Summertime in Tennessee has always been hot. Before the days of air conditioning and the development of ways to combat mosquitoes, hot weather could pose a danger to health. Epidemics of cholera, malaria and yellow fever were sometimes serious public-health threats to urban dwellers in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
At least 350 graveyards are located in Sevier County. In addition to numerous cemeteries maintained by churches and those operated by perpetual care associations, there are literally hundreds of small cemeteries scattered throughout the county. Early settlers claimed land on which to live and raise their families, and when they died, they were often buried on the same property. Some cemeteries never had more than a few graves, while others grew to contain a large number of interments over several generations.
Storytelling has been around “for as long as there have been people,” Janice Brooks-Headrick said.
Located at the end of a long drive on the south bank of the French Broad River, the Buckingham House is reputedly the oldest brick structure in Sevier County and the third oldest in Tennessee. Framed by two large oak trees, the picturesque brick building was completed by Thomas Buckingham and his brother Ephraim in 1795. A brick on the front façade reads, "T. & E. B.," verifying the builders and the construction date.
For half a century, the Smoky Mountain Historical Society has been dedicated to preserving the past, weaving accounts of former times into those of the present with the records of history. The organization is devoted to the Smoky Mountain region, its pioneers and its posterity, and covers the three counties located on the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park—Sevier, Cocke, and Blount. Its mission always has been to "perpetuate culture and genealogical studies and histories…and to promote a sense of pride through our heritage and connections associated with the Great Smoky Mountains."
Why does George Jenkins like to be of service? "Because that's who I am," said Jenkins, who is bell captain at the Park Vista a DoubleTree by Hilton.
The First Presbyterian Church of Sevierville was established Nov. 7, 1914. The organizational meeting was held in the First Baptist Church with 75 inquirers present. The First Presbyterian Church traces its beginning to May 14, 1911, when the Rev. John H. Wright, a Sunday School missionary with the National Board of Missions of the Presbyterian Church, met with prospective members in the home of M.C. and Jane Hatcher Carr, four miles south of Sevierville on Ridge Road.
As the Methodist movement spread throughout England, John Wesley wanted the revival fires to burn over the colonies in America as well. In 1771, he sent Francis Asbury to preach in America. Faced with this huge task, Asbury asked, “What shall I tell them?” Wesley responded, “Offer them Christ.”
If you're a parent with young kids, you probably already have it. If you're not, you likely noticed when it took over your Facebook feed last December, and the December before that.
In the 1940s, Pigeon Forge was a sedate farming community – little more than a thoroughfare for tourists traveling to Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains. On May 15, 1946, Douglas and Ruth Ferguson opened the Pigeon Forge Pottery and unwittingly became a catalyst in the town's transformation from a pastoral village into a popular vacation destination.
Representing Pleasant View School in Sevierville, sixth grade student Robert Earl McMahan won the Southern Appalachian Spelling Bee sponsored by the Knoxville News Sentinel and went on to compete in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.
If you seek handmade pottery and jewelry, the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair is the place for you. Also if you seek handmade dolls, knives, leather goods, quilts, baskets, clothes, rugs, and glassware. Among other things.
On Nov. 29, 1838, David Crockett McMahan received a 4,000-acre land grant located nine miles southeast of Sevierville. A section of the property included in the grant was called Richardson's Cove, the farm originally deeded to William Richardson. Descendants of David McMahan still own parts of the land grant. In 2009, 322 acres of the original farm, now owned by brothers Jack D. McMahan and Thomas W. "Tommy" McMahan were designated a Tennessee Century Farm.
Sevier County group Locust Ridge has been nominated for a GMA Dove Award, a top honor in Christian music. In the nomination, singer and guitarist Russell Allen sees an opening.
In 1799, a group of about 75 Sevier County citizens residing on the north side of the French Broad River petitioned the Tennessee General Assembly to allow the section of Sevier County to join Jefferson County.
Although blind the last 19 years as editor and publisher of the Sevier County Record-Republican, Herbert O. Eckel saturated himself so thoroughly with current events through personal contacts, telephone conversations, a hired reader and Knoxville radio, that he was more aware of world and local events than journalists with good eyesight.
How does Sammy Shelor characterize the sound of his bluegrass group, Lonesome River Band? “I’ve always described it as traditional bluegrass music with a rock ’n’ roll downbeat,” said the Southwest Virginia-based banjo player.
Perhaps not many theme park fans muse on their visits this way: “Often the formative journeys that we take require a sense of what the ancient Greeks called kairos, which means the right time, the opportune moment which must be taken advantage of for something special to happen.”
In 1924, the Great Smoky Mountains Conservation Association tried and failed to get the Southern Appalachian Park Committee, a group studying the possibility of establishing a national park, to meet in Knoxville. The committee finally agreed to listen to the Knoxville contingent if they would meet with them in Asheville, N.C., their headquarters while exploring the Grandfather Mountain area.
Is Martha Whaley, 104, Sevier County’s most senior citizen?
On Sept. 14, 1929, Ella Mae Wiggins and other labor supporters drove to a union meeting in Gastonia, N.C. When they arrived, they were met by an armed mob and turned back. After driving about five miles they were stopped by a car, and armed men jumped out and began shooting. Wiggins, a single mother of five, was shot in the chest and killed.
Dr. William Wayne "W.W." Cope served as pastor of Pigeon Forge First Baptist Church for 28 years. He is the longest serving pastor in its 100-year history. Dr. Cope began his long tenure at the church June 4, 1964.
Some banjo innovators are world-famous. Carroll Best just liked to play. The music of the Haywood County, N.C., farmer and factory worker is featured on “Carroll Best and the White Oak String Band,” a new CD released by Gatlinburg’s Great Smoky Mountains Association.
Peppered throughout Gatlinburg are reminders of Mayor William L. Mills. Known as a selfless and honest man of unquestionable integrity, he was a well respected Gatlinburg leader for three decades. The W.L. Mills Conference Center and Mills Park are among the testaments to the appreciation the citizens of Gatlinburg had for him.
Now in its third year, the Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival is introducing something new: a major headlining act. Legendary country star Bill Anderson will perform Saturday, Aug. 23, in the Quality Inn Creekside’s conference center.