Hartselle: Past Present and Future

By Randy Garrison, Hartselle Mayor

Hartselle’s Main Street during the 1950s, decorated for Christmas. (Photo courtesy of Hartselle Historical Society)

Hartselle was founded in 1870 by George Hartsell looking for a stop along the railway. This area offered a preferred location and thus the city we now call home was born. Hartselle was an agricultural area and businesses offering services related to agriculture soon sprang up around the railroad depot which was located on what is now Railroad Street.

Hartselle continued as an agricultural area for many years with many who resided in nearby communities making their living from the fertile soil in the area. Many of those who resided in Hartselle offered retail or banking to those who came into Hartselle to conduct business.

With the growth of industry in nearby Decatur and Huntsville as well as industry that located in Hartselle after World War II, the community expanded and moved away from the agricultural roots that were grown deep in the area.

Hartselle continued to grow and expand not only in population but in area as well with land that was previously farmed, now sold, divided and used as property locations for new housing for those now calling Hartselle home and for expanding families.

Hartselle took a huge step in 1973 when the city fathers pulled away from the Morgan County School System and Hartselle City Schools was formed. As the school system grew so did Hartselle. The city continues to be known for the highly ranked test scores from Hartselle schools and the system continues to bring new families to Hartselle for the educational opportunities.

Hartselle is also able to offer recreational areas that would be the envy of many larger cities, offering fields for football, baseball, soccer, basketball and an aquatic center. Hartselle also offers a state of the art playground for those with physical limitations. The city also supports and lends aid for high school sporting event playing fields as well.

Known as the “City of Southern Hospitality” Hartselle is also referred to as a bedroom community with many of its approximately 14,995 citizens living in the city, but leaving each day for employment in nearby communities. The preference for living a smaller community keeps many of those who were born and raised in Hartselle staying here, and those who chose to move here are looking for the same small community lifestyle.

The lifestyle offers a quieter and even safer area to live and raise a family. Hartselle also has an abundance of churches of many denominations which offer worship opportunities and involvement for our strongly faith-based community. These churches pull the community together in times of need and are always ready to lend a helping hand to those who are in need of food, shelter, clothing, a shoulder to cry on and prayer for better days.

Hartselle is governed by a city council made up of five elected officials. The mayor serves as the CEO of the city and handles the day to day operations of the city and carries out the desires of the council. The council also approves an annual budget with city departments using it to operate during the fiscal year, guided by the city clerk and mayor.

The citizens of the City of Hartselle recently voted to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages with the city limits. This will bring about a change for Hartselle, which had remained “dry” since 1933. Members of the city governing body are counting on this change to help bring in new business and industry to the city. Hartselle is very dependent on sales tax to fund their needs and this will be another avenue not only to recruit but also the sales tax brought in will help fund capital projects. The city has not been able to fund many capital projects for the past few years; the advent of alcohol tax may offer some relief in replacing aging equipment for city departments as well as offering monies to pave city streets, many of which are past due for new asphalt.

Hartselle has been, is now and will continue to be a desirable area for many to call home. The current leaders are working hard making plans to improve the lives of those who live here and planning for the future for those who will come afterward.