Buford appears in historical records beginning in the early 19th century. The area that is now Buford was originally part of Cherokee territory. Despite the treaty in 1817 that ceded the territory to the United States and Gwinnett County's legislative establishment in 1818, the area was still largely inhabited by the Cherokee until the 1830s.[4] The first non-Native Americans moved to the Buford area in the late 1820s or early 1830s, although the Buford area was not largely settled by them until the 1860s.[4]

During the post-Civil War construction of the extended Richmond and Danville Railroad System in 1865, railroad stockholders Thomas Garner and Larkin Smith purchased land around the railroad's right-of-way and began developing the city of Buford.[4][5][6] The city was named after Algernon Sidney Buford, who was president of the Atlanta and Richmond Air-Line Railway during the railroad's construction.[6][7] The town began rapidly expanding around the railway after its completion in 1871,[4] and it was incorporated as the Town of Buford on August 24, 1872,[8] and renamed the City of Buford in 1896.[7]

The Bona Allen Shoe and Horse Collar Factory is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s Buford became widely known for its leather production, becoming prominently associated with the leather industry and earning the nickname "The Leather City".[9] Buford became a large producer of leather products, including saddles, horse collarsbridles, and shoes. Buford's leather industry began with a leatherworker named R.H. Allen[10] opening a harness shop and tannery[11] in 1868, three years before the completion of the railway and the founding of Buford.[12] R.H. Allen's brother Bona Allen moved to Buford from Rome, Georgia, in 1872 and founded the Bona Allen Company the following year.[13] The leather industry quickly became the city's largest industry despite setbacks from several fires,[11] including a fire in 1903 that destroyed the buildings of several businesses[14] and a fire in 1906 that destroyed a straw storehouse and nearly destroyed the city's harness and horse collar factory.[15]

Bona Allen saddles were available through the Sears mail order catalog,[12] and many Hollywood actors used saddles made by the Bona Allen Company, including cowboy actors[16] Gene Autry, the cast of Bonanza, and Roy Rogers, who used a Bona Allen saddle on his horse Trigger.[11] A statue of Roy Rogers and a Bona Allen saddle-maker saddling Trigger is located in downtown Buford.[11] The Bona Allen Company thrived during the Great Depression in the 1930s, likely as a result of the Depression forcing farmers to choose horses over expensive tractors, thereby increasing the demand for saddles, collars, bridles, and other leather products.[11]

The historic Tannery Row building in downtown Buford

The Bona Allen Company constructed Tannery Row in downtown Buford as a shoe factory in 1919.[16] After a brief employee strike the shoe factory was closed in 1942, although it was briefly reopened by the request of the federal government during World War II to make footwear for the military. Afterwards, the factory closed in 1945.[13] In 2003 Tannery Row became home to the Tannery Row Artist Colony, which houses galleries and studios for artists.[17]

After the Great Depression the use of horses for farming decreased and tractors took their place, and the Bona Allen Company steadily downsized until the tannery was eventually sold to the Tandy Corporation in 1968.[12] Buford's leather industry ended after the tannery experienced a fire in 1981, when the Tandy Corporation decided not to rebuild the tannery and closed the facility

ATL Listings identified with the FMLS IDX logo come from FMLS and are held by brokerage firms other than the owner of this website. The listing brokerage is identified in any listing details. Information is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed. If you believe any FMLS listing contains material that infringes your copyrighted work please click here to review our DMCA policy and learn how to submit a takedown request. © 2024 First Multiple Listing Service, Inc.
Last updated on Jul 23, 2024 7:23:am.