In the 19th century, Henry County covered the southeast corner of Alababama. A few towns had been established but the area was primarily timberland and farmland. Many "crossroads" settlements had appeared with homes and stores and one-room schools scattered about. In the mid 1800's an influential landowner, W.S. Wood, moved into this isolated area from Columbia and the future began to take shape. A small town was in its beginning. In February of 1903 a new county was formed from parts of Henry and Geneva counties. It was given the name of Houston in honor of Gov. George S. Houston. Two months later in April of 1903, the Town of Cottonwood was incorporated making it the first town established in the new Houston County. The town's name may have come from either Mr. Wood or from the Cottonwood trees growing in the area. That, however, is a debated issue. General stores, a bank, mills (turpentine, grist, timber, etc.) sprang up. At least two lumber companies constructed logging railroads through the town. One remained in service into the 1940's as a freight service from the Cowarts area to Bascom, FL. The early 1920's saw an interest  in drilling for crude oil in the area. Several attempts would find only a hot mineral water spring. Mr. J. R. Sealy capitalized on this find and established an internationally known health spa. The Sealy Hot Mineral Springs remained in business until fire destroyed it in 2001. The 20th century saw  an economic roller coaster. Cottonwood has seen good times and bad times, as has every small town in the USA.

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