Monroe County’s early history is connected to that of the Cherokee Indian nation.
There used to be several important Cherokee villages in present-day Monroe County. Two of the most important ones were Tanasi (for which the Tennessee River and the state of Tennessee were named) and Chota.
Tanasi and Chota were deserted by the Cherokee after about 1819, when the Cherokee nation lost its possession of this part of the state.
A century and a half later, the Tennessee Valley Authority forever flooded the former sites of Tanasi and Chota when it created Tellico Dam.
Today there are memorials at the former site of Chota and near the former site of Tanasi.
The most famous person ever to have been born in Monroe County was also Cherokee. His English name was George Gist; his Cherokee name was Sequoyah.
Sequoyah was the creator of the written language of the Cherokee nation. (Although it is often said that he invented the Cherokee alphabet, he actually invented the Cherokee syllabary, which is similar to an alphabet but a little different.) He is one of the few people in world history who every invented a written language without already knowing one himself.
Today, in Monroe County, you can find the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum.
Monroe County is also the home of Fort Loudoun State Historic Park, site of a replica of Tennessee’s only French and Indian War fortress.
The story of what took place at Fort Loudoun is incredible, tragic and unknown to most Tennesseans. The park has living history programs throughout the year, making it one of the best places to experience Tennessee’s colonial history.
The county seat of Monroe County is Madisonville, but Madisonville hasn’t always gone by that name. As you can see from this newspaper item (on the left), it was originally started under the name Tillico, but changed its name to Madisonville in 1830.
Here, on the right, is the current Monroe County Courthouse in the late afternoon sun.