Churches of Cades Cove – Primitive Baptist

   Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church

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In Cades Cove and the surrounding Smokies area, it took faith to settle the American frontier so religion was a big part of life for the settlers. Up until the founding of the Baptist Church, the Cades Cove members had to travel through the Smoky Mountains to attended Sunday meeting in Millers and Wears Coves. They also went to campground revivals inTuckaleechee Cove, present day Townsend.

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John and Lucretia Oliver introduced the Baptist denomination to Cades Cove. The Cades Cove Baptist church was established in 1827. In time a schism developed over biblical interpretation. One side said the scripture allowed for missionary work and others in the congregation said it did not. This problem was not isolated to the Baptists in the Smokies but was widespread elsewhere as well. As for the Cades Cove Baptists, they decided to rename their church in order to distinguish it from Baptists with other beliefs. Their church became known as the Primitive Baptist Church in 1841.

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The Primitive Baptists remained the dominant religious and political force in Cades Cove following the split.  The church staunchly backed the Union in the Civil War, which led to divisions tense enough within the cove that it was actually closed during the war.  The congregation met in a log structure for sixty years until 1887, when the white frame church building which can be viewed today was constructed.  The Primitive Baptist Church resisted closure until the 1960’s, more than 20 years after the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

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