The Cobbs of Southeastern Tennessee


The area of southeastern Tennessee involved was of course originally the home of the Cherokee.  The Calhoun Treaty and resulting Hiwassee Purchase of 1819 opened the area for white settlement.  Certainly there were whites in the area long before that date, but immigration (where the surname Cobb is concerned) did not take place until after the treaty date, when several counties were formally established and the technicalities of land ownership was no longer an issue.


DAILY POST ATHENIAN/Sesqui-Centennial Edition, June 10, 1969, p. 10-D.

Starr Mtn. once western boundary of country.

In 1817 the U. S. Federal Government bought from the Cherokee Indians all the land between Hiwassee, Little Tennessee and Big Tennessee Rivers lying west of Starr Mountain and the foothills of the Smokies; and that part of Polk County lying north of the Hiwassee River. The old Cherokee capital, Echota, was on Tellico River below the Plains. The Cherokee towns on Valley River in North Carolina were called the Overhills Towns. This purchase of 1817 was called the Hiwassee Purchase. So Hiwassee River and Starr Mountain were the boundaries of the United States from 1817 to 1836.

Sometime after the purchase, the land was laid out in Townships and Sections which, according to history, was the first place ever to be done so.

John Ross was Cherokee Chief for 40 years and lived in the vicinity of Chattanooga. Chattanooga was first called Ross' Landing, and the present town of Rossville was named for him. The Old Ross Home at Rossville it still standing. (Can be toured.)

Soon after the sale of the Hiwassee District the Federal Government began trying to buy the remainder of the Cherokee lands, but Ross persistently refused to consider a sale.

The Cherokees were divided into two parties. A large majority of them followers of Ross and the minority party led by John Ridge.

Failing to deal with Ross, a government representative held a meeting with the Ridge Party at Red Clay in Bradley County in December 1835 and contracted with that Party to buy all the remainder of the Cherokee Lands which extended from Hiwassee River to Chatahooche River in Georgia for the sum of five million dollars. Another meeting was held in June 1836 and the treaty was amended and another million dollars given for a school fund.

The treaty with the Ridge Party provided that the Indians vacate the land and move west to what was afterwards known as the Indian Territory. The Ridge Party complied with the treaty and moved west, but the Ross Party refused to move. The Federal Government finally sent troops into the territory and gathered them together, except in the mountains of North Carolina where there are still a goodly number of them."

(Transcribed by Mr. Bill Bigham and extracted from the McMinn County USGenWeb website.)

(All Rights Reserved.)



I have NOT made an attempt to research this in depth, but it appears that McMinn and Marion counties are the only ones directly created from former Cherokee lands.  Two others (Hamilton and Monroe) were “technically” created from other established counties, but the land itself had actually been originally a part of the Hiwassee Purchase. 

Those counties that were formally established by 1820 were McMinn, Hamilton, Monroe, and Marion.  Bradley was created in 1836, and Polk in 1839.

The platting of land into sections and townships began as soon as counties were organized.   It is speculative on my part that the ability to hold official title to a legally defined parcel of land was what served as the catalyst or ‘drawing card’ that attracted immigrants from elsewhere in the region.

McMinn County was established in 1819, and Cobbs were purchasing land there within a year.  There is as yet no documented basis for saying their arrival pre-dates the 1819 treaty.

There were no new counties created in Georgia, North Carolina, or South Carolina from land acquired under the terms of the Hiwassee Purchase in 1819.  However, it is a fact that non-Indian encroachment into what had formerly been Indian Lands played a prominent role in the creation of new districts and counties.  In 1826, the old Pendleton District of South Carolina was broken up with the establishment of Pickens and Anderson Districts.  Oconee County was created from Pickens and Anderson in 1868.  (Under the terms of “Reconstruction” following the War Between the States, all South Carolina districts were reorganized and re-designated as counties.) 

The most prominent role played by the Carolina states in the history of southeastern Tennessee, was to provide an inestimable number of pioneer immigrants to the latter place.  To be sure, there was a non-Indian population in the area of the Hiwassee Purchase long before the 1819 treaty.  The very purpose for native-American displacement to begin with was to make room for more whites.  As stated earlier, the real “boom” in non-Indian immigration however, seems to have begun after the treaty date, when the legal technicalities of land ownership was no longer an issue.