HDR - History


Elba is the County Seat of Coffee County and is centrally situated in the Wiregrass Region of Southeast Alabama alongside the confluence of Whitewater Creek and the Pea River. With a current population of around 4,000 residents, Elba is home to several business and industry enterprises: Pitts Enterprises, Inc. (Dorsey Trailers), Kelley Foods of Alabama and National Security Insurance were founded in Elba. In addition to numerous local professional and retail enterprises, agriculture (peanuts, poultry and forestry) is a driving force in the area economy.

The community (originally called Bridgeville) was formed in the 1830’s, shortly after Alabama became a state. In the early 1850’s, the town was selected as the County Seat, incorporated and the name changed to Elba through a contest in which names suggested by local residents were placed in a hat. One local had been reading a biography of Napoleon and proposed the name Elba.

The Pea River has been central to Elba’s location and history. Originally called Talakhatchee (”Pea Branch”) by the Creek Indians, the river has shaped the town’s history and culture. Like many river towns, Elba has been the beneficiary of the vase natural resources that accompany a river system and, at the same time, has suffered through three major floods in the last century (1929, 1990 and 1998). Today the river is a major attraction for fishing, canoeing, kayaking and nature observation.