"Cades Cove is the dream of the Smoky Mountains." This statement was made by the Reverend Isaac P. Martin after his first visit to the Cove. He describes the Cove as one "which nestles there among the crests of the great mountains." He goes on to say, “I had never seen anything quite so beautiful.” (Wise 151). Apart from the views expressed so clearly by Isaac Martin, Cades Cove is also considered by many others to be one of the most attractive locations within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Apart from this positive aspect of the Cove area, this has not always been the reaction that neither early explorers nor settlers have had. The Smokies were once a rugged and threatening place abundant in wildlife including bears, mountain lions, and snakes (O’Dell 1). These seemingly harsh living conditions became a part of the lives of the Cherokee Indians that used the Cove as a summer hunting ground. They called the Cove Tsiyahi, which could be translated to mean the place of the river otter (culhist 1). Part of this territory was once owned by a famous warrior chief named Old Abram. The present name for the territory, Cades Cove, originated from one of his successors, Chief Kade (Wise 180).
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The Cherokee’s inhabitance of Cades Cove discouraged many white people attempting to settle this land. The Americans would hardly give up the settling of such an interesting environment so easily, however (culhist.htm 1). By the 1830’s the Cherokees had adapted themselves to the culture of the whites. This adaptation even involved developing a written language and using the white man’s agriculture and architecture (mnt-people 1). Apart from the attempts by the Cherokee at making peace with the Americans, they were eventually forced to leave their home in the Cove and move. This removal of the Cherokee is what later became known as the Trail of Tears, where over 14,000 of them left the Southern Appalachians in 1838 (culhist 1). The Trail of Tears portrays the Indians of the Cove as victims just as Limerick portrayed most of her subjects in the essay she wrote. In the history of the Cove, however, it’s seen that the Indians may have been the first, but were not the only victims attacked by early hardships.
This removal of the Cherokees took away the fear that was limiting the settlement of Cades Cove. Settlers no longer had to deal with the threatening harassment brought on by the Indians (culhist 1). The Cades Cove area, however, was not legally open to white settlement until the Treaty of Calhoun in 1819, but this did not discourage the white people from overcoming the obstacle that the Indians presented (Wise 7). One of the earliest white inhabitants of the Cove wrote in his memoirs a description of the life and times in Cades Cove. His stories portray the settling of the Cove as seen through the eyes of most white settlers during that time. As Dr. Abraham Job writes, “In 1821, when I was about four years old, he [father] bought 640 acres of fine land in Cades Cove Tennessee, and moved to it… My father and relatives from Carter County were among the first settlers in this part of Blount County.” Game of all sorts was quite substantial, probably one of the few advantages to the people of the Cove. Education facilities were not in very good condition and, as Job explains, “of the most primitive order.” Fruit was not very easily obtained, and Job and his family often felt as though they were “hemmed in by the mountains,” and they literally were. These displeasing qualities caused a migration of several dissatisfied settlers starting in the early 1830’s and continuing into the 1840’s. (CADECOVE 5).
The whites that remained continued in their primitive lifestyle. They lived off of the land as they hunted the animals and took advantage of their abundance of forestry by utilizing the timber for building. These early settlers also grew their food and pastured their animals in the clearings made by wood cutting. Aside from farming, people also attended the churches they had built, and they organized their communities according to the typical rural fashion (mtn-people 1). The Cades Cove community had begun to advance just as other nearby civilizations had done.
Due to the agricultural advancement of the inhabitants of the Cove, the arrival of lumbering was a predictable change in the settlers’ way of life. This change took place during the early 1900’s, and within twenty years, the self-sufficient economy that the people had established was almost entirely replaced by store-bought food and cash. Along with these drastic approaches to the civilization of the Cove, loggers had begun to rapidly deminish the precious forests of these mountains (mnt-people 1). Within a period of approximately 30 years, already 67 percent of the area was clear-cut (culhist 2). This tragic event called for drastic measures, and in 1934 the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established. Only about 20 percent of the forest remained uncut, but at least that much of it could be saved (mtn-people 1). Even though the development of the park preserved the remaining forests, the people living there could no longer be an existing part of the Cove. Reluctant as they were to leave the homes that had survived throughout the history of several generations, the families were forced out of this territory, which was now owned by the government. Several families, however, were allowed to remain in the park under certain restrictions (CADECOVE 5). To this day, there is still one family that remains in the Cove (culhist 2).
The beauty and pure enjoyment of Cades Cove can be accessed by visitors through several methods. One of the most popular methods is through hiking experiences. Throughout the Cove, many hiking trails exist from which the Cove is actually the starting point. Smaller nature trails can also be found at various points. These many trails owe their existence to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp, which was located in the Cove during the depression years of the 1930’s. Part of the road that presently runs into Cades Cove consists of several abandoned roads left from fire control roads that were constructed during that period (CADECOVE 6).
As I began the task of deciding on a subject for my paper on the history of Tennessee, several options ran through my mind. The subject that I decided on, the history of Cades Cove, was chosen for several reasons. The main reason I chose this topic was because it is something that interests me. It is also something that I, personally, can relate to. Having lived only twenty minutes from the Cove my whole life, I have visited the area more times than I could possibly remember. As much as my personal experiences could have contributed to the construction of this paper, though, it was necessary to locate other sources of information on the Cove’s history.
At first I did have some trouble finding an adequate primary source, but eventually I was able to find some. After locating my sources and choosing between them, I highlighted and took notes from the parts that I felt were best suited for inclusion in my paper. Then I sorted through my themes and decided on the one that summed the Cove’s history up most efficiently. It was an easy task to relate the Cove’s history to Limerick’s essay. There was actually more than one victim that could be identified in my paper, and that is why I used victimization as my main theme. From the information and personal experiences that I found from my research, I learned some things about the area that I had not previously known and that I found interesting. I am glad that I chose this subject as my topic because I now view the Cades Cove area a little differently, and probably with a little more appreciation and admiration.
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