North Carolina Education - Cherokee County

Year County Established

County Webpage Herein

County Seat Webpage Herein

1839

Cherokee County

Murphy

In 1820, the American Baptist Foreign Mission Board appropriated funds for a church, boarding school, and model farm for the Cherokee Indians at Aquonatuste, a small Natchez Indian community in present-day Cherokee County. The Aquonatuste site was one of five such missions established in the area and was constructed with the aid of a prominent local mixed-blood chief named Currahee Dick. At the time of its founding, the mission was in Haywood County.

Under the supervision of Evan Jones, who translated the New Testament into the Cherokee language using the Sequoyah alphabet, the mission opened its doors in November of 1820. Soon afterwards, as many as fifty (50) Cherokee children were brought to the school by their parents to learn English and practice Christianity. A mixed-blood pupil named James Wafford aided Jones in compiling a spelling book that utilized both English and the Sequoyah alphabet.

Humphrey Posey, a Baptist preacher and teacher from Burke County, was appointed the school principal in 1822. Shortly thereafter, he organized Valleytowns Baptist Mission School, as it became known, into the most successful and popular such Protestant institution within the Cherokee nation. In addition to the model farm, Posey also organized the construction of a blacksmith shop and a gristmill to offer further vocational education to the Cherokees. Under Jones and Posey’s supervision, the mission trained future Cherokee leaders such as Peter Oganaya, John Wickliff, and James Wafford who led the political resistance to the New Echota Treaty and eventually took part in the Trail of Tears.

When the United States military began the removal of the Cherokee, they disbanded the mission. In 1836, the Federal government expelled Evan Jones from the Cherokee nation for continuing to administer to his congregation and students, and for inciting and aiding rebellious factions. However, he joined his former pupils at Fort Cass and in 1838 left for Oklahoma with one of the emigrant detachments. He settled on the Cherokee reservation in Oklahoma and attempted to rebuild the Valleytowns Baptist Mission there.

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources.

On January 8, 1851, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a Resolution to authorize a loan of $2,000 to Mount Pleasant Academy in Cherokee County. Interest is to be paid semi-annually.
On February 16, 1855, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a Resolution for the North Carolina Literary Board to loan $2,000 to Mount Pleasant Academy in Cherokee County for five (5) years.
On February 17, 1859, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate the Shoal Creek Male Academy in Cherokee County. Ten (10) trustees were named in the Act, and the school was authoried assets up to $10,000.
On February 3, 1875, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a Resolution to donate the property of Mount Pleasant Academy, owned by the State, to be given to Cherokee County. If the school is closed, the property reverts back to the State.
On February 18, 1891, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate Bell View High School in Cherokee County. Twenty-five (25) trustees were named in the Act.
On March 5, 1891, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to authorize qualified voters in the town of Murphy to decide whether to levy a special tax to fund graded public schools in the town of Murphy in Cherokee County.
On March 3, 1893, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate Andrews High School in the town of Andrews in Cherokee County. Five (5) trustees were named in the Act.
On March 12, 1895, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to authorize all qualified voters in Cherokee County to decide whether to levy a special tax in each township to fund public schools in the county. Each township may decide on its own.
Also on March 12, 1895, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to abolish the Board of Education in both Clay and Cherokee Counties. Duties will be performed by county commissioners.
On March 6, 1899, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to authorize Cherokee County school districts to pay for making out property tax lists for special school taxes to be levied.

The John C. Campbell Folk School was incorporated by Olive Dame Campbell and Marguerite Butler on November 23, 1925. Located in Brasstown on the Clay/Cherokee County line, six miles southeast of Murphy, the school has twenty buildings and 366 acres of land. John C. Campbell (1867-1919) was born in Indiana but became one of Appalachia’s earliest and most energetic advocates. In 1907, he married Olive A. Dame of Medford, Massachusetts. Mr. Campbell was attracted to the folk school idea, but never lived to see it realized. Mrs. Campbell, after visits to Denmark in 1919 and 1920, chose the Danish model for the school she named after her late husband.

Local craftsmen have been involved with the schools, as teachers and as students, since its beginnings. The first courses were offered in December of 1927. A credit union cooperative, backed by the school in 1926, benefited a few local people but did not prosper. An agricultural cooperative was more successful though it suffered during the Depression. The school itself began to thrive after it was marketed and promoted heavily by Mrs. Campbell, especially at the Southern Highland Handicrafts Guild, which she helped found in the late 1920s.

In 1946, Mrs. Campbell retired as director; she died in 1954. Her replacement, D. F. Folger, sought to make the school a teacher training institute but was asked to leave by the board of directors. In 1951, George Bidstrup, himself a Dane, returned the institution to its original folk school concept. In order to survive financially over the years, the school’s leaders regularly have made changes in the curriculum while generally adhering to the Campbells’ ideals. The original core of agricultural and liberal arts courses have been replaced by offering in crafts, self-sufficiency skills, music, and dance.

David Whisnant, in his study "All That is Native and Fine," was critical of the school’s role in the history of Appalachia, seeing it as typical of “systematic cultural intervention” by outsiders. He did praise Mrs. Campbell for having chosen a non-ideological path for the school.

The above write-up (with edits) was provided by the North Carolina Highway Marker program. Click Here to read and to view their sources.

 
 


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