Haralson County was carved out of Carroll and Polk counties in 1856. It was named after Major-General (Militia) Hugh A. Haralson of LaGrange, who was a member of both the Georgia General Assembly and the U.S. Congress. Settled long before Haralson County’s oldest incorporated city, Buchanan, the county seat, came into being was the city of Tallapoosa. Like many towns in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, it began as a gold mining town. Although other names were used to refer to it in its early years (Pine Grove, Pineville, and Possum Snout), a Tallapoosa post office was established in 1839. Tallapoosa got its name from the nearby river of that name. (Tallapoosa is an Indian word of uncertain meaning.) Incorporated in 1860, less than a quarter of a century later it entered an extraordinary boom period during which it became known to investors and tourists throughout the North and Canada as a “Yankee City Under a Southern Sun.”
Tallapoosa is about 60 miles west of Atlanta and located on the Georgia-Alabama border. When settlers first arrived in present-day Tallapoosa in 1826, they found a popular meeting ground for Choctaw, Creek, and Cherokee tribes. More settlers started to arrive during the Georgia gold rush (1829-1840s) when a local farmer, William Owens, found gold in 1842.
Tallapoosa was incorporated on December 20, 1860, and named after the nearby Tallapoosa River. In an article published in the Columbus Enquirer-Sun on October 16, 1887, Tallapoosa was labeled as “A Georgia town with a great future,” because of the area’s mineral resources and the creation of the Tallapoosa Land, Mineral, and Mining Company, an enterprise founded by Ralph L. Spencer, a developer from Connecticut, earlier in 1887. The land surrounding Tallapoosa was also noted to be “fertile and very productive.”
The land drew another industry to Tallapoosa in 1888 when Spencer invited 200 Hungarian wine-making families, working in Pennsylvania mines, to the area just east of Tallapoosa. The new community was named Budapest, in honor of the capital of Hungary. After seeing their success, Slovaks migrated to the area and established the community of Nyitra (Nitra), named after the ancient fort in western Slovakia. Another community, the village of Tokaj, was named after the famous wine-making region of Hungary. Despite the success of the wineries, the prohibition act of 1908 halted production.