In 1838, as part of the Indian Removal, over 3,000 Cherokee citizens in North Carolina were marched from Fort Butler, near present-day Murphy.
Historical accounts point to multiple detachments that moved at different times. One current theory argues that at least some of the detachments traveled over Mecca Pike from Tellico Plains, TN to north of present-day Etowah, and on to Athens. TOHA is looking for family oral traditions, letters, diaries, journals, reminiscences that refer to the time period around 1838 or the Cherokee Indians passing through.
For the past year TOHA has worked with the National Park Service, community scholars and Dr. Brett Riggs, noted expert on the Cherokee Removal, University of North Carolina, to determine the route or routes taken through Monroe and McMinn counties during the Trail of Tears.
Two possible routes have been identified. The first route is a southern route that follows Mecca Pike from Tellico Plains to Etowah. The second route is a more northern route that goes from Tellico Plains to Mount Vernon and on to Middle Creek, near present-day Englewood.
Gerald Hodge, executive director for TOHA, said, “The importance of local knowledge and familiarity cannot be over emphasized.” He added, “We have found through many projects that families often have stories that they consider of little historical importance but it provides a critical piece of a puzzle that helps us paint the complete picture.”
People with information should contact Gerald Hodge at the Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association at 423-263-7232 or firstname.lastname@example.org