If you have ever visited the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, chances are, you have been to Cade’s Cove. If you haven’t been there, it is an 11mile drive that loops around old farms, churches, and settlements preserved over the years just as they were when they were originally built by the earliest settlers in the 1800’s.
You can only imagine my shock and befuddlement when I found out that the friends who were so kind to drive us around Cade’s Cove in the back of their pickup truck-Jack and Faye Byrant, are direct descendants of The Oliver's, the first white settlers in the area. Jack’s Great (x4) Grandfather, John Oliver, built the first cabin you come across when you drive through the Cove. He said that the Oliver’s decided to build their home nearer to the back of the current location first, and built at the near end of fall. They had a teeny baby girl, and no recourses to get them through the Winter. The land was full of Cherokee Indians, and it seems the only way the Oliver’s survived that first winter was due to the kindness of the Cherokee. There was a tree stump not too far from their home, and they would repeatedly find deer meet, rabbit, squirrel…all as a gift to the Oliver’s to help them get through that first winter.
This kind of story blows my mind. Faye had a great point when she talked about how Northerner’s sometimes make fun of “rednecks, hillbillies, etc.” She challenges them to think about how incredibly self-sufficient and resourceful these settlers had to be with what they had. They were amazing, hard working families who loved each other and held together.
This was an amazing adventure for our family, and we are forever grateful to Faye (who attended Innovate08 at GCC last year) and Jack for their kindness!
Oh yeah, and we saw a bear! He looked like a black speck on a hill, so I won’t bore you with that photo, but here’s another you can enjoy. We all agreed that this is part of what Heaven looks like.