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Early McMinn County History

Notes on early history, towns, churches and schools

Historical Overview

The organization of this new county formed from Indian Lands was known as the "Hiwassee Purchase" and was signed in Washington, D.C. on 27 February 1819, between:John C. Calhoun, Secretary of Warand the following Cherokee Chiefs:

Hicks, John Ross, Lewis Ross, John Martin, James Brown, George Lowrey, Gideon Morgan, Jr., Cobbin Smith, Stephen Rabbitt, Samuel Wood, John Walker and Cherokee Dick.

On the 13th of November, 1819; the State Legislature at Murfreesboro passed the Act which formed McMinn county, which was named after Governor Joseph McMinn.

Calhoun was chosen as the first county seat in 1819 but in 1823 Athens was designated to represent the county and its people. Eli Hurst, a merchant in Athens, was credited with naming the town in 1821. The ridges and hills surrounding Athens reminded him of descriptions of the capital of Greece.

Calhoun, being the oldest town in the county, was settled in 1821 and named for Secretary of War, John C. Calhoun, who served as Vice President under Andrew Jackson. Being situated on the Hiwassee River, it was an ideal location for a paper mill which is today, the largest newsprint plant in the United States.

Etowah was first known as Grady before the L&N Railroad organized the town in 1905 and in 1906 gave it the name of "Etowah". The name is contributed to it being a Creek word for "tribe" or "town" and also for it being a Cherokee word for "muddy waters".

Cherokee History


This area was named because it was home to the Cherokee towns that were on the western slopes of the Appalachian Mountains - overhill from the Lower Cherokee settlements. The OVERHILL is composed of the southeast counties of McMinn, Monroe and Polk, as well as the southern portion of the Cherokee National Forest.

Early Churches

  • Jones Chapel Church

  • Friendship Baptist Church (Now in Polk County)

  • Clear Springs Presbyterian Church

  • Wesleyana Methodist Church

  • South Liberty Church of Christ

  • South Liberty Methodist Church

  • Eastanallee Baptist Church

  • South Liberty Baptist Church

  • Double Springs Church

  • Clark's Chapel Methodist Church

  • New Zion Baptist Church

  • Crittenden's Fork Baptist Church

  • Goodsprings Baptist Church & School

  • Mars Hill Presbyterian Church

Early Schools

  • Double Springs School

  • Hanks Chapel School

  • Big Foot School

  • Wesleyana School

  • Jones Chapel School

  • Dogwood School

  • Clear Springs School

  • Piney Grove School

  • Gravel Hill School

  • Goodsprings School

  • Womac's Academy - located on Cedar Springs Road

  • Womac's School - also known as 'Pine Knot School'

  • Simpson School


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