Thomasville, Alabama

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Thomasville is a city in Clarke County, Alabama, United States. At the 2000 census the population was 4,649. It is notable as the childhood hometown of author and storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham, who refers to it often in her storytelling.



Thomasville was founded in 1888 and has its roots in the nearby town of Choctaw Corner. Choctaw Corner, dating back to the 1850s, was a settlement west of what would become Thomasville, but when the merchants there learned that a railroad was going to bypass their town to the east, they decided to move their stores to be near the railroad.[2] The tracks between Mobile and Selma were completed the same year that Thomasville began. The town was named after a railroad financier and former Union Civil War general, Samuel Thomas, who donated $500 for the construction of Thomasville's first school.[3] The town had expanded by the end of the 19th century with numerous stores, several hotels and boarding houses, and a depot station.[3] In 1899, what is now downtown was destroyed by a fire that burned several blocks of the wood frame buildings. Thomasville quickly rebuilt, this time in brick, and was once again flourishing by the start of World War I.[2]

Over the next century, Thomasville continued to grow and expand. Over the years, many businesses came and others left. These included garment factories, sawmills, and cotton gins.[3] The railroad discontinued its use of the town's depot by the 1950s, but that time also saw the opening of Thomasville's FPS-35 radar base, part of the Air Defense Command's Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, bringing in servicemen and their families.[3] The prototype for the FPS-35 radar was developed at the Thomasville Aircraft Control and Warning Station.[4] The 1950s also saw the planting of roses along Highway 43, the main highway through Thomasville, earning it the nickname of The City of Roses. The 1960s and 1970s saw the opening of numerous paper mills in the area, an industry that continues to be important to the economy of Thomasville today. This time also saw businesses begin to relocate from downtown to the main highway. The Thomasville Historic District was designated in 1999 by the National Register of Historic Places.

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