1809 to 1860
Cataloochee is located in Western North Carolina in Haywood County, west of Asheville, northeast of Waynesville and east of Maggie Valley. The county was created in 1808 so that the people living in Western North Carolina would not have to travel all the way to Asheville (Buncombe County) to conduct their business.
The County Seat was Mt. Prospect, later named Waynesville. Settlement in Western North Carolina was slow because of the threat of Indian attacks and the fact that the land was mountainous and thick with forests, under brush and wildlife. Despite this, a few saw the potential of the land and went into the forests, cleared the trees for fields, built houses, barns, and called the fruits of their hard earned labor home.
The first land entry in Cataloochee was made on January 20, 1814 when Henry Colwell claimed 100 acres on Cataloochee Creek. Fourteen years later, on June 24, 1828, the second entry was made by William Colwell for 100 acres on Cataloochee Creek. The following are the early land entries in Cataloochee:
Most of these early claims were used for a base camp for hunting or ranging livestock. Steps toward permanent residence in Cataloochee were not made until 1835 when James Colwell, his son, Levi Colwell, and Young Bennett came to Cataloochee and began clearing the land. The work was done on the the 100 acres of Henry Colwell's (the first land entry).
The fruits of their labors paid off in 1837, when Levi and Young moved their families into their new homes in Big Cataloochee.
The next residents came in 1838. They were George Palmer and his wife Polly Surrett (from Virginia). (The house that George built now houses the museum in Cataloochee.) Twenty years later, George and his family owned approximately 750 acres in Big Cataloochee.
In 1839, Evan Hannah married Elizabeth Noland and Elizabeth's father, William Noland, moved to Big Cataloochee at the lower end of the valley on the south side of Cataloochee Creek. A note of interest if that Noland Mountain is named after William.
The first settlers in Little Cataloochee were Jack Vess and Elizabeth Palmer (daughter of George). This was in 1854. The next settlers came in 1856. They were Harriett Colwell (Levi's daughter) and, her husband, Daniel J. Cook. They lived on Coggins Branch in Little Cataloochee.
Louisa Matilda, Harriett's sister, married Creighton Bennett (Young's son) and the moved next to Harriett and Daniel.
Now that Cataloochee was becoming populated, the need for a road was apparent. The present road was little more than a drover's road. Therefore, in 1825, the county authorized a toll road to be built from Cove Creek to Cataloochee. A note of interest is that the fees are only for a man and a horse (18¾¢), an extra pack horse (6½¢), hogs (1¢ each) and cattle (2¢ each) - - - evidently the road was not greatly improved from it's original trail.
1854-1856 work was begun on what was to be known as the Cataloochee Turnpike in 1856. It started behind Palmer's Chapel, went across the mountain to Ball Gap, and down to Little Cataloochee. From there the road went toward Mt. Sterling.
The first church/school building was called the Schoolhouse Patch and was built in 1858 on land donated by Julia Ann Palmer. (top)
© 2001, Cataloochee - A Valley & It's People