Named for Irish-born Confederate General Patrick R. Cleburne, killed at the Battle of Franklin, Cleburne County was formally established in November 1866, when the state of Alabama carved it out of Benton County, which had included today's Cleburne, Calhoun, Talladega and Randolph counties.
An 1855 census showed a population of 20,010 in Benton County.
Before settlers came into Cleburne County from Georgia and the Carolinas, Native Americans lived in the territory and the boundary for the Upper Creek and Cherokee Indians ran through a portion of the county.
Oakfuskee, considered the largest community of the Creek Confederacy, was located on the Tallapoosa River in Cleburne County.
Two other large Creek towns in Cleburne County were Niufaka and Atchinalgi along the Tallapoosa River. Atchinalgi was destroyed during the Creek War of 1813.
The oldest white settlement in the county was Ranburne.
Early settler Thomas Blake came to the area in 1825 with a number of slaves and set about farming. Settlers traveling the McIntosh Trail established the communities of Muscadine, Palestine, Bordens Mill, Kemps Creek and Arbacoochee.
Families included Towsends, Bowlins, Parkers, Roberts, Steeds, Wheelers and Bordens