The mountains, rivers, streams, and farmlands of Monroe County, Tennessee are all rich in stories from the past; Stories than began long before our County was formed.
The Overhill Years
The area that is now Monroe County, Tennessee, was once the home of the Overhill Cherokee Nation. Famous Cherokees such as Sequoyah and Nancy Ward were born and once roamed these rivers and mountains.
The Unicoi Turnpike
The Unicoi Turnpike Trail, which runs between Vonore, Tennessee and Murphy, North Carolina, follows an ancient trade path that once connected the Overhill Cherokee Towns along the Tennessee and Tellico rivers to the coastal ports in Georgia and South Carolina, and eventually brought white traders into the Overhill Territory.
During the French and Indian War, the British Colony of South Carolina established Fort Loudon in what is now Monroe County, Tennessee. During its four year existence, the Overhill Cherokee allied with the British in their war against France. Traders and other settlers established homes around the Fort. However, in 1760 the relationship between the Overhill Cherokee and the British broke down, and in August of 1760, the Overhill Cherokee captured Fort Loudon and its garrison.
The Tellico Blockhouse was a fort established in 1794 by the U.S. Government on the Little Tennessee River across from the ruins of Ft. Loudon. This small garrison guarded the peace with the Cherokee Nation and established trade between the U.S. and the Cherokee. It was also a gateway into Cherokee territory, as all travelers had to apply for a passport onto tribal lands. The last Treaty of Tellico in 1805 between the U.S. Government and the Cherokee Nation called for the removal of the garrison south to the Hiwassee River. However, small settlements around the garrison such as Morganton still continued to thrive.
An 1817 Treaty with the Cherokee Nation sometimes known as the Hiwassee Purchase opened up land for settlement South of the Little Tennessee River to the Hiwassee River. In November of 1819, Monroe County, Tennessee was formed. Land grants were issued from the State of Tennessee to those willing to venture into this new territory. To the banks of the Little Tennessee and Tellico Rivers, the rich farmlands of the Sweetwater Valley, and the mountainous regions now known as the Cherokee National Forest, settlers came and set down roots in this picturesque region. Thus began the many cultures and family histories from a very diverse group of people known as Monroe Countians.