Cherokee County History


Cherokee County was formed in 1839 from a part of Macon County, and is North Carolina’s western most county, bordered by the states of Tennessee and Georgia, and located in the southern tip of the Great Smokey Mountains. Cherokee County was named to honor the Cherokee Indians who inhabited this area before being removed and relocated to Oklahoma in 1838. Those who escaped removal to Oklahoma now live on the Cherokee Indian reservation in Cherokee, NC. Cherokee County has a historical museum, displaying over 2000 authentic Indian artifacts discovered in Cherokee County (The museum is located next door to the Courthouse).

Acts & Treaties

President Andrew Jackson approved the Indian Removal Act of 1830; which provided removal of all Indians to Oklahoma. In 1835, the New Echota Removal Treaty was signed and plans were executed to remove the Cherokee Indians. Many Indians defied the government and went into hiding in the wilderness of the Blue Ridge Mountains, now known as Cherokee, NC Indian Reservation. Under the New Echota Removal Treaty of 1835, over 17,000 Indians were removed from NC, TN, KY, Ill, Ms, and Arkansas to Oklahoma. It was a miserable road that the Cherokee endured for 6 long months in the bitter cold. 1 out of every 4 Indians died on the march. This long, sad journey is known as the Trail of Tears.


Cherokee County is comprised of two towns; the town of Andrews, and the town of Murphy. Murphy is the County Seat for Cherokee County, and was named after Archibald D. Murphy, who was a Senator and advocate for education in Western North Carolina. Cherokee County is in the 11th Congressional District, 50th Senate District, and the 120th Representative District

North Carolina map showing location of Cherokee County and surrounding towns