their districts. Each commissioner serves a four-year term.[15] In 2020, Violet Edwards made history becoming the first black woman to be elected to the Madison County Commission.[16]

United States presidential election results for Madison County, Alabama[17]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 102,780 52.77% 87,286 44.82% 4,701 2.41%
2016 89,520 54.79% 62,822 38.45% 11,047 6.76%
2012 90,884 58.47% 62,015 39.90% 2,529 1.63%
2008 86,965 56.88% 64,117 41.93% 1,817 1.19%
2004 77,173 58.88% 52,644 40.17% 1,245 0.95%
2000 62,151 54.85% 48,199 42.53% 2,968 2.62%
1996 50,390 49.96% 42,259 41.90% 8,209 8.14%
1992 51,444 47.71% 38,974 36.14% 17,416 16.15%
1988 53,575 67.06% 25,800 32.29% 519 0.65%
1984 50,428 64.54% 26,881 34.40% 825 1.06%
1980 30,604 47.03% 30,469 46.82% 3,999 6.15%
1976 20,959 36.59% 35,497 61.96% 831 1.45%
1972 38,899 73.42% 13,108 24.74% 977 1.84%
1968 13,213 25.43% 8,004 15.41% 30,736 59.16%
1964 14,279 51.93% 0 0.00% 13,217 48.07%
1960 5,299 32.34% 10,959 66.88% 128 0.78%
1956 2,993 24.63% 9,054 74.52% 103 0.85%
1952 1,623 16.36% 8,216 82.82% 81 0.82%
1948 466 13.22% 0 0.00% 3,060 86.78%
1944 455 8.39% 4,951 91.33% 15 0.28%
1940 566 9.28% 5,515 90.44% 17 0.28%
1936 514 8.26% 5,661 91.01% 45 0.72%
1932 559 10.35% 4,792 88.76% 48 0.89%
1928 2,695 50.11% 2,681 49.85% 2 0.04%
1924 368 14.23% 2,166 83.76% 52 2.01%
1920 489 14.64% 2,822 84.49% 29 0.87%
1916 215 8.69% 2,206 89.17% 53 2.14%
1912 150 5.47% 2,146 78.21% 448 16.33%
1908 277 11.13% 2,168 87.10% 44 1.77%
1904 182 7.87% 2,119 91.61% 12 0.52%
1900 1,679 31.27% 3,641 67.80% 50 0.93%
1896 2,548 37.73% 4,056 60.06% 149 2.21%
1892 3 0.05% 3,046 45.72% 3,614 54.24%
1888 2,595 54.77% 2,136 45.08% 7 0.15%


Places of interest[edit]

Madison County is home to Monte Sano State Park, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, and part of the Flint River. It also contains Hampton Cove Golf Course, part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. There is a historical marker for Lincoln School and Village which were incorporated into Huntsville in 1956.[18]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b A Digest of the Laws of the State of Alabama: Containing The Statutes and Resolutions in Force at the end of the General Assembly in January, 1823. Published by Ginn & Curtis, J. & J. Harper, Printers, New-York, 1828. Title 10. Chapter II. Page 80-81. "By Robert Williams, Governor of the Mississippi Territory." (Internet Archive)
  2. ^ "Commission Chairman". Madison County Alabama. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 6, 2022.
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  5. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 196.
  6. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
  7. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Counties: April 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021". Retrieved April 6, 2022.
  8. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
  9. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
  10. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 24, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
  11. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
  12. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  13. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved December 17, 2021.
  14. ^ Phillips, Kevin P.; The Emerging Republican Majority, pp. 214, 261 ISBN 978-0-691-16324-6
  15. ^ "Madison County Commission". Retrieved November 7, 2020.
  16. ^ "Violet Edwards elected Madison County's first Black woman commissioner". Retrieved November 7, 2020.
  17. ^ "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  18. ^ Alabama Historical Marker: Lincoln School and Village.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°45′57″N 86°33′28″W / 34.76583°N 86.55778°W / 34.76583; -86.55778