Chestnut Flats
Cades Cove Preservation Association
Spring 2005
CHESTNUT FLATS

The prevalence of the mighty American chestnut trees probably influenced the place name Chestnut Flats, an area referenced as early as the 1830s, located in the southwestern periphery of Cades Cove. Russell Gregory and Robert Shields, pioneers of Cades Cove, are thought to be among the earliest residents. Both eventually relocated to other Cove home places. Gregory supervised construction of the Parsons Branch Road, through Chestnut Flats, in the late 1830s.

The area was sparsely populated until after the Civil War when Wilson “Wiles” Burchfield located there with several family members, including son “Long Hair Sam”, buying land from George W. Shields in 1873 and in 1880. Burchfield sold a portion of this property to George Washington Powell, a Civil War veteran and former Cades Cove Justice of the Peace. Powell also bought land from the heirs of Dr. Calvin Post in 1878. Powell later joined the Burchfield family by marrying Ann Burchfield in 1884. The Powells and Burchfields dominated the Chestnut Flats community both in terms of population and industry. Powell established a church, later reconstructed as his apple house, and operated a distillery, both legally and illegally, where fine brandies were reportedly produced. Tub mills and moonshine stills competed for branch space. Mills and stills were appreciated through out the Cove for basic sustenance and medicinal needs respectively.

Two schools served the community, the Flint Hill School and later the Laurel Springs School. The Flint Hill School included a separate storehouse where blankets and other provisions were maintained for students trapped by winter snows. When no longer needed due to a decreasing student population, the Laurel Springs School was dismantled and used as the basis for the Cable School.

The Burchfield Cemetery was established a short distance from Sams Gap where several family members, including Wilse Burchfield, are buried. Lydia Burchfield, Wilse’s Great Granddaughter, in later years, personally directed the placement of permanent grave markers. Although Chestnut Flats is perceived by some as embracing a unique culture and standards, the area’s contribution to the Cades Cove story is intriguing and significant.


Cades Cove Preservation Association Spring 2005

Page ©  2005~07 by Gloria Motter
Book~Cades Cove and Chestnut Flats~Web Site
THE ROWAN, POWELL, AND BURCHFIELD CONNECTION By Edward L. Myers
Myers, Powell, Burchfield families to name a few. This book has many photos and stories of some of the families that resided in Cades cove.(Soft bound) $28.00
Send Check or Money to:
Edward L. Myers 
1309 Berry Road Knoxville, TN 37920

Other Books About Cades Cove
Book~Cades Cove and Chestnut Flats
This page in memory of Eddie 1953-2007
News Sentinel 9-29-2007