Beginning in 1769, colonists from Virginia and North Carolina crossed the mountains into lands forbidden to them in the Proclamation of 1763. White settlements appeared in a number of areas, but primarily along the Watauga River, a tributary of the Tennessee. Land was leased from the indigenous Cherokee.
The transmontane population increased further in the wake of the Regulator unrest in North Carolina in the early 1770s and may have approached 10,000 a few years later.
In 1772, frontiersmen in the area joined in a loose federation, the Watauga Association, an early form of local self-government formed primarily for the purpose of marshalling a concerted effort against the Indians.
When the War for Independence erupted in 1775, the Wataugans performed admirably against the British and their native allies in the area and made a major contribution in the fighting at King's Mountain. During the war, the Watauga settlements were absorbed by North Carolina as part of Washington County.
Following the war, a number of Wataugans played prominent roles in the short-lived State of Franklin.
See Indian Wars Time Table .