Dallas County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census, its population was 43,820. The county seat is Selma. Its name is in honor of United States Secretary of the Treasury Alexander J. Dallas, who served 1814-1816.
Dallas County comprises the Selma, AL Micropolitan Statistical Area.
Dallas County was created by the Alabama territorial legislature on February 9, 1818, from Montgomery County. This was a portion of the Creek cession of lands to the US government of August 9, 1814. The Creek were known as one of the Five Civilized Tribes of the Southeast. The county was named for U.S. Treasury Secretary Alexander J. Dallas of Pennsylvania.
Dallas County is located in what has become known as the Black Belt region of the west-central portion of the state. The name referred to its fertile soil, and the area was largely developed for cotton plantations, worked first by enslaved African Americans. After emancipation, many of the African Americans who stayed in the area worked as sharecroppers and tenant farmers.
The county is traversed by the Alabama River, flowing from northeast to southwest across the county. It is bordered by Perry, Chilton, Autauga, Lowndes, Wilcox, and Marengo counties. Originally, the Dallas county seat was at Cahaba, which also served as the state capital for a brief period. In 1865, the county seat was transferred to Selma. Other towns and communities in the still mostly rural county include Marion Junction, Sardis, Orrville, Valley Grande, and Minter.
Cotton production suffered in the early 20th century due to infestation of boll weevil. The still mostly rural county reached a peak of population in 1960, as younger people have left to seek work elsewhere. The county is working on new directions for economic development.
At the turn of the 20th century, the state legislature disenfranchised most blacks and many poor whites through provisions of a new state constitution requiring payment of poll tax and passing a literacy test for voter registration. These largely survived legal challenges, but in the postwar era of the 1950s and 1960s, African Americans mounted new efforts across the South to be able to exercise their constitutional right as citizens to register and vote.
From 1963 through 1965, Selma and Dallas County were the sites of a renewed Voting Rights Campaign. It was organized by locals of the Dallas County Voting League, and joined by SNCC activists. In 1965 they invited help by SCLC leaders. This campaign attracted national and international news in February and March 1965. Two activists were killed before the final march took place.
On March 7, several hundred peaceful marchers were beaten by state troopers and county posse after they passed over the Edmund Pettus Bridge and out of Selma, on a march to the state capital of Montgomery. It was covered by national media. The protesters renewed their walk on March 21, having been joined by thousands of sympathizers from across the country and gained federal protection, to complete the Selma to Montgomery March. Later that year, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Millions of African-American citizens across the South registered and voted in the subsequent years, participating again in the political system.
Massillon, a railroad stop 14 miles west of Selma (Lat: 32° 26’ 16”N, Long: 87° 17’ 45” W), is part of the Ghost Town USA's Guide to the Ghost Towns of Alabama, hosted on RootsWeb.