Moses L. Choate, a native of Livingston, Tennessee, had started a settlement called Springfield on his land grant in 1835, and wanted the seat of government located there when Polk County was organized out of Liberty County in 1846. He offered to give the new county one hundred acres of land if Springfield was selected as County Seat and the name of the town be changed to Livingston, for his former home in Tennessee. Although this was very generous offer made by Choate, the legislature required that an election be held to determine the location of the County Seat for the newly organized Polk County. Thus, by election in June 1846, Springfield was decided upon and the name was changed to Livingston.
Old Homes of Livingston
John English, a brother-in-law of Moses L. Choate, bought 500 acres of land north of Livingston, on which he built a two-story house of hand-sawed lumber. Mr. William M. Matthews bought the place in 1854 and was forced to sell it after the Civil War. The property was acquired by the Bean family, and is still owned by them.
The C. H. Davison home was the first prefabricated house in the county. It was cut out and partially fabricated in St. Louis and shipped here for assembly by R. A. Corry in 1887-1888. This home has a hand-carved staircase, mantles and wainscot, and is owned by a Davison daughter, Mrs. J. W Leggett.
The Gordie Nettles home was built in 1895 of long leaf pine and cypress siding and trim. It is of Victorian design with "gingerbread" trim.
Other old homes are the W K. McCardell home, the Kit Jackson home, the old Hill homes, the J. W Cochran home, the two Drew homes, the Judge. C. Feagin home, the J. L. Manry home, the Tom Fitze home, the M. M. Baker home, the J. L. Muller home, and the Frank Manning home (now used as a business).
A major fire destroyed most of the City of Livingston in 1902. Just after the fire, a brick factory was built on a site south of Choate's Creek.
Original organizers and owners included George Sawyer, A. L. Sawyer, George Smith, and most of the local business men of that time. Later, Dr. Robert D. Willis owned an interest.
Buildings still standing which were built of locally produced brick include the Ward Jones building, the H. B. Davis store, and the J. W Cochran building. The Jones building was originally built for the First National Bank in 1902.
In August of 1902, one major fire took every building between Abbey and Polk Streets, except the Courthouse, a brick building.
Prohibition was the issue and a citizen, said to have been in illicit liquor business, was accused of burning the town. He was tried in Livingston, but there was a hung jury. The case was moved to Huntsville and he was cleared.
A smaller fire about a year later caused the death of one man. A Mr. Zimmermann, who was helping to put out the fire, was hit by a shotgun blast and killed.
No insurance was available at that time to help cover losses by fire. One businessman, who lost stores in both fires, was unable to rebuild the second time.
The first church building in Livingston was the Methodist, built sometime between organization in 1849 and October 27, 1859, when the deed was recorded. Polk County conveyed to the trustees of the church Block No. 40 as a gift to be used as a Sunday School and church. Soon a building was erected and other faiths also worshiped in the same structure. Another lot was purchased on September 19, 1905, and another building erected in 1906. The original building was moved to the northeast part of town and used as a place of worship by the African Methodist Church.
In the 1850s the Baptist Church was organized and preaching's were held in the community church. About 1882 they erected a small frame church on the site where Central Baptist Church now stands. In 1906 this building as replaced by a red brick church costing about $4,200.
The First Baptist Church was started in 1884 when M.B. Stone came to Livingston from the Bold Springs community, and he and others organized the church after a disagreement with the original Baptist Church of Livingston members. The actual division came in 1904. The Baptist Church organized in 1847 became known as the Central Baptist Church and remained on the original site.
The First Presbyterian Church was organized in Livingston in 1881 and services were held in the school house, but later the Methodists kindly offered the use of their church for preaching services once a month and Sunday School every Sunday afternoon. In 1884, J. M. Crosson, who was county judge at that time, presented the congregation the block of land on which the church now stands; the purchase price of the lot being $10. A building was erected which was used until a brick building was completed. The first manse was erected in 1890.