The Melungeons blog

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Tennessee The Volunteer State Vol 1 page 827


McMinn County was created on November 5, 1819, out of lands ceded by the Cherokee Indians to the United States in that year, and was named for Joseph McMinn, who was governor at that time.

McMinn, Monroe and Bradley counties embraced the largest and best portions of the land thus ceded.

"A new judicial circuit was established in lower East Tennessee, composed of seven counties, of which McMinn was one, and the Hon. Charles F. Keith, then a leading lawyer of Jefferson County, Tennessee, was elected the first judge, and held the first Circuit Court in the county, at the house of John Walker, in the town of Calhoun, on the Hiwassee River, fourteen miles southwest from Athens, the present county seat, on the first Monday of March, 1820."17

Maj. John Walker was part Cherokee and laid off the town of Calhoun on land allotted him and named it for John C. Calhoun. In 1821-1822 the Town of Athens was laid off and, in 1823, the courts of the county were moved there. Noted members of the Athens bar were: Return J. Meigs, Spencer Jarnagin, Thomas Campbell, later clerk of the House of Representatives in Congress, and J. W. M. Brazeale, the historian.

Early settlers in McMinn County were: A. R. Turk, E. P. Owen, John Cowan, George Colville, and Eli Sharp.

After he had served his third successive term as governor, McMinn was appointed agent to the Cherokee Indians and, on his death, was buried in the yard of the Presbyterian Church at Calhoun which was built in 1823.

A pretty romance is told of the marriage of Miss Emily Meigs, daughter of Return J. Meigs, to the son of John Walker. The young man was very handsome but as he had Cherokee blood, her father opposed the union. So they eloped. But, as he was a Cherokee chief, he was compelled to placate his people by espousing an Indian girl, named Nancy Bushyhead. He was murdered by two Indians as he was returning from the council which decided upon the Cherokee cession.