According to experts, settlement at the convergence of the Peachtree Creek and the Hiwassee River in Cherokee County dates back to the Archaic period (8000 to 1000 b.c.), with ongoing occupation continuing until historic times.
Unfortunately, an unscientific exploration of the village site and mound in 1885 resulted in the removal of significant archeological material. In 1933, however, the Smithsonian Institution conducted a more careful excavation of the site, which investigators concluded was the ancient Cherokee village of Guasili. Numerous recorders of Hernando De Soto's gold expedition to the area in 1540 mention Guasili, where they report they were graciously received and entertained. The Smithsonian team found nearly 250,000 pieces of pottery at the Peachtree Village site and discovered 68 burial sites, some enclosed in stone-lined graves.
Indians built earthen mounds that were often used as burial sites. The Peachtree Mound, according to the Smithsonian report, was a multilevel ceremonial structure. At the base, a hard-packed floor was the foundation for a wood and stone building, covered by a earthen mound about 60 feet in diameter. A sand strata separated the first mound from a larger mound which was built later and appeared to have undergone at least two major periods of construction. Evidence of superimposed floors indicated that the second mound supported three separate ceremonial structures.
From Murphy, take Highway 64 east 2 miles. An historic marker on the right side of the road tells of Hernando De Soto's stop in the area. The mound is visible from the marker.
Murphy, 2 miles
For more information:
Cherokee County Historical Museum,
205 Peachtree Street,
Murphy, NC, 28906.
Phone (828) 837-6792.