Murphy is a town in and the county seat of Cherokee County, North Carolina, United States. It is situated at the confluence of the Hiwassee and Valley Rivers. It is the westernmost county seat in the state of North Carolina, approximately from the state capital in Raleigh. The population was 1,568 at the 2000 census.
The site of Murphy, along the Hiwassee River, was known to the Cherokee as Tlanusi-yi (the Leech Place), because of a legend about a giant leech named Tlanusi that lived in the river there.
The town was first called by the name of Huntington in 1835 when the first post office, operated by Col. H.R.S. Hunter was established.
In 1836, during the Cherokee removal known as the Trail of Tears, the United States army built Fort Butler in what is today Murphy. Fort Butler acted as the main collection point for Cherokee east of the mountains. From Fort Butler the Cherokee were taken over the mountains on the Unicoi Turnpike to the main internment camps at Fort Cass (today Charleston, Tennessee). Today the Unicoi Turnpike is known as Joe Brown Highway. The Cherokee County Historical Museum located in Murphy provides information about the Trail of Tears.
Cherokee County was formed in 1839 from a portion of Macon County but Murphy wasn't incorporated as the county seat until 1851.
Murphy was once the terminus of the Murphy Branch rail line built in the late 19th century, although the branch now ends in Andrews since 1985. Murphy was the home of the once well-known crafts manufacturer Margaret Studios, which operated a nationwide chain of gift stores for its woodcraft products and housewares, such as lazy susans and gift trays.
Folklorist John Jacob Niles based his well known Christmas song I Wonder As I Wander on a phrase he heard in a song sung by the young daughter of a group of traveling evangelicals in downtown Murphy on July 16, 1933.