The CCPA regularly cleans churches and police the cemeteries and nearby grounds weekly. They also pick up litter and maintain the family cemeteries scattered around the Cove.
Many thanks to the CCPA volunteers!
“A people who do not honor the deeds of their worthy dead
will do nothing worthy of being honored by their descendants.” - Macalay
Russell Gregory head stone before the CCPA stabilization
CCPA Volunteers cleaning the Cemetery 2004
Missy, Richard, & Earl
Paulette & Inez "Granny"
Russell Gregory head stone after the CCPA stabilization
by the CCPA volunteers
Preserving the Heritage at the Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery
The pioneer settlers of Cades Cove, nestled within and protected by the Great Smoky Mountains, established a wilderness “foothold” in the early 1820s. These hardy families were armed with courage, tools, knowledge, weapons, optimism and, perhaps most importantly, a firm religious foundation. Once their immediate survival was assured and “neighbors showed up”, they quickly united to demonstrate their religious dependencies and beliefs. The Cades Cove Baptist Church was established around 1826 as an “arm of the Wears Cove Church”. Initially, their meetings occurred in mountain cabins but eventually the need for a church building was apparent. William Tipton donated property in 1832 which provided the site for the first “log” church building and cemetery. The current frame structure of the Primitive Baptist Church was constructed in 1887. The cemetery includes the final “homes” of many Cove pioneers and multiple descendant generations. It truly is a “heritage focus” for countless Cove descendants and visitors.
Time, traffic and the elements have “not been kind” to many historical Cove features including the remaining structures and cemeteries. The deterioration at the Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery was particularly extensive due to unspecified egress routes, erosion and malicious and unintentional desecration of grave markers. The need for immediate attention was obvious to a few “concerned descendants” and prompted the formation of the Cades Cove Preservation Association (CCPA) in January 2001. Very quickly, remediation and stabilization of the cemetery was adopted as the initial CCPA project in the Cove, leadership was identified and negotiations with staff of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) initiated.
Early CCPA actions included investigation and documentation of damage, evaluation of restoration alternatives, and formal remediation proposal to the GSMNP. Federal archaeological and historical preservation standards, intended to protect majority interests, were completely satisfied before finalization of plans. These standards influenced the selection of fill dirt, transported by volunteer effort from private property in Blount County, the specifications for stanchions and chain to designate egress, and the actual methods for conduct of work. Liabilities and responsibilities of both the CCPA and the GSMNP were negotiated.
An effective “preservation partnership” was established.
On November 1, 2001, the culmination of the planning phase and the initiation of the “real work” was proudly performed by a “small army” of CCPA members and GSMNP staff. The “sun shone brightly in the Cove” and upon the smiling faces of the CCPA family. Wheelbarrows, rakes, shovels, prying bars and “love of heritage” were the “tools of the day”! Even a scheduling snafu, which brought a multitude of Southwestern Primitive Baptist to celebrate their faith, transitioned from frustration and confusion to support and sharing. These visitors, once the CCPA mission was realized, provided verbal and unsolicited financial support and serenaded the workers with hymns of our religious foundation. A local business donated a recreation vehicle for our “facility needs”. Fantastic media support was provided from area newspapers and television. As the sun set “over the mountain”, a large portion of the cemetery remediation had been addressed. Additional work days were scheduled to complete filling and leveling of eroded paths, straightening and raising of grave markers and installation of stanchions and chains for egress designation. This project was essentially completed by March 1, 2002.
The “glow” of that November 2001 day continues with each visitation to the old cemetery at the Primitive Baptist Church. Although countless expressions of appreciation have been extended to the GSMNP and to the CCPA for this effort, no external recognition was required for the CCPA to receive reward. Somehow, the CCPA senses that the preservation of our Cove heritage was acknowledged by those who have preceded us and that they are looking “down from the mountain” with a smile on their faces and a conclusion of “a job well done”!
Ranger Steve McCoy along with Cove Descendants Larry Oliver, Mary Gregory and Bob Shields initiate restoration of the Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery on November 1, 2001
Pathways are now designated, grave markers raised and righted,and erosion abated.
Cades Cove Preservation Association volunteers have also been hard at work since the CCPA was formed in 2001. Cemeteries inside the boundaries of the Cove, which lies within Great Smoky Mountains National Park, have been remediated and maintained thanks to their efforts.
Work has been done at all three extant churches -- Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church, Methodist Church and Missionary Baptist Church -- as well as at several of the small, family cemeteries.
In October 2004, volunteers ventured outside the Cove to work on the Myers Cemetery near Townsend Visitor Center. They were aided by Townsend Police Department and visitor center staff.
``Work included filling depressions in the cemetery, raising and straightening some of the grave markers, clearing a portion of the brush and growth along the side of the cemetery, locating markers which were previously discarded and hidden by the growth along the side of the cemetery,'' said Dave Post, CCPA's vice president.
Familiar Cades Cove names appear on the tombstones in Myers Cemetery, including Carver, Cooper, Davis, Dunn, Feezell, Freshour, Headrick, Law, Lawson, Myers, Oliver, Shields, Spence and Tipton.
CCPA volunteers will return to Myers Cemetery in the spring to finish resetting tombstones and filling remaining depressions. Future plans include seeking out and reclaiming the remaining family cemeteries within Cades Cove.
Why do volunteers spend hours at back-breaking work in cemeteries such as Mt. Moriah and Myers?
The CCPA motto gives the answer: ``A people who do not honor the deeds of their worthy dead will do nothing worthy of being honored by their descendants.''
For more information about Cades Cove Preservation Association, visit the Web site at http://cadescovepreservationtn.homestead.com/welcome.html.
From the archives of George Shields, grandson of George and PollyShields. One captures Aunt Polly between the grave markers of AndrewWitt Shields and Anna Walker Shields at the Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery during observance of Decoration Day in the 1950s.The other is of Aunt Polly arranging flowers at Andrew Witt Shields' grave with Uncle George Shields, her husband and grandson of Andrew Witt Shields, to the right in khaki appearing clothing with hat and suspenders.
The Cades Cove Preservation Association (CCPA), the Townsend Visitors Center/Blount County Chamber of Commerce, and the Townsend Police Department will combine efforts on March 26, 2005 for a second workday to address the deterioration and maintenance needs of the Myers Cemetery located adjacent to the Townsend Visitors Center. This effort follows the initial efforts of October 16, 2004. Scope of work on March 26 will include additional filling of depressions in the cemetery, seeding, elevating, straightening and cleaning grave markers and elimination of brush and other debris from the periphery. The work is planned to begin at 9:00 a.m., dependent on weather conditions. Those who plan to participate are requested to bring work gloves, wheelbarrows, rakes, shovels, inspiration and encouragement. The Townsend Police Department will be providing equipment to assist in cleanup efforts also. The CCPA invites our members, Tuckaleechee Cove residents and descendants of those buried at the Myers Cemetery to join in addressing the maintenance needs of this historic cemetery.
The first Baptist Church and Cemetery in Blount County was established at this site in 1802. This Tuckaleechee Cove Baptist Church requested admission to the Tennessee Association in 1803 with 65 members. Representatives of the church included James Taylor, A Revolutionary War veteran who later served in the War of 1812, and William Davis, to become a Baptist Minister and a War of 1812 veteran also. Davis’ father, Richard Davis, was a leader of the Tuckaleechee, Millers Cove and Cades Cove Baptist Churches. The Tuckaleechee Cove Baptist Church evolved into the Wears Cove Baptist Church in 1810 but the adjacent cemetery, now known as the Myers Cemetery remained as a burying ground for many families.
John Walker Sr. is credited as the first settler into what then was Indian Territory prior to 1793 and he significantly paved the way for other families to acquire property and establish homes in Tuckaleechee Cove. Many members and descendants of Walker’s and the other pioneer families found final resting places in the Myers Cemetery. Ms. Edith Little’s work to compile information on Blount County Cemeteries indicates that John Brickey, from Westmoreland County, Virginia is the earliest burial here with his death occurring in 1807. However, many graves are unmarked and others have obscure grave markings rendering an accurate, comprehensive compilation impossible.
The interrelationship of those buried in the Myers Cemetery to the establishment and growth of the Cades Cove community is extensive and has attracted the attention of the CCPA. The Myers Cemetery is the first to receive CPPA attention external to the Park boundaries. Names of significance to the Cades Cove heritage include Carver, Cooper, Davis, Dunn, Feezell, Freshour, Headrick, Law, Lawson, Myers, Oliver, Shields, Spence, Tipton and many others. The roots of the Cades Cove and Tuckaleechee Cove communities are forever intertwined. Examples include the graves of Howell and Mary Bird Lawson, parents of Dan Lawson. Dan Lawson was an influential and wealthy Cades Cove resident immediately before and after the Civil War. Also of interest are the graves of James and Caroline Law Spence. Caroline was the daughter of Abraham Law of the beautiful White Oak Sink, located between Cades and Tuckaleechee Coves. James and Caroline lived on the high, grassy bald which became known as Spence Field overlooking the eastern end of Cades Cove. When Caroline died in 1842, legend is that James carried her in his arms for the arduous trip to the Myers Cemetery for burial.
For more information, contact David Ledbetter (865-984-4963) or Dave Post (865-984-4695) of the CCPA.