This photograph, made by Sara Gregory, captures CCPA members decorating graves at the Cades Cove Methodist Church Cemetery in preparation for Decoration Day 2004.
Missionary Baptist Church 2003
This photograph is of the Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery as decorated for Decoration Day 2003. The CCPA also worked on this day to install pathway barriers and apply fill dirt in the cemetery.
Primitive Group 2004
This photograph, made by Sara Gregory, captures CCPA members who decorated graves at the Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery in preparation for Decoration Day in 2004. They include four CCPA members who were born while living in Cades Cove, Inez McCauley Adams, Lois Shuler Caughron, Ruth Caughron Davis and Leon Sparks.
Ruth & Lois June 2002
This photograph, made by Sara Gregory, captures Lois Caughron and daughter Ruth decorating a grave at the Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery in 2002 in preparation for Decoration Day.
These photographs capture those who led our 2004 Decoration Day service at the Cades Cove Missionary Baptist Church. David Oliver, descendant of John and Lurany Frazier Oliver, delivered the message/sermon. Gene Lequire, born in Cades Cove, assisted by his wife Jo, led the congregation in singing and provided the Special Music.
DECORATION DAY SERVICE MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH JUNE 6, 2004
Welcome Dave Post
Invocation Roy Coada
Brethern, We Have Met To Worship* Gene Lequire
The Old Country Church* Gene Lequire
Prayer David Oliver
Precious Memories* Gene Lequire
Message: Lasting Memorial David Oliver
Where The Roses Never Fade Jo & Gene Lequire
We Shall Meet Some Day* Gene Lequire
Benediction Paulette Ledbetter
The Cades Cove Preservation Association, established to preserve the heritage of Cades Cove, is privileged to honor our heritage through participation in the 2004 Decoration Day Service at the
Cades Cove Missionary Baptist Church. May we always acknowledge the contributions of those who have enabled our existence.
Decoration Day In Cades Cove
When our lives on earth are completed, our remains are treated and “laid to rest” in methods which are individually specified or as those which may be established by family and friends. Cultural and religious practices often influence those methods. The alternatives of today are certainly more numerous than those practiced by our ancestral roots but one thing remains consistent, independent of the method implemented, memories remain with those “left behind”.
Our Cades Cove heritage generally respected their departed family members, loved ones and friends, selecting internment sites influenced by church affiliation, family associations or as dictated by geographical and seasonal circumstances. At least fourteen recognized burial grounds are contained within the Cades Cove community, with many individual grave sites distributed throughout the hills and hollars. Early pioneers were often buried at or near their home place or where death occurred otherwise. Life was harsh in this early, primitive, isolated community and many of the early and later burials included those of babies and youth, victims of childhood diseases, epidemics and the limitations of available medical care. Family burial plots developed within the “settlements” and later community burial grounds at the organized churches. Death was often communicated to the Cades Cove community through the tolling of the church bell, each mournful toll signifying one year of life. Cove residents could generally identify the deceased through this method and would respond appropriately to assist the grieving family in preparation of the body for burial, to build the coffin, to assure appropriate dress, to provide food or essential farm labor, and to “sit with the dead”. Oftentimes, dependent on the season of death, paper flowers were lovingly made to decorate the burial plot. These were “neighbors” in the truest sense.
Memories did not stop with death. Year after year, family and friends would celebrate and recognize the contributions provided by and affection felt for departed loved ones by placing fabricated or picked flowers on individual burial plots. Decoration Day in Cades Cove, and in other communities, was established as a specific date on which the respect and love for departed individuals was displayed through grave decorations. Memorial services at church buildings were conducted as well as “eating on the grounds”. This was a day of community respect, celebration and “remembering”. The tradition continues today in Cades Cove as well as in other active Southern Appalachian communities whose cultural roots placed value on the significance of Decoration Day.
There is no more appropriate time than Decoration Day for the CCPA to recognize and honor the contributions of our Cades Cove heritage. Since formation of the organization in 2001, the CCPA has planned, procured flowers and assembled in Cades Cove to decorate ancestral graves. Our objective is to assure that all graves in Cades Cove are appropriately recognized on this special day. Admittedly, we fail to completely satisfy this objective, particularly for those few isolated burial spots beyond the confines of the Cades Cove settlements. Many of the grave sites in the Cove continue to be recognized by family members, in addition to those receiving attention of the CCPA. We respect and applaud the values of those families and individuals who continue to observe this very special day. Our efforts are intended to supplement those and to compensate for others who are unable to respond for a variety of circumstances.
The CCPA sponsored a Decoration Day service at the Cades Cove Missionary Baptist Church in 2004. Descendants of the Lequire and Oliver families provided the leadership on that special day. Many ancestral roots were represented by others who participated. Other individuals and groups provide annual services in the Cades Cove churches. Decoration Day in Cades Cove is a special time when tradition and values have not been displaced or muted by “modern” priorities and practices. May it continue until the end of time!
Flowers for Mama
Mama, I miss you. You always made life easier for me in Cades Cove. I know now that, since I’ve raised my own family, how much work, sacrifice and love you have given me since I was born in that little cabin nestled up against the foot of the mountain. I’ve got it a lot easier than you for providing my family’s basic needs. I don’t have to make clothes from plants we grow or from the wool of sheep. I don’t have to sweep the dirt floor of a cabin or cook over an open fire. I don’t have to diagnose sickness and search for the right herbs for a possible cure which sometimes couldn’t be found. I don’t have to worry about wild animals who threaten our livestock and little ones. But I do retain a very valuable legacy from you. That is a deep and everlasting respect, admiration and love for you for what you have given to me. I know I got this from you because I saw how you always honored and preserved the memories of your Pa and Ma and all those friends and relatives who passed on before you.
I guess flowers have always been a common element for displaying respect and love for our ancestors. Maybe this has happened because both wildflowers and “yard” flowers always seemed to bring a little cheer into the hard lives of our pioneer heritage. My favorite time of the year was always spring when the bright yellow of the buttercups began popping out all over the Cove. Then there were the iris, roses, hollyhocks and all those other varieties that seemed to brighten your days. Flowers were also important on those bittersweet occasions of the passing of those we loved most. When I lost you, I cried tears of sadness for my loss, but tears of happiness for the departure of your suffering and the knowledge that you were “home” at last.
I have watched you many times sit up all night making those pretty paper flowers so real you could almost smell the fragrances. The paraffin dip gave them a longer life. You made flowers for the funerals of both family and neighbors as symbols of our respect and love. We didn’t have telephones, florists and FTD. Oftentimes, death visited in the harshness of winter when the live flowers were still sleeping. You “made do” with love and talent, with knowledge passed down generation to generation.
That’s why I’m making these flowers for you Mama. I haven’t missed a decoration day in the Cove yet since your body, but not your memory left. I could go buy some flowers but, somehow, I feel I can give you back some of the love and sacrifice you gave me as I struggle to duplicate all those pretty flowers you made for so many over your lifetime in the Cove.