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 resettlement 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 resettlement 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 ra 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 Oafuskee 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 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 out in a grid pattern, using the Washington-type courthouse town plan. The town of Buchanan was incorporated on December 22, 1857, with corporate limits being one-half mile in all directions from the center of the 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 Decemeber 20, 1860. Like Buchanan, its corporate limits were described by a circle with a 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 by 4,004 by 1870 and to 5, 794 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 producation 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's tillable land had been cleared. There were 21 free public schools for whites and only one for blacks, ten Baptist churches, eight Methodist, six Primitive Baptist, and one Christian. In regard to mining, the Manual states that the county's principle 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 people. The value of the county's manufactured products ($46,423), like the value of its farm producats, ranked towards the bottom of the state's 137 counties (at 102). The census provided no breakdown of manufacturing establishments by type but most likely produced flour and gristmill products and sawed lumber.