Bessemer County

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Bessemer County was a proposed new county to be created by splitting off the western section of Jefferson County (the "Bessemer Cut-Off").

The idea was first suggested in 1888, within two years of Henry DeBardeleben's founding of the city of Bessemer, the proposed county seat, and within a year of its incorporation. The December 20, 1888 edition of the Bessemer Journal laid out the arguments, and the Bessemer Workman newspaper also took up the cause. From that year forward, the matter was brought up in every subsequent bienniel legislative session. At that time there was a constitutional limit of 640 square miles as the minimum area for a new county.

In 1893 the state legislature enacted a partial solution, creating the Jefferson County Circuit Court Bessemer Division as a separate court outside the jurisdiction of the Jefferson County Circuit Court which has its seat in Birmingham.

The S. E. Jones Company, a real estate business with offices in Bessemer's Rebie Hall Block, was active in promoting the idea by publishing pamphlets and lobbying the Alabama State Legislature. They argued that the people living in the Bessemer area were paying "a large proportion of taxes" to Jefferson County, but "not getting our prorate of the public improvements," and cited the "democratic principle of home rule." The map accompanying their November 1900 leaflet indicated that the new county would have had an area of 607 square miles and a population of more than 35,000 people, making it the state's 13th largest county.

This would be achieved by ceding 385 square miles in the western part of Jefferson County, along with 127 square miles of eastern Tuscaloosa County, 41 square miles of southeastern Walker County, 30 square miles of northeastern Bibb County and 23 square miles of northern Shelby County.

Eventually counter-lobbying from Birmingham interests led the legislature to adopt an act curtailing the creation of new counties.

See also