Haralson County History

from Haralson County, Georgia, Comprehensive Plan, 1994-2014: Including the Cities of Bremen, Buchanan, Tallapoosa, and Waco dated October 1994 and prepared by the Coosa Valley Regional Development Center.

Understanding a community's development over time is important to the preservation of its historic resources. Such a developmental history is useful when conducting historic resource surveys, in making local designations of historic properties or districts, in preparing local historic preservation plans, and is a required part of a historic district or multiple property National Register nomination.

Haralson County, Georgia, has a rich and distinctive history that makes it unique and distinguishes it form other counties in the State. The developmental history that follows is not meant to be a complete history of the county. Rather, it concentrates on some of the aspects of that history that have significantly impacted the county's physical growth and pattern of development.



Haralson County to 1880

Haralson County was created by an act of the Georgia General Assembly on January 26, 1856, taking land from Carroll and Polk Counties. The area south of the Cherokee line had been Creek Indian territory until 1825, at which time it became part of Carroll County. Land in that area was surveyed into 202.5 acre lots and was distributed for settlement by the State in the land lottery of 1827. The approximately 25 to 30 percent of Haralson County north of the Cherokee line became a portion of Cherokee County in 1831 and was distributed for settlement in 40-acre gold lots in the 1832 Cherokee gold lottery. That same year, it became part of newly created Paulding County, and in 1851, it became part of Polk County.

Tallapoosa was a small crossroads settlement well before Haralson County was created and appears on Bonner's 1849 map of Georgia. George White, in Statistics of the State of Georgia (1849) lists Tallapoosa and Burret [Burnt] Stand as Carroll County post offices. One of the earliest and most important roads in the southeast ran through these settlements, east to west across the area. This was the Middle Alabama Road via Villa Rica, sometimes also known as "the Tallapoosa Road" or the "Sandtown Road." It was paralleled by the Coosa River routes to the north and by the McIntosh and Oakfuskee traces to the south. Passing just north of present- day Temple, Georgia, the Middle Alabama Road entered Haralson County and passed through Burnt Stand and continued westward, eventually passing through Tallapoosa. After leaving Tallapoosa, the Alabama Road was known in earlier days as the "Jacksonville Road," as it was used to reach the area in and around Jacksonville, Alabama.

The site for a county seat of Haralson County was selected in May 1857, in a central location. First named Pierceville, the county seat was shortly renamed Buchanan. The town appears to have been laid off in a grid pattern, using the Washington-type courthouse town plan. The town of Buchanan was incorporated on December 22, 1857, with the corporate limits being one-half mile in all directions from the center of public square. The first courthouse was erected in 1858.

Other than Buchanan, post offices in 1860 included Newsville, Repose, Burnt Stand, Etna, and Tallapoosa. The, town of Tallapoosa was incorporated on December 20, 1860. Like Buchanan, its corporate limits were a circle of one-half-mile radius, with the center being "where the roads cross each other." (In 1880, these roads were known as the Cedartown and Arbacoochee and the Buchanan and Jacksonville Roads.)

The new county's population in 1860 was only 3,039. Agricultural production was equally low. There were only 14,047 improved acres in farms, with the main crops being corn, wheat, oats, tobacco, and cotton. Out of the State's 132 counties, Haralson ranked 70th in wheat production, 107th in corn production, 95th in oats, 21st in tobacco, and 101st in cotton, producing only 609 bales in 1860.

Haralson County's population increased to 4,004 by 1870 and to 5,974 in 1880. Thus, from 1860 to 1880, population increased 96.6 percent. Improved land in farms increased little more than a proportionate 103.6 percent, to 28,603 acres. The county had 889 farms, averaging 145 acres in size. The main crops, by acres planted, were corn (13,048 acres), wheat (4,909 acres), cotton (4,860 acres), and oats (2,736 acres). Despite production increasing, a relatively small portion of the county's land area was in agricultural production, and the estimated value of Haralson's farm products ($201,025) ranked 107th out of the State's 137 counties.

A brief description of Haralson County was given in Thomas P. Janes's A Manual of Georgia (1878). According to Janes, Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture, only 27 percent of Haralson County's tillable land had been cleared. There were 21 free public schools for whites and 1 for Blacks, 10 Baptist churches, 8 Methodist, 6 Primitive Baptist, and 1 Christian. In regard to mining, the Manual states that the county's principal minerals were copper and gold, with six shafts of copper being worked with success and gold washings to a limited extent. Only one manufacturing establishment, a wool factory, was mentioned.

No details were reported for the county's towns, but according to the 1880 census, Buchanan had a population of 158 and Tallapoosa had a population of 52. The 1880 census gave the number of manufacturing establishments in the county as 13, employing 26 persons. The value of the county's, manufactured products ($46,423), like the value of its farm products, ranked towards the bottom of the State's 137 counties--102nd. The census provided no breakdown of manufacturing establishments by type but most likely produced flour and gristmill products and sawed lumber.

Haralson County 18811900

The decade of the 1870s had been a period of national depression, regional instability, and limited outside investment. The booming 1880s, however, brought increased outside investment, renewed railroad construction, and dramatic growth and development. Not until the financial panic of 1893 and the following depression did growth and development slow. During the 1880s two railroads were constructed through Haralson County. The first, and probably the most important for Haralson County, was the Georgia Pacific (Southern) which was built east to west through the county in c. 1882-84. The second was the Chattanooga, Rome, and Columbus (Central of Georgia), built through the county north to south in c. 1887. Service on this line was completed between Chattanooga and Carrollton by May, 1891.

Haralson County's population increased 89.4 percent during the 1880s, growing from 5,974 in 1880 to 11,316 in 1890. Population growth slowed in the 1890s, however, increasing only 5.4 percent to 11,922 in 1900.

During the 1880s, total land in farms declined modestly, although improved land in farms increased from 28,603 acres in 1880 to 39,060 in 1890. The main crops, by acres planted, continued to be corn (13,514 acres), cotton (9,132 acres), oats (3,838 acres), and wheat (1,842 acres). Fruit production began to increase, with 28,070 bushels of peaches and 22,978 bushels of apples harvested in 1889. The estimated value of Haralson County's farm products, however, continued to rank 107th out of Georgia's 137 counties.

By 1900 there were 1,517 farms in the county and improved land in farms had increased to 48,921 acres. Corn was still the leader in acres planted with 16,905. Cotton accounted for 11,849 acres, wheat, 1,764 acres, and oats, 2,212 acres. The value of Haralson County's farm products not consumed by stock rose from $279,930 in 1890 to $455,363 in 1900. This figure ranked Haralson County 95th among Georgia's counties.

Peaches, apples, and melons were grown, but the most interesting agricultural phenomenon in the 1890s was the development of a significant grape growing venture within the county in c. 1893-97. Most of the vineyards were located east of Tallapoosa, including the communities of Buda and Nitra which developed during the period, and in the vicinity of Steadman. According to the U. S. Census on Agriculture in 1900, Haralson County had 665,885 grapevines and produced 1,593,536 pounds of grapes. No other county in Georgia even came close to these figures. Coweta County was second with less than one-fourth of the production. According to Georgia: Historical and Industrial (1900), Haralson County was "a great county for vineyards, of which there are 500, covering 5,000 acres." Only about 25 percent of the grape production was marketed. The great majority was used in wine making. Two wineries were located in Tallapoosa, and according to the 1900 U. S. Census, 64,115 gallons of wine were produced in Haralson County--more than 15 times the production of second place Houston County.

Manufacturing increased significantly during the 1880s. According to the 1890 census, there were 39 manufacturing establishments with 369 employees in Haralson County. Much of this growth can be attributed to the industrial development begun at Tallapoosa in c. 1887-88. Flush times in Tallapoosa continued until c. 1893, when outside capital began to be withdrawn. The 1895 Sanborn maps show at least 10 of the manufacturing establishments at Tallapoosa as "not in operation," "not running," or "vacant." This decline was offset to some extent by the development of fruit-related industries in the late 1890s, but by 1900 average employment in manufacturing had dropped to only 216 wage earners, and the value of products declined from $285,329 to $277,391. Georgia: Historical and Industrial (1900) mentions, in.addition to the two wineries, a fruit canning establishment, a charcoal pig-iron furnace, a glass factory, several flour and gristmills and many small saw mills and planing mills. Regarding mining, the Royal Gold Mine at Tallapoosa had a plant costing $200,000 and other small mines were said to be in operation.

Growth and Development of Towns. 1881-1900

Bremen.

On October 6, 1882, the Carroll County Times reported that a new depot had been located on the Georgia Pacific "at the old Seventh Court Ground in Haralson County," and "that at the present time, there is no one living in three miles of the place." The new town of Bremen was platted and laid off in a grid of commercial and residential lots bisected by the railroad. The commercial lots were located at the center, on either side of the railroad, and a small park was located on the north side of the railroad at the center. On October 31, 1882, a public sale of town lots was conducted and on September 5, 1883, the town of Bremen was incorporated. The corporate limits formed a rectangle, one-half mile east and west of the depot and one-fourth mile north and south of the railroad track.

When the Chattanooga, Rome, and Columbus Railroad was built through the county in c. 1887, the tracks crossed the Georgia Pacific about three-fourths of a mile northeast of the Bremen depot and about one-fourth mile east of the corporate limits established in 1883.

Growth and development in the area of the railroad crossing resulted in a shift in and expansion of the corporate limits of Bremen on December 15, 1892. The new rectangular corporate limits extended one-half mile east and 1,610 yards west from the crossing of the railroads and one-half mile north and south of the Georgia Pacific Railroad tracks. These corporate limits included the area around the railroad crossing as well as most of the "old town" area. On December 30, 1898, the shift of the town to the area of the rail crossing was completed when the corporate limits were again changed, this time extending 700 yards in every direction from where "Buchanan" street crossed the Southern Railroad. This small circle of four-tenths-mile radius, centered near the railroad crossing, was a significant reduction in Bremen's incorporated area and excluded most of the "old town" area. This fact is reflected in Bremen's population figures. Bremen's population in 1890 was 312. After the two changes in the town's corporate limits in the 1890s, the population in 1900 was only 291.

Buchanan.

On September 20, 1881, Buchanan's town limits were expanded from one- half to five-eighths of a mile in every direction from the center of public square. In c. 1887, the Chattanooga, Rome, and Columbus Railroad laid its tracks north-south through the eastern side of town, and about the time, rail service was completed between Chattanooga and Carrollton; in May 1891, construction was begun on a new county courthouse. Due to the influence of the railroad and an increase in its corporate limits, Buchanan's population increased from 158 in 1880 to 324 in 1890. Population increased modestly during the 1890s, reaching 359 by 1900.

Waco.

Lying along the Georgia Pacific Railroad 2.5 miles southwest of Bremen, Waco was a small unincorporated community when the railroad skirted its northern fringe. Known first as Dean, Waco was incorporated on September 23, 1885. The corporate limits extended one-half mile in every direction from the Methodist Protestant Church, or the center of the town. In 1890, Waco's population of 357 was greater than that of either Bremen or Buchanan. By 1900, however, population declined to 345, and Waco's population was surpassed by Buchanan's.

Tallapoosa.

Undoubtedly, the most significant events related to the development and growth of Haralson County's towns occurred at Tallapoosa during this period. In c. 1884 the Georgia Pacific Railroad laid track three-fourths of a mile south of the center of Tallapoosa, outside the corporate limits of the town. Beginning in July, 1887, Tallapoosa's development was stimulated by the investment and promotion activities of the Tallapoosa Land, Mining, and Manufacturing Company and subsequently, beginning in c. 1890, by the Georgia-Alabama Investment and Development Company. These companies successively owned or controlled large blocks of land in and around Tallapoosa and proposed to build a large and prosperous manufacturing and residential city and health resort. A city was platted and the promoters planned to build various manufacturing facilities, a public school building, a great hotel at Lithia Springs, streetcar lines, water works, electric light facilities, parks and various other public enterprises and improvements.

A boom resulted at Tallapoosa from c. 1887 until c. 1893, when outside investment slowed or was withdrawn. On December 26, 1888, the town was reincorporated as the City of Tallapoosa and the corporate limits were extended on a grand scale to include 17 land lots or more than 3,440 acres.

Growth and development of the new city was equally dramatic. Tallapoosa's "old town" population stood at only 56 in 1884; but according to the 1890 census, the new City of Tallapoosa, centered along the Georgia Pacific Railroad, had reached a population of 1,699 by the end of the decade.

Tallapoosa's boom phase continued into the early 1890s. A Prospectus of the City of Tallapoosa published by the Georgia-Alabama Investment and Development Company in 1891 claimed that Tallapoosa had 13 manufacturing establishments operating or under construction, a state bank (the Merchants and Miners Bank), 3 hotels, Lithia Springs Park and Gardens and the great Lithia Springs Hotel under construction, 2 newspapers, an electric light company and 36 street lights, a waterworks, 5 churches (2 Black), 2 schools (1 Black), 30 stores, and nearly 700 houses, with two-thirds having been built in the past two years.

Some additional commercial, industrial, and residential development occurred before Tallapoosa's boom period stalled, including the construction of several additional brick commercial buildings, the construction of a street railway system, and the completion of the Lithia Springs Hotel. The previously noted industrial decline was partially offset by the development of fruit-related industries later in the decade, and the Lithia Springs Hotel attracted large numbers of visitors to the city.

Some reports claim Tallapoosa's population reached 2,500 to 3,000 in the early 1890s, during the height of the boom. After the boom subsided and the economy stabilized somewhat, the city had an official population of 2,128 in 1900. This figure indicates a net population gain of 25.2 percent over the decade of the 1890s. Thus, in 1900, Tallapoosa had almost six times the population of Buchanan, the county's second largest town.

Haralson County 1901-1920

Haralson County's population increased steadily during the first two decades of the twentieth century. The county's population in 1910 was 13,514, a 13.4 percent increase from 1900. Population growth continued during the 1910s, though more slowly, and reached 14,440 in 1920.

Improved acres in farms increased from 48,921 acres in 1900 to 59,645 acres in 1910. The number of farms increased from 1,517 to 1,925 while average size declined to 77.3 acres. The tenancy rate was 48.9 percent. By 1910 cotton had supplanted corn as the leading crop in acres planted, 21,838 acres to 16,512. Oats accounted for only 1,854 acres; hay and forage, 1,018 acres; and wheat only 822 acres. The 1910 census reported 80,358 fruit trees in the county, mostly apple and peach.

The most notable change in agricultural production was the dramatic demise of the grape-wine venture in the county. What had been an exclamation point in the agricultural statistics of 1900 was just a whisper in 1910. The 1910 census reported only 8,978 vines in the county and a production of only 23,876 pounds of grapes--just 1.5 percent of the 1900 production and less production than 40 other Georgia counties. The vineyards generally did not prove profitable to the many nonresident owners, and the passage of a state prohibition act in 1907 effectively put the wineries out of business as of January 1, 1908. Consequently, the vineyards disappeared about as rapidly as they had appeared a decade earlier.

By the end of the 1910s, improved land in farms had increased to 66,009 acres. The number of farms increased to 2,068 and size declined to an average of 68.2 acres. According to the 1920 census, 24,123 acres were planted in cotton and 20,483 in corn in 1919. Hay and forage accounted for 3,874 acres and wheat and oats combined, only 1,112 acres.

Probably the most significant development in manufacturing during this period was the establishment of the Tallapoosa Cotton Mill in 1908. Even with this new industry, net gains in manufacturing from 1900 to 1920 were modest. The 1920 census reported 39 manufacturing establishments in Haralson County employing an average of 360 persons. These figures are virtually the same as those reported in 1890.

The City of Tallapoosa easily remained the largest community in the county. With the demise of the grape-wine industry, population declined slightly to 2,117 in 1910. The establishment of the Tallapoosa Cotton Mill late in the decade spurred renewed modest growth, however, and during the 1910s the population increased 28.4 percent to 2,719 in 1920.

Bremen's population jumped 205.8 percent from 1900 to 1910, when it reached 890. This large increase was due in part to a 300 percent increase in the incorporated area when the town was incorporated as the City of Bremen on August 20, 1906. At that time the corporate limits became 1,400 yards in every direction from where the Central of Georgia Railroad crossed the Southern Railroad. With no additional increase in area, the city's population increased only to 917 by 1920. During this period, Bremen's main industry was the Mandeville Oil Mills, which made oil and meal from cotton seed.

On December 13, 1902, Buchanan was also incorporated as a city, but with no change in corporate limits. The city's population reached 462 in 1910, a 28.7 percent increase from 1900, and reached 491 in 1920. Waco's population remained fairly stable during this period but remained below its 1890 population. Waco's population in 1910 was 326, and in 1920 it was 333. On August 16, 1915, Waco's corporate limits were extended from one-half to five-eighths of a mile in every direction from the Methodist Protestant Church.

As of January, 1917, there were six post offices in Haralson County. They were at Tallapoosa, Bremen, Buchanan, Waco, Draketown, and Felton.

Haralson County. 1921-1944

There was no net growth in Haralson County's population from 1920 to 1940. Population declined 8.2 percent during the 1920s to 13,263 in 1930. This loss was mostly recaptured during the 1930s when population increased 8.4 percent to 14,377 in 1940--a figure just below the 1920 population.

Dramatic cotton price declines and the threat of the boll weevil had a profound effect on farming from 1920-25. Considerable land was left idle during this period and the number of farms declined. After 1925 cotton briefly regained much of its former importance. Then the Great Depression hit in 1929. Farm prices fell, and many had to stop farming. Haralson County's acreage planted in cotton declined from 24,123 in 1919 to 16,175 in 1924, and then it rebounded to 19,791 acres in 1929. Acreage planted in corn was 20,483 in 1919, 19,668 in 1924, and 16,251 in 1929. The number of farms in the county declined from 2,068 in 1920, averaging 68.7 acres, to 1,841 in 1930, averaging 76.3 acres.

The number of farms increased to 1,982, averaging 74.1 acres, in 1935 and then declined significantly to 1,629 in 1940, averaging 90.3 acres. The tenancy rate was 56.3 percent in 1930. It increased to 57.9 percent in 1935 and then declined to 52.7 percent in 1940. New Deal farm programs in the second half of the decade began to help reverse the tenancy rate and number of small farms and forced many tenants and marginal farmers off the land.

Corn production remained fairly stable during the 1930s with 20,743 acres planted in 1934 and 19,113 planted in 1939. Hay production began to increase with 2,060 acres planted in 1934 and 3,506 acres in 1939. Cotton, meanwhile, declined to 12,775 acres planted in 1930 and to 11,745 acres planted in 1939--less than one-half the acreage planted in 1919.

During the period of declining farm employment, manufacturing began to exert a greater impact, with workers off farms supplying much of the labor force. According to the U. S. Census of 1930, an average of 461 persons were employed in manufacturing in Haralson County, up from 360 in 1920. During the 1930s, however, employment in manufacturing more than doubled. In 1940 the U. S. Census reported seven manufacturing establishments in Haralson County, employing an average of 1,012 persons.

The main growth in manufacturing came at Bremen, as a clothing industry began to develop during the late 1920s and the 1930s. Mandeville became Bremen Looms in 1924 and Bremen Mills in 1929, making men's shirts. Bremen Mills closed at the end of 1931 and reopened in 1933 as a subsidiary of Cluett and Peabody. In 1928 Sewell Manufacturing Company was established, making men's suits, and in 1935 Hubbard Pants Company was established at Bremen. At Tallapoosa, the cotton mill struggled during the depression and finally closed in c. 1938-39. The plant was eventually purchased by American Thread Company and reopened on January 1, 1944.

Tallapoosa, Buchanan, and Waco, like the county as a whole, experienced a decline in population during the 1920s. From 1920 to 1930, Tallapoosa's population declined 11.1 percent to 2,417, Buchanan's population declined 12.6 percent to 429, and Waco's population fell 37.5 percent to 208. Only Bremen experienced population growth in the 1920s. Bremen's population reached 1,030 in 1930, increasing 12.3 percent with no increase in incorporated area.

During the 1930s, Buchanan and Waco regained population. Buchanan's population reached 504 in 1940, slightly surpassing its 1920 population, and Waco's population grew to 304 in 1940, regaining most of the loss during the 1920s. Tallapoosa's population, however, declined another 3.3 percent to 2,338 in 1940.

Most of the county's population growth in the 1930s occurred at Bremen. Again with no increase in its corporate limits, Bremen's population increased 65.8 percent, reaching 1,708 in 1940. Shortly thereafter, on March 18, 1941, the City of Bremen extended its corporate limits from 1,400 to 2,100 yards in every direction from where the Central of Georgia Railroad mainline crossed the Southern Railroad mainline--a 125 percent increase in the incorporated area.