How did Alpharetta get its name?

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Alpharetta was founded in 1858 from an area that was initially a trading post and Methodist campground.

While there is no surviving documentation relating to how or why the name was chosen, there have been several theories of varying degrees of credibility over the years.

One theory, which was even touted by the city until it was debunked, was that the city was a combination of two greek words.

Another theory suggested the city was named after a Native American Princess who was driven out of the area on the trail of tears. Hold that thought, because it may contain a nugget of the truth.

The most probable explanation for the city’s name is not a real Native American Princess, but a fictional Native American maid who was the subject of an immensely popular song.

The song is “Blue Juniata” and the main character is a Native American maid named Alfarata, and referred to as “Bright Alfarata” in the song’s chorus. Local historians believe the name of the city is a modified spelling of the song’s main character. The Blue Juniata is a name of a river in the song.

While it wouldn’t be a Top 40 song today, in the late 19th century, it was all the rage. Alfarata and its derivatives became popular names for girls, ships, and yes — cities and townships. There is an Alfarata in Pennsylvania named after the same song.

Blue Juniata was written by Marion Dix Sullivan and it was released in 1844.

The song and its lyrics are below, so you can hear it for yourself. You’ve probably heard the familiar tune before — it has a familiar sound even if you may not have paid much mind to the lyrics.

Blue Juniata Lyrics

Wild roved an Indian Maid,
Bright Alfarata,
Where sweep the waters
Of the blue Juniata.
Swift as an antelope,
Through the forest going,
Loose were her jetty locks,
In wavy tresses flowing.

Gay was the mountain song,
Of Bright Alfarata,
Where sweep the waters
Of the Blue Juniata.
Strong and true my arrows are,
In my painted quiver.
Swift goes my light canoe,
Down the rapid river.

Bold is the warrior good,
The love of Alfarata,
Proud waves his snowy plume
Along the Juniata.
Soft and low he speaks to me,
And then his war cry sounding,
Rings his voice in thunder loud,
From height to height resounding.

Thus sang the Indian Maid,
Bright Alfarata,
Where sweep the waters
Of the Blue Juniata.
Fleeting years have borne away,
The voice of Alfarata,
Still rolls the river on,
Blue Juniata.


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