Cades Cove History & The People
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Although survival was uncertain for the early Cades Cove settlers, through ingenuity, extraordinary effort and unfaltering will, the community was established and prospered. Medical treatments, rudimentary but surprisingly effective, were transported into the Cove in the heads, hearts and hands of the hardy pioneers. Life was harsh and life expectancy brief. Slowly, the population increased bringing additional skills and a larger support group but also new diseases and transmission opportunities. Fortunately, the Cove arrivals included those who professed and practiced the skills of “doctoring” and were familiar with the ravages of disease and common methods of treatment. These community leaders were intermittently resident from the middle of the 19th Century until the death of the active community.

The earliest record of a Cove doctor is contained in the 1840 census which indicates Joseph Sherrill practiced the art. He also was one of the few slave holders in the Cove. Another early physician is reported to be Samuel Ghormley who moved from the Cove before the Civil War and set up a practice at Chilhowee. Another doctor, whose deeds and contributions are shrouded in mystery is Dr. Arbelia whose residence was in the southwestern area of the Cove.

Dr. Calvin Post moved into the Cove in 1847, living first at Eldorado near the headwaters of Hesse Creek and later on Forge Creek at Laurel Springs. Although focused on his interests in development of mountain mineral resources, he provided his knowledge of medicine, brought from his home in the northeast, to the needs of his neighbors. Unfortunately, his skills could not prevent the deaths of many, including two of his daughters. Dr. Post left the Cove in 1873.

Dr. McGill “hung his shingle” in the Cove in 1904. In the absence of their own doctor, the Cove people relied on doctors from Tuckaleechee Cove. A Maryville newspaper proudly proclaimed that due to Dr. McGill’s arrival, Cades Cove is to have a physician of her own in a few days. This is not a bad thing as we have been forced to do without the luxury of being sick or wait a day or two after phoning for a doctor since the phone is to Townsend.

A native son of the Cove, Granville Dexter Lequire, elected a career in medicine. He obtained his degree in 1909 from the Tennessee Medical College. Dr. Lequire provided brief doctor services in the Cove in 1906 using a temporary license. His service was terminated by a severe case of dysentery.

Dr. James Marian Saults was a man of many professions. Initially, he provided inspiration for the Missionary Baptists, commuting from Tuckaleechee Cove to preach at the Hyatt Hill Church. In the late 19th Century, he set up his son in the mercantile business, buying land from the Cables and building a store building and home near the Cable Mill. He later moved into the Cove, on property acquired from Jules Gregg, where he served as a “pill doctor”. Doctor Saults died in 1914 of a heart attack, suffered while delivering a child of John W. Oliver.

Cades Cove enjoyed a surprisingly high number of medical practitioners in residency over the life of the community. Although the extent of formal medical training for some may have been minimal, each doctor provided their intelligence, concern and hands to the fevers and injured limbs of their neighbors. Undoubtedly, many times their efforts were in vain but they were always appreciated and rewarded with respect in the community.
Midwives of Cades Cove

Of Midwifery: This Art has been in such esteem among the Antients, that it was (in all Ages) the Study of the most Learned Physicians; tho’ its Practice succeeded best only, first in France, then in Italy, and afterwards in Germany. For in these Country's their Women of all Ranks (the most Precise and Virtuous) have accustom’d themselves to lay aside all childish Bashfulness and imaginary Modesty, in order to secure their Own and their Children's Safety, by inviting the Assistance of both Sexes. (London 1724)

The growth of the Cades Cove community was dependent upon new arrivals from remote places and from resident births. The early births in the pioneer families were anticipated with happiness but also with apprehension due to the harsh, isolated conditions and the absence of medically trained neighbors to assure the health and survival of child and mother. Initially, doctors were nonexistent requiring the women to independently do “the best they could” using their natural instincts and the knowledge which they transported into the Cove. The father would assist as best possible with much less instinct and intelligence in such matters. Too many children and mothers did not survive the birthing process.

Eventually, both out of necessity and training, midwives, the Angels of the Cove, appeared to assist in the birthing process, to support the early days of the child and to assure the recovery of the mother. They became affectionately called “granny women”. As many babies were born to midwives as were delivered by doctors. Many mothers actually preferred the kind and knowledgeable hands of the midwife. These were neighbors’ hands which shared common experiences. They carried the Bible, hoed the corn, washed the clothes, kindled the stove, wove the cloth and caressed the fevered brow. They cared about the Cove and the people who were the Cove. They typically had experienced the pain, joy, and sometimes agony of childbirth. They were experienced in the process and appreciated the value and beauty of new life to the family and the community. It’s no wonder that the women displayed confidence in the Cove “granny women”.
Old Timers Day Display Spring 2003  Listing of names go to CC Genealogy     
An Iron Will
Iron: “a ductile malleable, silver-white metallic element, scarcely known in a pure condition, but abundantly used in its crude or impure forms containing carbon for making tools, implements, machinery, etc.; something hard, strong, unyielding, or the like; resembling iron in color, firmness, etc.”(1)

The hardy pioneers who settled Cades Cove held steadfast in their hopes for better lives in spite of the hazards and deprivations confronting them. They exhibited “an iron will” in their determination to carve a future from the wilderness. Indeed, their very survival was strongly dependent on iron. Weaponry in the forms of guns and knives, fashioned from iron, was essential for defense and for food. Iron implements were necessary for clearing the forests, building homes and raising crops. These implements included axes, hoes, adz, hammers, chisels, plow points and miscellaneous other tools. Cooking vessels were essential. The initial survival of our ancestors was dependent on iron and iron implements carried over the mountains into the Cove. At this point, the expression “worth it’s weight in gold” was probably displaced by “worth it’s weight in iron” as the pioneers struggled to transport the iron articles for later use.

Although strong, iron does not last forever, being susceptible to the forces of nature, use, loss and theft. The replacement of iron implements and weapons with a local source of useable iron was probably an initial concern of the pioneers, after immediate survival was assured. The art, science and knowledge of iron making came over the mountains with the pioneers. The iron industry was among the early industries appearing in the Cove, almost simultaneously with grist mills for food processing and carpentry for homes, furniture and unfortunately, coffins. Sufficient documentation exists to establish interest in “iron works” as early as 1821 by William and Thomas Tipton (2). Robert Shields purchased Tipton property in 1831 which included a forge. This property was operated in partnership with Daniel Davis Foute(3), then later by Foute alone until closure in 1847(4). The “coalen ground”, a source of wood used for charcoal fuel can be visited to the west of Forge Creek in the southwestern area of the Cove. Iron making in the Cove ended due to the inferior quality of iron deposits and the expense of charcoal as a fuel (4). The availability of other sources of iron and iron articles was also a factor. However, the Cove iron industry did successfully meet the needs of the hardy pioneers. Obviously, their “iron will” was matched by their “will for iron”.

References:1. “The American College Dictionary”, C.L. Barnhart,Ed., Random House, New York, 1959.
2. “ Blount County Court, March Session, 1821”, copy in records of  Dr. Calvin Post.
3. A. Randolph Shields, “The Cades Cove Story”, Great Smoky Mountains Natural
                       History Association, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, 1977.
4. Durwood Dunn, “Cades Cove, The Life and Death of A Southern Appalachian
                       Community, 1818-1937”, The University of Tennessee Press, 1988.
  © 1-2005 ~09 Gloria Motter, All Rights Reserved For The CCPA
                     CADES COVE FOOD  

The families of Cades Cove had to provide almost all of the food to support themselves and their livestock. The whole family was involved in either the spring planting or the days of harvest. During the winter months they depended on stored, dried and canned vegetables and fruits. Meat consisted of cured hams or animals “harvested” from the Smokies. Because of inadequate preservation methods, beef was not a major meat source.
Each spring families made an outing of going to the ramp patch. They would pack a lunch and each person would take something to dig with and a flour sack. Their sacks were filled with the aromatic plants. Ramps could be eaten raw, killed with hot grease, put in a salad, cooked and creamed, or chopped and mixed with corn meal for a delightful “corn dodger”.
Garden vegetables became the first harvest of the season. The vegetables were usually served the day of picking because, at this time, there was not enough to “put up”. Berry picking became a daily chore in the midsummer. Women and children did most of the blackberry picking. Jellies and jams were made as well as wonderful cobblers. After blackberries were gone, blueberries began to ripen.
Wheat was the first main crop to be harvested. The wheat had to be threshed. After threshing, the straw was used to replenish mattresses. Field beans and peas were the next to come in. Potatoes were dug and stored in a pit at the corner of the garden. Harvesting of corn usually began after frost killed the plants. It would begin by topping and “fodder pulling”, which meant that the stalk was cut just above the ear with the tops stacked on end and tied into a bundle. Tops and fodder were used as feed for cattle and horses. Gathering chestnuts was also part of the harvesting. Chestnuts were used to “fatten hogs” and taken to nearby markets in exchange for materials to buy material and shoes for the family. Apples were another important crop. Many farmers hauled wagons of apples to Maryville and Knoxville for sale.
Corn was the most important crop to the people of Cades Cove. Morning, noon and night families ate corn products prepared by boiling, baking, frying or drying. A highly marketable and transportable liquid corn product, moonshine, was provided for selected residents and regional markets. Wheat, oats and rye were other grains grown in Cades Cove but corn was the lifeblood of the community.
With grain crops so important to these people, mills were a necessity. Family tub mills, which could be operated on small tributaries, appeared initially. Overshot community grist mills, such as that established by John P. Cable, surfaced later. Mills were an essential element of the community. Corn was taken to the mills to be ground into meal along with the lesser important grains grown. The mills were locations for sharing of Cades Cove information as well while customers were “waiting their turn”.

by CCPA Publication Recipes, Remedies & Rumors