The churches of Cades Cove

Townsend, Tenn. – The people of Cades Cove are long gone, their homes and history absorbed into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But their churches remain, and the graves behind them still tell stories.

The Primitive Baptist Church tells the story of the Civil War in the border territories. Slavery wasn’t common in the mountains of East Tennessee, and Union sentiment ran strong. But the region was very much split, and things got personal. The church stopped meeting during the war made their reasons public: “It was on account of the Rebellion and we was Union people and the Rebels was too strong here in Cades Cove. Our preacher was obliged to leave sometimes, and thank God we once more can meet.”

A gravestone in the graveyard nearby reads: “Russell Gregory 1795 – 1864 Murdered by North Carolina Rebels.”

A short ride down the road and you’ll find the Methodist Church, which split in two during the war. Half a mile further is the Missionary Baptist Church. It also stopped meeting during the war, and when it began meeting again, Confederate sympathizers weren’t invited.

What a hard time that must have been.