Washington County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. The county was named in honor of George Washington, first President of the United States of America. As of the 2010 census, the population was 17,581. Its county seat is Chatom. Washington County is a dry county.
The area was long inhabited by indigenous peoples. In historic times, European traders encountered the Choctaw and later Creek Indians, who were driven southwest from Georgia by encroaching European settlement.
European-American settlers organized Washington County in Tombigbee District by proclamation of Governor Winthrop Sargent of Mississippi Territories on June 4, 1800. It is the oldest county in the State of Alabama and was settled mostly by people from the Southeast moving west after the American Revolutionary War. Washington County is home to the site of St. Stephens, the first territorial capital of Alabama, and was the scene of the 1807 capture of Aaron Burr at Wakefield, Alabama during his flight from prosecution for treason.
Although in the 1830s, the US government removed most of the Choctaw and Creek were removed to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River, some chose to remain in this area of Alabama and become state citizens. They have struggled to maintain Choctaw culture as the whites imposed a binary culture of white and "all other" people of color classified as black. In 1979 the MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians was recognized by the state. The people are concentrated along the border of Mobile and Washington counties.
During the American Civil War, more than three-fourths of the adult men volunteered and served in the Confederate Army as of 1863. At that time, a group of children petitioned the CSA to avoid drafting men, so they might serve as a sort of homeland militia. The petition said the men were needed to protect against potential slave uprisings, inasmuch as the county had numerous plantations with large slave populations.
The county was declared a disaster area in September 1979 due to damage from Hurricane Frederic.
Note: Populations for 1800 and 1810 are totals of those counties of Mississippi Territory entirely or mostly within present-day Alabama. Population for 1820 excludes three counties, Lawrence (8,652), Perry (4,118), and Washington (3,646), whose returns were received too late for inclusion in the official State total.
Dumphries, located near Bilbo's Landing, near where the Tombigbee River meets Bilbo Creek, is part of the Ghost Town USA's Guide to the Ghost Towns of Alabama, hosted on RootsWeb.