The City of Lincoln’s history begins with the Indians who were the first settlers here. The Indians were the Muskogee and the local tribes in our area were called the Conchardee. The Conchardee are gone now, but they have left their imprint on our area. Many of the local place names serve to remind us of these first settlers. There is Blue Eye Creek which begins near the Talladega/Calhoun County line and winds its way through Lincoln. Blue Eye Creek's namesake is remarkable in the fact that the story of its name comes from one of the best known local legends. It was supposedly named after a Conchardee chief who had one brown eye and one blue eye and because this was so rare the creek was named in his honor, or so the legend says. Chocolocco Creek is also a tribute to their presence and named for another local chief. This creek runs through the south end of the city and at last survey was just short of being called a river.
During the War of 1812 Andrew Jackson and his men camped at Fort Strother on the banks of the Coosa River near Ten Islands, just north of Lincoln. They arrived at the fort with no supplies and foraged for food over a wide area. The Lincoln area was noted by these men to have a good supply of fresh water and fertile land and many came back after the war was over to settle the area. Andrew Jackson also cut a trail through Lincoln on his way to Talladega for the Battle of Talladega. This battle took place on what is now known as Battle Street in the heart of Talladega. This battle was between the Red Sticks, a sect of the “Creeks” opposed to white control, and Andrew Jackson’s men. Since then, the trail has been paved and is now known as Jackson Trace Road, part of it running parallel to the Talladega Superspeedway.
The first post office in Lincoln was established on January 29th, 1850. At that time the name of the post office and the area around it was called Kingsville with Jesse Calhoun as the first postmaster. On January 17, 1856 the post office officially became known as the Lincoln Post Office with Jesse Hardin named as the first postmaster.
The town was named for a soldier in the War of Independence. This man’s name was Benjamin Lincoln and he became known as the Defender of Charleston for his valor in the line of fire. His fame spread all the way across the Southern states. General Benjamin Lincoln was second in command of the Revolutionary Army and accepted the sword of surrender from General Cornwallis at the Battle of Yorktown, which ended the War of Independence. Early settlers brought the name from North Carolina or Georgia. These early settlers were Theodore Burns, John Groce, and Henry Turner and the Tucks. While some of their descendants still live in the area, other early settlers names were: Embry, McClellan, Bell, Burns, Montgomery, Acker, Wilson, Watson, Kirksey, Weed, Brewer, Mynatt, Collins, Groce, Dickinson, Franklin, Schmidt and Jones. Many of these early settlers came by wagon to develop the wilderness and make homes for their families. Some were farmers, others ministers and teachers, a few doctors, millwrights, carpenters and a few merchants.
The Georgia Pacific railroad came through Lincoln in 1883. The laying of the railroad actually moved the town 1/4 mile south of the old site. The new businesses were centered around the railroad. The Georgia Pacific was one of the four railroads to be built connecting the west coast to the east coast.
Lincoln was incorporated in 1911. The first mayor was W.D. Henderson with the first council members being: L.U. Dickinson, J.L. Richey, J.M. Cunningham, W.N. Jons and W.D. Davis. W.C. Madden was the town cleark and Lon Embry was the constable. The area of the new town was slightly over one square mile.
One of the first acts of business was to open Third Avenue between Magnolia and Chestnut Streets and extend Magnolia Street to the high school area. This was very important because Lincoln had been selected as the site for the new Talladega County High School. E.D. Acker and R.D. Burns, members of the Alabama Legislature deserve much of the credit for the school being located in Lincoln, although they never officially received much credit for it.
Before the Depression, as with most small towns in the South, cotton was the primary industry and all business was centered around the railroad. There were two banks, fifteen businesses, a hotel, a cottonseed oil mill and two cotton gins. The town had electricity and a telephone system.
The 1929 crash closed both banks and gradually strangled the businesses in town. In the same year, U.S. Highway 78 was constructed through Lincoln, and businesses were built along the new highway. During the 1930’s a water system was installed under the WPA program by then Mayor James I. Kirksey. In the 1960’s Interstate 20, part of the Eisenhower Interstate System, came through Lincoln prompting more entrepreneurs to open businesses around the 165 exit and 168 exit. U.S. Highway 78 and Interstate 20 now are primary business areas of the city. In 1966 Talladega National Bank and Isbell Bank announced they would open branches in Lincoln. Later those banks would change their name to Regions Bank and The First National Bank, in 2002 Metro Bank came to the city.
In 1998 Honda began its search for a site in Alabama for a new automobile plant. Late February 1999 contact was made with the city about locating a large tract for a potential industry. In the following week an option was obtained from T. J. Watson & Sons for 1,550 acres. April 1999 the mayor was informed that Honda would make an announcement on May 6, that they would construct their new auto plant in the city. The plant initially constructed the Odyssey later adding the Pilot, Ridgeline and Civics. The state constructed the 67,500 square foot training center across the street from the Honda Plant.
Lincoln has been rated as one of the fastest growing cities in the state. By 2006 over 20 new subdivisions were under construction in the city. With Honda’s arrival in the city, U.S. Highway 78 was widened from Alabama Highway 77 to Stemley Road, this portion of Stemley Road is now known as Honda Drive. A number of the old businesses on the south side of the highway were removed to make way for the widening of the highway. In particular the buildings lost were: Allred's Auto Repair which was formerly a Shell Station (1931), Dairyland (1957), and the Pik-A-Dilly Convenience store (1969).
In 2011, Honda announced the production of the Acura MDX at the Lincoln facility to begin in 2013. Record sales in the first six months of 2014 have strengthened the third-generation MDX’s position as America’s best-selling three-row luxury SUV – not only in 2014, but of all time. In fact, the MDX has topped all other three-row luxury SUVs in the annual sales rankings in every year since 2002. Cumulative U.S. sales of MDX are anticipated to surpass 700,000 units before the end of the year.
Lincoln was awarded a 3.4 million Alabama Department of Transportation Grant (ATRIP) in 2013 to widen SR77 at the intersection of Magnolia Street. The second phase will widen (three lanes) the section of Magnolia Street from SR77 to include curbing and a sidewalk. As Magnolia Street is the southern gateway to our city, this will greatly enhance our city's commercial district. This attracted the Auto-Truck Travel Plaza giant, WilcoHess to locate in our city. With a capital invest exceeding 7 million dollars and an annual payroll of nearly 1 million dollars, WilcoHess, Wendys and Dunkin Donuts will be a gamechanger for our retail economic development.
City broke ground on a new Lincoln Public library in 2013. The 1.3 million dollar facility will increase our library floor space almost 400%.