Dekalb County Timeline

Some of the events that shaped DeKalb County into what it is today: Land that was originally occupied by the Cherokee Nation.

1780  ›  The area now known as Fort Payne and DeKalb County was Willstown and Wills County, named for Cherokee Chief “Red-Head” Will Weber.

1820’s  ›   Sequoyah, a Cherokee Indian known for creating a syllabary that taught an illiterate tribe to read and write, moves to Willstown.

1823  ›   The Wills Towne Mission established. A roadside historical marker commemorates the event.

1835  ›   Treaty of New Echota signed which brought about the forced removal of Indians and the tragic era of the Trail of Tears.

1836  ›   County officially named DeKalb County for American Revolutionary War hero Johann Sebastian DeKalb.

1837  ›   Late in 1837, Federal Troops arrived in Will’s Valley to establish a fort for the purpose of removing the Cherokee Indians from the area.

October 1838  ›   Last group to depart on Trail of Tears.

1840  ›   Lebanon becomes the fifth County Seat in four years and the first permanent County Courthouse is built. It served as County Seat for 38 years.

1860’s and 1870’s  ›   The railroad comes to DeKalb County.

1869  ›   Fort Payne becomes official city name.

May 5, 1878  ›   Fort Payne becomes County Seat. The current courthouse is one of three in Fort Payne to have been built since 1878.

1884  ›   Mineral Springs are found in Mentone, touted as healing agent. Mentone Springs Hotel is built nearby the springs as a health spa.

1885  ›   Coal and Iron Ore are discovered.

1888  ›   The Fort Payne Coal and Iron Company is organized and the Boom begins.

February 28, 1889  ›   The City of Fort Payne is incorporated.

1889  ›   Fort Payne Opera House and the Hardware Manufacturing Company’s 3-story brick building is built.

1891  ›   The Fort Payne Depot is built.

1893  ›   Coal and iron deposits play out and a larger vein is discovered in Birmingham’s Red Mountain. Investors pack up and move South. Boom ends.

1903  ›   The Council Bluff School was erected.

1900’s  ›   Hosiery industry is born in DeKalb County. Today – over 100 plants, employing over 5,000, shipping out over 3-million dozen pairs of socks each week. We are the “Sock Capital of the World!”