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Cades Cove

Life Death Southern Appalachian Community

Durwood Dunn

Publication Year: 1988

Cades Cove
The Life and Death of a Southern Appalachian Community, 1818-1937
Durwood Dunn
Winner of the Thomas Wolfe Literary Award!

Drawing on a rich trove of documents never before available to scholars, the author sketches the early pioneers, their daily lives, their beliefs, and their struggles to survive and prosper in this isolated mountain community, now within the confines of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
In moving detail this book brings to life an isolated mountain community, its struggle to survive, and the tragedy of its demise.

"Professor Dunn provides us with a model historical investigation of a southern mountain community.  His findings on commercial farming, family, religion, and politics will challenge many standard interpretations of the Appalachian past."
--Gordon B. McKinney, Western Carolina University.  

 "This is a fine book. . . . It is mostly about community and interrelationships, and thus it refutes much of the literature that presents Southern Mountaineers as individualistic, irreligious, violent, and unlawful."
—Loyal Jones, Appalachian Heritage.  

"Dunn . . . has written one of the best books ever produced about the Southern mountains."
—Virginia Quarterly Review.  

"This study offers the first detailed analysis of a remote southern Appalachian community in the nineteenth century.  It should lay to rest older images of the region as isolated and static, but it raises new questions about the nature of that premodern community."
—Ronald D Eller, American Historical Review

Not only is his book a worthy addition to the growing body of work recognizing the complexities of southern mountain society; it is also a lively testament to the value of local history and the variety of levels at which it can provide significant enlightenment."
—John C. Inscoe,LOCUS

Published by: The University of Tennessee Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. xiii-xvii

Although the mountain people and culture of Southern Appalachia were not identified or seriously examined as a separate entity from mainstream America until the 1880s, in the intervening years they have become the subject of both enduring stereotypes...

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1. Settlement and Early History

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pp. 1-22

In the winter of 1818-1819, Lucretia Oliver fervently wished she had never heard of this place called Cades Cove. From the moment of their arrival in the fall of 1818, everything had gone wrong. Joshua Jobe, their neighbor from Carter County...

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2. The Impact of the Wilderness

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pp. 23-62

Recalling his appointment to the Maryville circuit sixty-four years earlier, Isaac P. Martin, a Methodist minister in the Holston Conference for over half a century, gave the following account of his first visit to Cades Cove in 1890...

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3. The Market Economy

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pp. 63-98

Geography was an important, but not a determining factor, in shaping the communal response of the cove people to their wilderness environment. In the development of a market economy, however, the effect of physiography on the trade routes of East Tennessee was the single most important factor...

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4. Religion and the Churches

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pp. 99-122

The dominant role of religion in the life of the average citizen of Cades Cove during the nineteenth century is evident from the large number of surviving documents and records relating to church activities. These records reveal an active and often absorbing inquiry throughout the century into religious questions...

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5. The Civil War

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pp. 123-142

The Civil War was a major watershed in the cove's history, if judged solely from the enormous economic devastation apparent in the postwar agricultural census returns. Such statistical comparisons of the cove before and after the conflict, however, reveal a static and very incomplete picture of the four years that sharply changed the character of the cove people and their community...

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6. The Folk Culture

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pp. 143-178

Brooding over the moral and physical devastation resulting from the Civil War, fearful and suspicious of strangers, and engulfed in a protracted regional depression after 1865, the people of Cades Cove became increasingly introspective and retrospective during the Reconstruction Era. They had always been isolated from the outside...

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7. Family Life and Social Customs

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pp. 179-200

If the folk culture of Cades Cove had functioned as only the collective consciousness of the community, there would have been little direct interference in the daily lives and social behavior of individuals. Yet the cove people's intimate knowledge of each other was never passive; implicit in such knowledge...

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8. Government, Law, and Politics

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pp. 201-220

Nothing else in their lives connected the people of Cades Cove to the outside world so completely and inextricably as their civil government, frequent recourse to the law to settle disputes, and not least of all, their avid participation in politics. Quite contrary to Horace Kephart's dictum that Southern Appalachian courts...

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9. Progressivism and Prohibition

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pp. 221-240

In September 1899 John Walter Oliver, a great-grandson of the first John Oliver who settled in Cades Cove, packed all his clothes in a bundle and hiked over thirty miles out of the mountains to attend Maryville College. His journey was in a certain sense an act of faith. Only twenty at the time, and with practically...

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10. Death by Eminent Domain

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pp. 241-254

On a hot September afternoon in 1929 John Oliver found himself once again engaged in legal battle before the Blount County Circuit Court. Even unfriendly spectators in the old courthouse in Maryville, however, grudgingly conceded Oliver's audacity and courage in fighting a seemingly hopeless battle against impossible odds...

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pp. 255-258

Today the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most popular park in the nation, attracting 9.3 million visitors in 1985. Cades Cove is one of the greatest attractions of this park, preserving there, as the National Park Service maintains, an authentic living museum...


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pp. 259-296


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pp. 297-308


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pp. 309-319

E-ISBN-13: 9781572337640
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870495595

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 1988