The first settler in what is now Autaugaville arrived around 1820 and built a gristmill and sawmill on Swift Creek, about three miles upriver from the Alabama River. One source says that the town incorporated in 1839, but another cites 1907. A cotton mill opened in 1849 on the banks of Swift Creek, and following upon the model of industrialist Daniel Pratt, the owner constructed housing for its employees, thus expanding the town. It expanded further when many citizens from nearby Vernon relocated to Autaugaville to escape the floods and diseases to which that town was prone. By 1851, the town had a population of 351 and claimed four stores, two churches, and two schools.