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In 2008 citizens from the towns of Charleston and Calhoun came together for the purpose of discussing the possibility of forming a historical group that would begin the efforts to recognize, preserve and promote the rich history of the surrounding area.  Within a few short months the group had grown significantly and an official historical society was organized with officers and a board of directors. The name "Charleston-Calhoun-Hiwassee Historical Society" was chosen to encompass both towns and the surrounding river areas.  The Hiwassee River was a key part in the formation of both towns and their rich history.  Today the historical society is an active group that has drawn great attention to the history of both Charleston and Calhoun.  The society is working with various individuals and governmental agencies to secure possible funding for an interpretive and welcome center that would serve the area.  We hope you enjoy your visit to our website as you begin your journey into the area history of the Cherokee Indian Nation, the Civil War, the homes and people of these two small river towns. 

Calhoun:  The Calhoun area was settled by John Walker (c. 1770-1834), a part-Cherokee grandson of Nancy Ward and a prominent figure in the formation of McMinn County. Walker operated a ferry along the Hiwassee River and helped contract the Cherokee Turnpike Company in 1806, which maintained the road between Knoxville and Georgia. In 1819, Walker helped negotiate the Calhoun Treaty, in which the Cherokee ceded the remaining lands between the Little Tennessee River and the Hiwassee River, including what is now McMinn County. This treaty was known as the Hiwassee Purchase.  McMinn County was organized at Walker's house that same year.  In 1820, Walker laid out the town of Calhoun, which he named for the Calhoun Treaty's chief U.S. negotiator, John C. Calhoun.  Former governor of Tennessee, Joseph McMinn, for whom McMinn County was named, lived in Calhoun during his tenure as Indian Agent.  He died in 1824 and is buried in the Shiloh Presbyterian Cemetery.

 Charleston:  In the early 1800's, the present day town of  Charleston was known as Walker's Ferry.  John Walker, a  part-Cherokee grandson of Nancy Ward, lived in and  operated a ferry across the river in the present day town of  Calhoun.  In 1819 the Cherokee Indians relinquished their  lands north of the Hiwassee River  to the United States  government.  Land South of the Hiwassee River and West to  the Tennessee River became known as the Ocoee District.  The Cherokee Indian Agency was moved to the area at this  time.  The present day area of Charleston was still Indian  territory and passports were required of white settlers to  enter this Indian Nation.  Lewis Ross, brother of John Ross  was a notable merchant in the town at this time.  Colonel  Return Jonathan Meigs, a Revolutionary soldier was the first  Indian Agent.  After his death in 1824, Meigs was followed  by former Governor Joseph McMinn.  The Indian Agency  was  often referred to as the gateway to the Indian country.  During the Indian Removal of 1838, known as "The Trail of  Tears", Charleston was the site of Fort Cass, an encampment  that detained thousands of Cherokees awaiting their  transport to Oklahoma.   Overlooked until now, Charleston  is emerging as one of the most historic areas in the state.