The History Of Cocke County

This area is rich in history having been originally settled by the Cherokee Indians in the early 1700s, and later by the Scottish, Irish and Germans. Much of today’s music (gospel and bluegrass), dances (clogging), storytelling, and musical instruments (dulcimers), have all been influenced by these ancestors.

The area was known as the State of Franklin at one time, and, later, became a part of North Carolina. Cocke County was created in 1797, as it was split from Jefferson County. It was named in honor of William Cocke (1748-1828), who had been a soldier in both the War of 1812 and the Revolutionary War. He was a member of the legislatures of Virginia, North Carolina, State of Franklin, Territory South of the Ohio River, Tennessee and was a Mississippi Chickasaw Indian Agent.

Geographically, Cocke County lies against the mountain range that forms the western boundary of North Carolina and hosts the Cherokee National Forest, the Martha Sundquist State Forest, and the eastern entrance to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Six miles of the Appalachian Trail traverses Cocke County. Jefferson and Hamblen Counties (birthplace of Davy Crocket) lie to the north, and Greene County (home of former President Andrew Johnson) lies to the east.

Cocke County was very much divided in the Civil War as brother fought against brother, neighbor against neighbor. Communication was so slow in the area at that time that the fighting continued for several months after the truce had been signed on April 9, 1865.

A famous novel, Christy, written by Catherine Marshall, and based on the true story of her mother, Leonora Whitaker Wood, took place in the community of Cocke County, TN, now known as Del Rio. As a young woman, Leonora (Christy) left her home in Asheville, NC, to teach at a Presbyterian Mission School in Del Rio.

Today Cocke County has grown into a prosperous business community of manufacturers and retailers. We are proud of our education system (all county schools have passed accreditation standards) and our local government. Most importantly, we feel that Cocke County citizens possess a strong integrity and do a good job of balancing business progress with a down-home attitude, fashioned by the historical legacy of the area. We welcome new ideas, new people and new concepts, but also maintain a powerful connection to old-fashioned values.

Cocke County has much to offer local residents and tourists – river rafting, many parks, hiking, biking, horseback-riding, and miles upon miles of natural untouched beauty. Tourism has become a big part of the local economy, but you will also find dairy farms, beef farms, farms raising crops of tobacco, corn and other vegetables, and farms raising horses, goats, and chickens.