Fort Payne is the county seat of DeKalb County, Alabama. As of the 2010 census, Fort Payne had a population of just over 14,000. Like many towns in the area, Fort Payne was originally inhabited by members of Cherokee Nation. Before donning the name “Fort Payne,” the city was commonly referred to as Willstown.
Before Native Americans were extracted from what is now Fort Wayne, Major John Payne constructed a fort used to intern Cherokees until they could be relocated to Oklahoma. This practice came to be known as the Trail of Tears. In the 1880s, Fort Payne began to experience significant economic growth due to the region’s coal and iron deposits.
After former president Bill Clinton signed into law the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Fort Payne’s textile industry began to shrink considerably. Various Chinese firms were accused of exporting socks below cost, resulting in significant damage to the city’s hosiery mill employment.
Popular locations within or near the city limits of Fort Payne include Little River Canyon National Preserve, DeSoto State Park, Manitou Cave, Guntersville Lake, Weiss Lake, Coosa River, Mentone and Lookout Mountain. Educationally, Fort Payne is home to Wills Valley Elementary, Williams Avenue Elementary, Fort Payne Middle School, Ruhama Junior High School and Fort Payne High School.
Notable residents include Miles C. Allgood, Weston Burt, Jeff Cook, Teddy Gentry, Randy Owen, Thomas H. Cook, Jerry Ellis, Milford W. Howard, Lt. Gen. Forrest S. McCartney, James McKinney, Edward Stinson and Katherine Stinson.
The DeKalb County Circuit Clerk is located at 300 Grand Avenue S., Suite #202, in Fort Payne, Alabama, 35967.