Van's Valley begins two miles south of Cave Spring and it widens gradually towards the north. The crests of the bordering hills are about 300 feet above the valley between them, but the hills diminish in height from the south to the north of the valley. The valley is about 650 feet above the sea level at Cave Spring. It is about one mile wide at Cave Spring, which is situated on its eastern edge at the foot of some very high hills.
Long established as Cherokee land, the earliest settlers to take the first land grants from the state, began cutting trees and building homes in 1826, just seven years before the Indians were dispossessed of their holdings.
David Vann, a Cherokee sub-chief, had settled near Cave Spring in the valley which was given his name, and in this valley between present day Rome and Cave Spring, people began to "squat" several years before there was a Rome. Ridge Valley, seven miles north of Rome, had been settled simultaneously with the Vann's Valley settlement. Major Ridge, who is supposed to have resided there at "Rush Place" at Hermitage, a number of years before moving to the Ostanaula near Rome.- Genealogy Trails
In 1828, Major Armstead Richardson, father-in-law of Judge Augustus R. Wright of Rome, removed to Vann's Valley from Augusta and with the assistance of a number of enthusiastic associates began preparations for the establishment of Cave Spring in 1831.
Within 15 years of their arrival, the influx was so great, that most of the valley had been preempted and the majority of the farmsteads had been fenced, with homes and barns constructed. These settlers, all of English and Scotch Irish descent, came primarily from middle Georgia, the Carolina's and Virginia. All were devoted Protestants (mostly Baptists or Methodists), whose first priority was to set about building their churches and separate schools for the children.
Among these earliest settlers, were the following families:
The Baptists, soon after the establishment of their church, founded and sustained the Hearn School and the Methodists founded and sustained the Cherokee Wesleyan Institute.