Rebecca Ann Cable was the second child born of John P. and Elizabeth Cable in Carter County. Along with her parents and siblings, she relocated to Cades Cove in 1868 where she became revered as simply “Aunt Becky”. Aunt Becky once confided that her father moved to distance her from the “man she loved” and that, as circumstances evolved, she “didn’t have time for marriage or her own family”, remaining single her entire life. However, she was certainly never without family and always responded to the needs of her family which extended well beyond genetic relationships. Aunt Becky left a positive, lasting impression on those privileged to share her bloodlines and on others who benefited from her association.
Aunt Becky was a lady of many talents, much industry and considerable resiliency. She and a brother, Dan, bought a two story house of frame construction, including a store on the lower floor, from Leason Gregg. The house, built of lumber sawed at the Cable Mill, is considered as the first frame house built in the Cove and was located at the first ford of Mill Creek on Forge Creek Road. After Dan’s health deteriorated, Aunt Becky became accountable for the care of his family, care provided with uncompromising love. She was an accomplished miller and could independently operate the Cable Mill. An accident at the mill cost Aunt Becky a segment of her calf, visible throughout her life. Devoted to the betterment of the Cove, she donated the land and provided other considerations resulting in the Cable School being located near the Cable Cemetery to educate the children in that area.
Aunt Becky accepted all challenges, performing tasks usually reserved for men. She was frequently seen “barefoot” as she plowed the fields with mules or herded cattle to the balds and “Becky’s Sugar Cove” located a distance up Mill Creek from her home place. A neighbor and friend, JohnMcCaulley, recalled how a barefoot Aunt Becky stepped on a sleeping rattlesnake while walking to the sugar cove to check on her stock. Her reaction, “ well, you didn’t hurt me old fellow, don’t guess I’ll hurt you!” Aunt Becky was an accomplished cook who rarely refused to seat the hungry. Many former guests recall meals at her table and the fan made from torn newspapers used for fly control. Her experiences and skills included plowing the fields, planting the seed, gathering and grinding the corn, then preparing food items from her efforts. She was also familiar with and proficient in the use of flax and wool to make essential clothing items for her immediate and extended families and in the use of nature’s remedies to address illnesses and injuries.
Once, some years before her death, she became gravely ill and summoned John McCaulley to build her coffin. Payment was in the form of wool socks which she had made. Because of a solid foundation in the Missionary Baptist Church, Aunt Becky was prepared for her Cove departure. She recalled how she gazed to the opposite bank of Mill Creek and experienced a vision of Christ extending uplifted arms to her but, before contact was completed, the vision ended. Since AuntBecky recovered and lived a productive life for several years thereafter, her conclusion was that “Jesus just wasn’t ready for her yet”. Life was hard for Aunt Becky but love for her family and the Cove came easy for her. Aunt Becky remained after establishment of the GSMNP and only left upon death in 1940. She is buried in the Cable Cemetery, adjacent to the field she formerly plowed and near the site of the Cable School which she enabled. How very appropriate that as her soul soared to her final Cove of happiness and fulfillment, her body was assimilated into Cades Cove, a place synonymous with the name Aunt Becky Cable.
Miss Rebecca Cable, daughter of the late John and Elizabeth Whitehead Cable was born in Carter County, Tennessee Dec. 7th, 1844, departed this life December 19, 1940, age 96 years and 12 days.
She was a member of a family of 9 children, 4 boys and 5 girls, Sarah, Rebecca, Mary Catherine, James V., Martha Lourana, Casper, Elizabeth, Ben and Daniel L. One sister, Sarah died in Carter County when a small child. The father and mother with remaining eight children moved to Cades Cove in March 1868, and settled in the lower end of the Cove. Here they built the Cable Mill consisting of corn mill, flour mill and sawmill, a small remnant of which is still operating.
Here the family grew up and became prosperous and happy. The Cable home was one of the leading homes in the community. It was known throughout the county for its spirit of industry, hospitality, social and religious integrity. The family was very industrious hardworking, truthful and honest. Here the hungry were fed, the naked were clothed and the stranger was never turned away from their doors.
Here many religious and church meetings were held in the nearby Mountain Creek, many new converts were baptized, many sweet and precious memories of the Cable family and their kindness and this old home still linger in our hearts. In all this healthful and happy environment “Aunt Becca” was a leading figure.
She was leader in the home, in the field and in the mill. Being a woman of large stature and unusual strength, she applied herself to every task that demanded hard labor and intelligent management.
We have seen her in the field, in the kitchen, in sawmill, in grist mill, in the loom, at the spinning wheel, in the forest wielding the woodman’s ax and on a mule roaming the mountains doing the work of a herdsman. In this way she accumulated a good home and several hundred acres of real estate. All of which was taken over by the park some years ago. Having never married and having no family of her own, her whole life was devoted to helping others. Her life work in this particular stands as a great monument to her memory. Her long and useful life was above suspicion or reproach. Her honesty and veracity were far above board and her character was without blemish.
She and her father and mother coined the Missionary Baptist Church in Carter County before coming to Cades Cove. In after years she joined the Missionary Baptist Church in Cades Cove by letter and remained a faithful and loyal member until death, she was free faith in a supreme being was strong and undaunted.
Her long years of toil and pain are now ended, her work has been well done. She has been faithful and true to her God and fellow beings and God has said it is enough, come up higher thou has been faithful over a few things I will make thee ruler over many things.
She is survived by one sister, Mrs. Bettie Lequire of Maryville and a large circle of other relatives and friends. Funeral services were conducted at the Cable School house by John W. Oliver and the remains laid to rest in the Cable Cemetery nearby, beneath a blanket of flowers.
Submitted by Rod Law-Great grand nephew of Becky Cable