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The Alabama Territorial General Assembly created the county on February 13, 1818. This was almost two years before Alabama became a state. It was formed from land that the Chickasaw Indians had acquired through the Treaty of 1816. Marion County encompassed all of the current territory, as well as parts of Winston, Walker, and Fayette counties in Alabama. It also included portions of Itawamba, Lowndes, and Monroe counties in Mississippi. The county was named after General Francis Marion, an American Revolutionary War soldier from South Carolina, who was also known as "The Swamp Fox". Marion County's earliest settlers were from Kentucky and Tennessee after General Andrew Jackson established The Military Road. Pikeville and Hamilton were the first settlements in the area. Winfield and Guin were later added.
In 1818, Cotton Gin Port, which is now near Amory, Mississippi, was established as the country's first permanent seat. It was moved to Henry Greer's home on the Buttahatchee River in 1819. In 1820, Pikeville was established as the first permanent county seat. This ghost town is located between Hamilton and Guin along U.S. Highway 43. Pikeville was the county seat for Marion County from 1882 to 1882. The home of Judge John Dabney Terrell Sr. who served as the third county judge house is still standing, despite the fact that the town has been abandoned. Hamilton was made the county seat in 1882. On March 30, 1887, Hamilton's first courthouse was set on fire. The second Hamilton courthouse was also destroyed. In 1901, a new courthouse was built from local sandstone. The building was substantially remodeled in 1959 to reflect the "international style" of 1950s architecture.