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Coffee County was created by the Alabama legislature on December 29, 1841, from what had been part of Dale County. It was named for General John Coffee, a hero of the Creek War of 1813-1814. Coffee County is located in the southeastern part of the state and is bordered on the north by Pike County, on the east by Dale County, on the south by Geneva County, and on the west by Covington and Crenshaw counties. It encompasses over 680 square miles. The first county seat was at Wellborn.

The county courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1851, and the following year the legislature authorized an election to be held to select another site. The town of Elba, then called Bentonville, was chosen. Today, Coffee County maintains two courthouses (Elba and Enterprise). The present Elba courthouse, constructed in 1903, survived the floods of 1929 and the 1990s. Although high water stains remain on the walls, this building continues to serve the western division of the county. In 1843, William Peoples served as Coffee County's first Sheriff.

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