There have been hundreds of community and business leaders who have contributed to the ongoing development and shaping of modern Birmingham over the past 186 years. In 1818, four enterprising men including Elijah Willits, Benjamin Pierce, John Hamilton and John West Hunter, purchased the first parcels of land totaling 640 acres. Pioneer figures, like Hunter, became actively involved in local and county government to ensure that Birmingham’s promising future would be realized for generations to come.
Unlike other pioneering communities that attracted farmers looking for rich new farmland, Birmingham’s founders quickly established a manufacturer based local economy. Foundries, tanneries, blacksmith shops, broom and brick making factories were just some of the businesses that quickly defined this frontier community. Birmingham’s name was chosen by those optimistic about the potential growth of the village, with its manufacturing capabilities, after England's biggest industrial center.
Most of the manufacturers of the 1830s were gone by the 1860s and so were the visions of Birmingham as a major industrial center. Instead, the quiet Village of Birmingham emerged and officially incorporated in 1864. The first Village election was held at the house of James Grinley, on Tuesday, March 1, 1864. The following trustees were elected: J. C. K. Crooks, George L. Lee, Robert J. Mitchell, Samuel N. Hill, Hugh Irving, John Bodine, and C. W. Jenks. Crooks served as the first President and Samuel N. Hill was named Village Clerk.
The efforts of the first trustees and growing community eventually led to the incorporation of the City of Birmingham in 1933. Harry Allen was named first Mayor of the new city.
These biographical sketches, spanning the past 141 years, highlight and honor the men and women who have contributed to Birmingham’s rich community history through their public service. The original portraits of most of these public servants are on display at Birmingham’s City Hall.
This is a "work in progress" that will be updated periodically with the passing of time and as more information of past trustees and commissioners is brought forth. We anticipate and look forward to amending this webpage.
Many thanks to Patricia Andrews and Andy Huebner who spent countless hours searching the records at City Hall, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham Historical Museum’s archives and other special library collections. These two volunteers took meticulous notes that are now part of the permanent records collection at the Museum. Max Horton and Hartland Smith contributed in pulling the information together. Their comments and recollections were a great help. Museum staffers, Leslie Mio and Jenny Roush, were also instrumental in reviewing the data. Ron Petrella’s willingness to share his talent and time in designing and providing all the graphics for this publication is greatly appreciated. Finally, a debt of gratitude to the current City Commissioners, former Commissioners and Trustees for their personal and professional commitment to making Birmingham a special place over the past 141 years.
Biographical sketches A thru E
Biographical sketches F thru J
Biographical sketches K thru O
Biographical sketches P Thru T
Biographical sketches U thru Z
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