Cades Cove Gravestones

Date of Visit:  July, 2013

The cemeteries adjacent to the churches I visited during my first tour of the 11 mile scenic loop at Cades Cove were very interesting and shed light into the history (and mystery) of this area and the people who lived and died here.

Church & cemetery




I definitely recommend walking these paths around the Primitive Baptist Church, the Methodist Church, and the Missionary Baptist Church.




Some gravestones go back as far as the Revolutionary War:

William Hamby gravestone

But I was particularly interested in the Civil War stories:

Russell Gregory

I was intrigued by this one.  That Cades Cove Tour booklet I mentioned in prior post (available at all park visitor centers) tells a little about this story and is another reason I recommend getting it before setting off on your tour.

But this story from – “Story of Cades Cove Man’s Death Reveals Divisions During Civil War” – goes into a little more detail and tells of discrepancies in the story of what really happened.

It so happened that a relative of Gregory was listening to the story told by a guide.  It seems the most common version is that three years into the Civil War, Gregory was shot in the back by a band of marauding Confederates as he tried to run back to his cabin.  It is also said that Gregory’s son fought on the Confederate side and may have even had a part in his father’s death.  If true, can you imagine living with that kind of guilt?

But the relative says the family story passed on to him is that when Gregory discovered one of his calves was missing, he found it being slaughtered by Confederates, and when he approached with his gun, they shot him.  He died after being carried back to his cabin by family members.

Another interesting article:  Southern Unionist Graves at Cades Cove tells about how most of the cove’s residents simply didn’t want to have to choose, and how they felt neither side truly deserved their loyalty:

“No slave ever worked the Cove, and the mountain people shared few cultural ties with the South.” Of the thirty-three residents who fought in the Civil War, twenty-one Cades Cove residents fought for the Union. The Confederate raiders ravished Cades Cove and the Federal government did nothing to help the post-war loyalists. According to Speer, “Ravaged by the Confederates, and abandoned by the Union, the people of Cades Cove no longer trusted or welcomed outsiders. The Cove turned inward, developing a fierce independence.” The area that wanted mostly to be left alone from the beginning felt even more isolated after the Civil War.”

I never realized how divided Tennessee was in taking sides in the Civil War, but it is heartbreaking to hear of families being torn apart, and Mr. Gregory’s death and the part his own son may have played in it is particularly gut wrenching.

Crude gravestones

No telling how old these crude gravestones are.  I couldn’t get close enough to these to tell if any writing was even left on them.  But I could still imagine the grief of these families as they did the best they could to honor their dead.

Hill Sons – This one particularly tugged at my heart.  Three sons – the first born and died on February 18, 1916.  The second one born Feb. 27, 1917 and died less than seven months later (the only one named).  Then about a year later, another infant born and died on October 19, 1918.  I cried just thinking about this poor mother!

Cades Cove gravestones

Infants:  son of Mr. & Mrs. Pearlie Anthony – born & Died June 7, 1932
Infant – Chambers  “Budded on Earth”

Peggy Sue

Peggy Sue Cooper Vineyard.  A relatively new death, but I wondered why two gravestones, and why they conflicted on the date of her birth.

Deer by gravestones

This deer looked like he was interested in reading the headstones, too.  🙂

So as you can see, Cades Cove has so much to offer – not only in scenic beauty, wildlife, but in preserving the history of the people who were here long before us.

This is a post I actually did in July and didn’t realize I had only saved it as a draft, so am fixing that now.

It’s November now and I’ve been through the Cove dozens of times since then.  My favorite time was in late October when the leaves turning colors added a whole other dimension of beauty.  I’ve got lots more to share about that, the cabins, bears, my stay at the campground during the government shutdown, and so much more.  I’ve just been enjoying the exploration so much, plus I get too worn out to write about what I’ve done before I’m off again.

But I do post pretty often on Facebook since family and close friends keep up with me that way.  For those who don’t deal with Facebook, I’ll do a page with some links next so you can see all the photos I’ve posted publicly so you don’t need an account to see them.  And I’ll try to do better about posting to blog, too.  🙂