Macon County lies in the Southern Appalachians, in the western corner of North Carolina. It was part of the Cherokee Nation until 1819, when the Cherokees signed the Treaty of Washington, ceding their lands as far west as the Nantahala ridge.
Commissioners Jesse Franklin and James Meabin were charged with organizing the new territory. They appointed Capt. Robert Love chief of the survey party that mapped the land in late spring 1820. The first land sale took place September 20, 1820. Settlement proceeded rapidly.
The survey party ignored the rights of Cherokee citizens who held reservations under the terms of the treaty. Dispossessed of their land, the reservees eventually won settlements through the courts. Several also left their names on the landscape as an indelible reminder of their struggle to remain.
The new territory was part of Haywood County until 1828, when the population was sufficient to establish a new county, with Franklin as the county seat. County government formed in 1829. Old Macon County included most of present Macon County, about half of Jackson (est. 1851), most of Swain (est. 1871) and a small part of Transylvania (est. 1861).
In 1835, after the final Cherokee cession, the county briefly swelled to include all the lands to the west. When Cherokee County was created in 1839, Macon retained the Nantahala community.