Reliance Tennessee



In the late 19th Century, the arrival of the railroad and river ferry and the location of nearby logging camps helped Reliance develop into a small commercial and social center for the surrounding area. By the early 20th Century, a bridge replaced the ferry as the main form of transportation across the river.


Vaughn-Webb house

D7K_2669_70_71-1 D7K_2696_7_8-1 D7K_2727-1

The Vaughn-Webb house was built in the late 1880’s. In addition to operating a grist mill, the Vaughn family grew corn and hay, raised cattle, hogs, and mules, and cut timber.


Higdon Hotel

D7K_3397_8_9-1D7K_3370_1_2-1 D7K_3361_2_3-1



The Higdon Hotel was built by Calvin Higdon on the north side of the river after the L&N Railroad purchased right-of-way for track construction in 1888. The large two-story frame hotel with a two-story front porch provided accommodations for the railroad personnel and travelers.With the increasing use of automobiles, fewer passenger trains stopped in Reliance and the hotel ceased to operate around 1920.


Watchman’s House


The Watchman’s House was built in 1891 for use by the railroad watchman, who checked the railroad bridge for burning embers after the train passed over.


Hiwassee Union Church and Masonic Lodge


The Hiwassee Union Church and Masonic Lodge joined forces around 1899 to build a two-story frame building with a full porch across the front. The upper floor was used by the Masons, with the church meeting on the first floor. During the week, the church was used as a school for a short time.


Webb Brothers’ Store

D7K_2558-1 D7K_2560_1_2-1

Webb Brothers’ Store opened on May 15, 1936 to serve as general store, post office, gas station and library. Still in existence, it is now housed in a 1955 building and is still operating as a general store. In 1969, a whitewater rafting service was begun by the Webb family, bringing a new era of activity to the community, which still retains its historic character.

D7K_2387-1 D7K_2407-1 D7K_2611_2_3-1

Noah “Bud” Ogle Cabin


Noah “Bud” Ogle and his wife Cindy first settled in what is now Gatlinburg in 1879. On their 400 acre farm they built the cabin that still stands near downtown Gatlinburg. Located near the start of the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, the Ogle cabin gives a glimpse of what pioneer life was like in the Appalachian Mountains.



In 1977, the Ogle homestead was added to the National Register of Historic Places and it’s currently maintained by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.The Ogle cabin is what was known as a “saddlebag” cabin, which means there were two single-pen cabins that were joined by a common chimney.
The Ogle cabin also had a very unique feature for the time….running water.  A wooden plume ran from the spring near the cabin up to the back porch. Once there the water poured into a double sink, made from a large log.
The Ogle’s barn, located just above the cabin is known as a  four-pen barn. Although once common, this barn is the last remaining four-pen barn in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
D7K_0949_50_51-1 D7K_0962-1
Like the cabin, the barn’s walls are constructed of hewn logs connected by half-dovetail notches.
Ogle’s tub mill is the last of at least 13 tub mills once located along LeConte Creek.

Old Work Horses – Claiborne County

Just a happy roadside find in Claiborne County. Two old workhorses resting and waiting for the next job.


D7K_0729_30_31-1 D7K_0726_7_8-1 D7K_0723_4_5-1



Carson Rose Gulf – Tazewell Tennessee


Built in 1930 by Carson Rose, the local Gulf distributor at that time on what was then US 25E, a major North South highway of the Eastern United States. 25E started as the Dixie Highway, one of the first federal highway systems. Over the twenty-six years of operation, this station had four different operators. The station was closed in 1956, when US25E was relocated to the rear of the building and was rented as living quarters until 1968. From 1968 until 2001 the building was not maintained and suffered major deterioration with the center of the roof and ceiling falling down. In January of 2001 the Town of Tazewell became the owners of the property and immediately began the effort to save and repair the building. Over seven tons of debris was removed from the premises before the repairs could be made.

D7K_0316_7_8a-1        D7K_0381-1

W. Carson Rose was a well-known Claiborne county man, political leader, and member of the prominent Rose family in the county. He was a member of the Claiborne county school board and the county election commission. He died at his home in Tazewell at the age of 35. Mr. Rose had undergone an operation for appendicitis, and complications finally resulted in his death.


The station was featured in the film “Thunder Road,”  released in 1958 featuring Robert Mitchum. A veteran comes home from the Korean War to the mountains and takes over the family moonshining business. He has to battle big-city gangsters who are trying to take over the business and the police who are trying to put him in prison.

D7K_0412_3_4-1     D7K_0421_2_3-1

Located on Main Street in Tazewell, TN. Open weekdays.

D7K_0373_4_5-1  D7K_0392-1   D7K_0343_4_5-1


Tipton Place – Cades Cove



Revolutionary War veteran William “Fighting Billy” Tipton became the first of the Tipton clan to acquire land in the Smoky Mountains, taking advantage of Tennessee’s land grant program in the 1820s.  Colonel Hamp Tipton, a veteran of the Civil War, built the two-story cabin which still stands in Cades Cove in the early 1870s.



His daughters, Lucy and Lizzie, were schoolmarms in Cades Cove in the second half of the 1800’s.  The Smoky Mountain homestead Tipton built, eventually included a smokehouse, a woodshed, corn crib, blacksmith shop, cantilever barn, and an apiary for bees. Tipton sold land to and hence was surrounded by many of his family and friends. A few of those include Joshua Job, Jacob and Isaac Tipton, Thomas Jones.



In 1878, their house was rented to James McCaulley, who was trying to settle in the cove. McCaulley was a welcome newcommer to Cades Cove as he was a blacksmith. In time, McCaulley built his own home along with top quality blacksmith and carpentry shops. McCaulley was a trusted blacksmith, carpenter and coffin maker, working in Cades Cove for a quarter of a century.





Across the road from the Tipton house is a Cantilever barn, once a common site in the Smokies. It is a replica of the barn which was there in the 1800’s. Note the two pen design and its huge eaves. This design allowed overhang protection for outside animals and equipment, and provided complete shelter for stalled animals, and an isle between the pens large enough to accommodate a wagon.


D7K_7906-1 D7K_7896_7_8_tonemapped-1




Grainger County, Tennessee


D7K_9403-1    D7K_9433-1

This old farm house with its intricate gingerbread trim, two story porch and known as the old Judge Ellis Farm, stands guard over the farm in the Joppa community of Grainger County.


Grainger County Courthouse

D7K_9463-1    D7K_9465-1

Andrew Johnson Tailor Shop on the Courthouse lawn

D7K_9495-1     D7K_9515_6_7-1

Woody House – Cataloochee



This home began as a one-room log cabin. Jonathan Woody entered Cataloochee before the Civil War, moved out for a while, and returned around 1866. He, a widower, and his new wife, a widow, brought his children and her children. With his younger children and his new wife Mary Ann’s nine children still living at home, they made for a large family. This increased the population of Cataloochee substantially and abruptly. By 1900 or so it was necessary to enlarge the Woody cabin. The framed additions, including several bedrooms, porches, and a kitchen,were built from 1901-1910.


Rear of house


Spring house

Steve Woody became head of the household, after his father Jonathan  died in 1894. All eight kids slept upstairs in the “old soldiers’ room” and awoke each morning to the sound of their mother grinding coffee. The usual farm and household work was relieved by supplemental tasks: gathering chestnuts, robbing beehives, hunting, and trapping.



Like many Cataloochee families, the Woodys took advantage of tourism that spilled into the lovely valley. They stocked the streams on their property with rainbow trout and charged fishermen for the privilege of taking them. Sightseers and boarders slept in the house and barn and ate in the home. The extra income was welcome. The Woodys, like their neighbors, saw the times changing and changed with them. The house is a good example of that a progressive 20th-century structure with a frontier cabin heart.


Front room


One of the reasons the home remains is such good shape today is that the family remained in the house well after the park was established. Steve Woody stayed until 1942, just two years before his death.

Woody stood about six feet tall and rode a black horse, making an imposing presence. Once an apple buyer came looking for his neighbor Hiram Caldwell. Woody told him that Caldwell had sold all his apples. Woody convinced him to load up with his apples so he would not have to leave with an empty wagon.

It is said that Woody, along with Caldwell, felt the schoolhouse was too small for the community. They conspired to burn down the original Beech Grove Schoolhouse to force the County to fund an adequate school. That new school stills stands in the Cataloochee valley.

More on the Walker Sisters

The earliest documented settlers in Little Greenbrier were Arthur “Brice” McFalls and Alexander McKenzie, who arrived in the 1830’s. McFalls built a cabin in the 1840’s, which was reassembled later by John Walker, father of the Walker Sisters, as the “kitchen” half of the Walker Cabin sometime during the late 1870’s.

Little Greenbrier achieved national fame as a result of the Walker Sisters. The five spinster sisters who lived here refused to sell their 123-acre farm to the national park, and were able to maintain their traditional mountain life into the 1960’s.

John Walker, a Union Army veteran, and his wife, Margaret, moved onto the homestead in 1870. Over the years, as his family grew to eleven children, John expanded the cabin and made several improvements to the farm. At one point the homestead consisted of several outbuildings, including a barn, springhouse, pig pen, corn crib, smokehouse, apple house, blacksmith shop and a small tub mill. Today, only the cabin, springhouse and corn crib survive at the site.

In 1909 Walker deeded the land to five of his daughters; Margaret (1870-1962), Martha (1877-1951), Nancy (1880-1931), Louisa (1882-1964), and Hettie (1889-1947), and his youngest son, Giles. By this time the other children had already married and moved away. After John died in 1921, the farm was passed to the five daughters. In that same year Giles deeded his share of the land over to his sisters.

While the surrounding mountain communities began to slowly modernize after World War I, the Walker Sisters continued to cling to their old way of life, which emphasized self-reliance. The sisters raised sheep, grew corn and cotton, plowed their own fields, and made their own clothes from the wool and cotton they raised.

Change, however, would be forced upon the Walker Sisters. In the 1930’s the Great Smoky Mountains Park Commission, charged with purchasing property for the new national park, tried to persuade the sisters to sell their land. Realizing that the park was wading into a public relations minefield, GSMNP Superintendent Ross Eakin sent a memorandum to the Director of the National Park Service on Nov. 18, 1939, stating; “These old women are ‘rooted to the soil.’ We have always understood they were to be permitted to spend the rest of their lives on their property. . . . If they were ejected from the park we should be subject to severe criticism, and in my opinion, justly so.”

Finally, in late 1940, faced with a condemnation suit, the Walker Sisters accepted $4,750 for their land, provided they were “allowed to reserve a life estate and the use of the land for and during the life of the five sisters.” On January 22, 1941, ownership of the Walker Sisters’ land passed to the national park. A local legend claims the sisters were paid a visit by President Franklin Roosevelt who convinced them to sell the land. Although Roosevelt was in the area to dedicate the national park in 1940, there’s no evidence of him having visited the sisters.

In 1946 the Saturday Evening Post published an article about the Walker Sisters that drew a flood of tourists to their farm.

By 1953 only two of the sisters were alive. The following is a letter that was written by Margaret and Louisa to the superintendent of the park (Edward Hummel):

To the Supertendant of the Great Smokie Mountain National Park

Dear Sir

I have a request to you Will you please have the Sign a bout the Walker Sisters taken down the one on High Way 73 especilay the reason I am asking this there is just 2 of the sisters lives at the old House place one is 70 years of age the other is 82 years of age and we can’t receive so many visitors We are not able to do our Work and receive so many visitors, and can’t make sovioners to sell like we once did and people will be expecting us to have them, last year we had so many people it kept us buisy from Sun up till sun down besides our own work We haven’t bin feling very well this winter can’t do much at our best. I write poems to sell but cant write very well I use to write of winter but I havent bin able to do much for the 2 last ones My Brother is in the Hospital and cant stay with us much We mis his help We have a Grant Nephew and his wife with us now There was 5 of us living here when we began to receive visitors and we enjoyed meeting so many nice people from different places from every state in the union and many out side, some of them came every time they came to the park, there was more of us and we were more able to care for things, they bought things from us and made it easier to have spinding money. they buy things yet if we was abel to fix them but it is to confining on us now with no more help if we get to feeling better or get till we can receive them a gain we may want to receive them a gain but we want to rest a while it is to much work for us now. Come visit us if you have time.

Very Respectively
The Walker Sisters
Margaret and Louisa

The National Park Service assumed control of the land when the last of the Walker Sisters, Louisa, died in 1964. The National Park Service restored the cabin in 1976, and in that same year, all three surviving structures on the site were placed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Duncan’s Mill



This landmark mill was blown away in the Rye Cove tornado of 1929. It was built by John Duncan, who came into Scott Co., VA around 1835, built the mill and his home on Cove Creek in the edge of Rye Cove. The mill was a log structure and ground both wheat and corn. John Duncan operated it until his wife’s death in 1857 when he turned it over to his son-in-law George W. Johnson who ran it until his death in 1866.

Johnson had the log mill torn down and employed Pinkney Carter and George Peters, both noted millwrights, to build a new mill. Carter designed a three story mill with improved equipment for cleaning wheat. The new mill was completed about 1860, just prior to the out break of the Civil War.

This mill flew the Confederate flag and ground flour for the Confederacy all during the Civil War. Grain was hauled in from wherever available, stored and guarded by Confederate soldiers.

The flour left the mill by wagon and ox-drawn wagons for such places as the Confederate encampment at Pound Gap in Wise County on the Virginia-Kentucky line.

The mill was also a recruiting station for the Confederacy. On Saturdays rallies were held and speeches given to encourage enlistment in the Confederate Army.

In 1917 the third story of the mill was torn off and converted again into a two story building and rolling mill machinery added for grinding wheat, which was still in use when the mill was destroyed by a cyclone on May 2, 1929.

Mr. J. F. Johnson of Fort Blackmore told the following story: “I have heard my father speak of John Duncan standing in the door of the mill on April 15, 1865 when a Negro slave that once belonged to Washington Salling rode up and said, ‘Good morning, Uncle John. How is your health? Uncle John have you heard any good news lately?’ He replied; ‘Nothing except that it has been reported General Lee surrendered last Friday morning.’ The Negro leaned way back in his saddle, clapped his hands and hollowed, ‘Bless God for that!’ John Duncan jumped out the door and threw a rock at the Negro man. He was chastised for this act and he replied, ‘No Negro can shout in front of me after my people have suffered so.’ He had three grandsons shot down in one day at Gettysburg.”

John Duncan was my 4th great grandfather. Millwright Charles Pickney Carter was my 2nd great grand uncle.


Churches of Cades Cove – Missonary Baptist

Cades Cove Missionary Baptist Church

for web-1-5

John and Lucretia Oliver introduced the Baptist denomination to Cades Cove in 1825 when they organized a branch of the Miller’s Cove Baptist Church there.  The Cades Cove Baptist Church was pronounced an independent entity in 1829.  Church unity would be short-lived, however, as the 1830′ s saw a division among Baptist churches throughout East Tennessee because of what was known as the Anti-Division Split.

for web-1-3

In Cades Cove as in the rest of the Smokies, Baptists were divided into camps of members who supported missionary work, temperance societies and Sunday schools and those that didn’t. Some thought there was no Biblical support for those things. These differences led to Pastor Johnson Adams and a number of congregants being dismissed from the original Baptist church.  The group would band together to establish the Cades Cove Missionary Baptist Church on May 15, 1841.  The remaining congregation of the Cades Cove Baptist Church then changed its name to the Primitive Baptist Church.

for web-1-4

The start was rocky for the Cades Cove Missionary Baptist Church . They had no meeting house and had to meet in individual homes. Sometimes they made arrangements to meet at the Primitive Baptist or Methodist church buildings. Also, in the Smokies there was much confusion over the Civil War. During the Civil War and reconstruction, the Missionary Baptists didn’t meet for long periods of time. After the war however, they had a particularly successful revival and were able to erect their own church building in the Cades Cove area of the Smoky Mountains. Their church was constructed on Hyatt Hill in 1894, with their rolls bulging with 40 members. Eventually the rolls grew to over one hundred. In 1915, a new building was needed and was created in the present location.