The recent discovery here of the oldest pottery shards found in the southeastern U.S., attests to the fact that the Hohenwald area has been attracting people for millennia. The Natchez Trace, which runs though the eastern portion of the county is one of the four oldest trails in North America. Many early Americans traveled on the Trace, including Andrew Jackson who stayed at the McClish Indian reservation here and whose troops from the Battle of New Orleans were discharged here.
The most notable early American to travel the Trace may have been Meriwether Lewis, Captain of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, who died here under circumstances that read like a great murder mystery. The monument over his grave became one of the first National Monuments in the South. The county at first was at the edge of American civilization, and formed a boundary with the Choctaw Nation. Soon several waves of German immigrants moved into the area. One such group created Hohenwald, which in German means “High Forest.”
By the 1890’s, the NC&St. L. Railroad had moved into the area and worked with Swiss immigrants to create a completely new town called “New Switzerland.” New Switzerland at first was more European than southern. The immigrants formed their own orchestra, held masked balls and plays and introduced waltzes to the area. The two towns soon merged as Hohenwald, and an embroidery industry that made fine lace moved in.
The railroad and local mining operations brought notable figures such as Thomas Edison and William Wrigley to town. Students were gathered in front of the school building to watch Charles Lindberg fly a new machine called an airplane over the town. During World War II, German Prisoners of War from Rommel’s Africa Corps worked at the Hohenwald Depot and on area farms.
Take time to explore Hohenwald’s history and you will find that over the years this small county has attracted a diverse group of people who have reflected the history of the country itself.