When missionaries approached John Tipton he turned them away. But before they left one of the Elders dusted off his shoes. John’s wife noticed what had happened and insisted that they hear what the Missionaries had to say. The next day he invited the missionaries in and was later, baptized into the Church. By 1896, several families in what is now called Northcutts' Cove, joined the LDS Church.
They originally met in members homes, but it didn't take them long to decide they needed a chapel in which to meet. Accordingly they formed a committee: John Tipton, Bill Tanner, Reuben Smartt, Henry Smartt, and Beecher Smartt. The land was donated by John and Belle Tipton and built by the donated labor, both of the members of the branch, non-members and missionaries.
Henry Smartt and Albert Fults made the wooden benches for the seating (see photo). The chapel was dedicated on October 24, 1909 by Charles A. Callis. Though regular services are not held there today, it is still in use for special occasions, such as the annual Easter service. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 18 April 1979.
The Northcutts Cove Chapel of is located just north of Altamont, in Grundy County, Tennessee. It sits at the top of the Cumberland plateau.
It served as the headquarters for the Eastern Tennessee Conference. (Missions used to be divided into conferences) It was the site of a three day debate (24-26 Oct 1909) between Charles A. Callis and Reverend Mansfield a Church of Christ (Campbellite) minister. This little church is believed to be the oldest existing chapel of the LDS Church in the southeastern United States.
The location of the Chapel is quite rural, due to the practice of proselyting outside urban areas. Originally this was done to avoid the organized persecution that was known to happen in cities. In truth, persecution was just as organized and virulant in rural areas as it had been in urban areas. The Cane Creek Massacre is the most tragic example of this.
As of 2000, Grundy county has the highest percent of LDS Church members of any other county in Tennessee. Just over 2%, which is almost 5 times the state average of just over 0.4%. By way of comparison, California's statewide average for the same period was 1.5%