The Moon-Eyed People (Murphy, NC)

If you go into the Cherokee County Historical Museum, you'll find tons of Cherokee artifacts, tools, and over 700 dolls donated by loc...



If you go into the Cherokee County Historical Museum, you'll find tons of Cherokee artifacts, tools, and over 700 dolls donated by local resident Louise Kilgore. If you venture into the museum's basement, you'll find The Moon-Eyed People, an unassuming three-foot sculpture encased in glass that look like conjoined aliens. But what exactly were The Moon-Eyed People? Some folks have told us they're aliens, while others have said they're like mole people who live underground.



We were lucky enough to run into Billy Ray Palmer at the museum that day. He taught history for 30 years at the community college, specializing in Appalachian History and Cherokee History. Here's how the Moon-Eyed People sculpture was found:
The effigy is referred to as The Moon-Eyed People. After the Native American removal in 1838, a Senator in Raleigh introduced a bill to make this the county seat. His name was Archibald Murphy. That's why we're named Murphy. At that time in 1838, they sold Murphy off in six-acre lots. A fellow by the name of Felix Ashley bought six acres. In 1841, he was digging up his property for planting and he unearthed the Moon-Eyed People effigy. He put it on a sled and drug it back up to his house and leaned it up against the well house.


So what exactly are The Moon-Eyed People?
According to the myths and legends, the Cherokee moved in to these mountains around 1100, 1200. They said there was a race of people already here. The village side was down by the Health Department where the rivers come together. The people that were here, according to the legends, were short, white, flat-faced, and blue-eyed. They were so blue-eyed, they couldn't see to work in the sunshine, so they came out in the evening to do their work. The Cherokees called them The Moon-Eyed People. Eventually, they were displaced by the Cherokees.
So where did The Moon-Eyed People come from? According to Palmer,
In 1803, when Thomas Jefferson set the policy to eventually move all Native Americans west of the Mississippi, he referred to these people as Welsh Indians. When Lewis and Clark were exploring the Louisiana Territory, they wrote in their journal that they had encountered the Welsh Indians. We believed the Welsh Indians inhabited the area from Mississippi to the southern Appalachian mountains. We know that twelve ships left Wales before Columbus and was never heard from again.


So what do you think The Moon-Eyed People are? Aliens? Molemen? Welsh people?

What To Know Before You Go

GPS Coordinates: (35.086809, -84.032981)
Location: 87 Peachtree Street, Murphy, NC

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  1. Well, I met a Cherokee Indian and he said that many Cherokee's came from Wales! He also had the bluest eyes ever. I believe this account. These moon-eyed people could have been part of the Cherokee tribe.

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