Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mormons in Cades Cove

In an LDS history of East Tennessee, I came across a reference to a Mormon family living in Cades Cove. My curiosity being peaked I just had to find out more. For those who don’t know, Cades Cove is a valley in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, that was frozen in time. It had the fortune (or misfortune) of being inside the boundaries of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Although residents were assured they would not have to leave their homes, once the park was funded in 1927 the federal government seized their property and sent them packing. Modern structures were demolished giving the cove its nineteenth century feel that makes it so popular with tourists today. I have been one of those tourists. Turns out, however, that one of the families sent packing was Mormon.

In the later years the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) had a small following, primarily a single family, the Harmons, who were permitted to use one of the Methodist church buildings for services” – Dr. A. Randolph Shields.

The LDS history was vague about when the Harmons lived in the cove, or how many there were, and gave no more information about them. But there was no way I was going to let that stop me. Actually, the Harmon Family wasn’t hard to track down. Polly Harmon was one of the few certified midwives in the area. Her name appeared in several places in histories of the cove. From her I found her husband Samuel and then others.

Samuel Patterson Harmon and Polly Anna Davis were married in 26 August 1889 in Blount County, Tennessee. This may have been Polly’s second marriage since she uses the last name Hagerman on the marriage record. They joined the church about a month apart from each other in 1895 (Sam in April and Polly in May) in Eve Mills, Monroe County, Tennessee, which is about 30 miles west of Cades Cove. They were joined by several family members the next year, including two of Samuel’s brothers, a sister-in-law and Samuel’s mother. I know the missionaries names that were involved in their conversion from the baptismal record; W. P. Hays, H. W. Christensen, J. R. Halliday, James A. Muir, William Fairborn, W. H. Carter, and I’m sure many others.

In 1900 and 1910 they were still living in Blount County, Tennessee. Polly went by Annie or Pollie at different times, but the children match up quite nicely.

By 1920, they were living in Cades Cove. They lived “a couple of miles out Cooper Road.” Cooper road was the only road from the cove to Maryville, Tennessee. On that same side of the cove is the only remaining Methodist church. Built in 1902 it could quite possibly be the one used for LDS services. Most of the residents of the cove were Baptist. But a small minority were Methodist.

Samuel’s trade listed in the 1920 census was “mountain farm.” Exactly what that was and how it might differ from "general farmer" that his neighbors were list as, I don't know. While living at Cades Cove, at least five of their children were baptized there; Laura, Olive, Austin, Lorina, and Lloyd.

After being kicked out sometime between 1927 and 1929, the family moved to Whitfield County in North Georgia. They showed up on the 1930 census, by which time all but one of their children had moved out. Only their youngest, a son they named Ether, still lived at home. At least one of their other children, Austin and his wife Minnie, still lived nearby. A few years later, Polly died in 1935 at the age of 59. She was buried in Georgia. After Polly’s death, Samuel moved back to Maryville, Tennessee which is about 20 miles from Cades Cove. He lived there until his death in 1940.

13 comments:

Ardis E. Parshall said...

A rotten thing to happen to them circa 1927, but how wonderful that you have found and identified them today. It is amazing how many Latter-day Saints you have been able to find in a relatively small area, who were Saints for so many years without a full church structure supporting them.

BruceCrow said...

By the time the Church really got membership records organized in Tennessee there were thousands of saints who were baptized and lived their lives under the radar, so to speak.

What I find most disappointing is that these people risked a great deal to be baptized during their lifetime and yet if they are in family search (in this case they are), the baptism date is a proxy baptism done in 2000 by someone who didn't take a couple of hours to see if the baptism was really necessary. Could we make the effort to recognise that a living baptism is worth remembering?

OK, I'll stop ranting now.

JA Benson said...

Thank you Bruce, very interesting. I also enjoy visiting Cades Cove. As a fellow Tennessean, I enjoy your articles.

BruceCrow said...

Thanks JA,
Did I already know you were from Tennessee? Please tell me I didn't. That way I can go on believing my memory isn't getting as bad as it probably is.

Anonymous said...

achammuHi, my name is Darrell Lloyd Harmon son of Ishmael Lloyd Harmon;My grandfather was Eather Lloyd Harmon, and his father was Sammual Patterson Harmon. my great grand father and from what i am told from the family elders i look a lot like him. I also understand the harmon name was origanlly spelled harmann our decendants were 7 brothers who came through pittsburg from germany. 4 of whom went west and the others came south? My aunt Brady Holder is a member of LDS in maryville and has a great knowledge and pics of our heritage.

BruceCrow said...

Thanks for taking the time to comment Darrell. You obviously have a pretty good grasp of who your ancestors were. That isn't very common today. Did you know Samuel was LDS and lived at Cades Cove?

If you or your aunt have any photos of Samuel or Polly or their children, I'd love to see them.

judy canty martin said...

Bruce, about your 'rant'. I agree, they need to stress research and check with the new program. I have spent the last few years checking up on my genealogy, where I find some lookie lou has changed it. Even if there are photos and records!
Good thoughts about your collecting photos, I am trying to shake my family tree also.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I am Lucy Harmon, I married the baby boy of Ether and Edith Harmon. The family from the Cove. They had 10 children, 5 boys, and 5 girls. One passed away at birth. My sister -in-law has a lot of history and pictures. Thank u for putting this on the computer. Not really sure why they was the only family in the Cove that was LDS.

BruceCrow said...

Hi Lucy, Thank for commenting. I've not researched much on Ether and Edith. at some point I run the risk of getting too lose to living people, so I try to keep it at 100+ years ago. But history doesn't always stay within the lines, so....

I'd love to get in contact with your sister-in-law to look at her history and pictures.

Unknown said...

Hi I am Darrell's oldest daughter and would love to learn everything discovered on my family history from the cove.. Any help is appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Tiffany Pratt said...

Hi I am Darrell's oldest daughter and would love to learn everything discovered on my family history from the cove.. Any help is appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Tiffany Pratt said...

Hi I am Darrell's oldest daughter and would love to learn everything discovered on my family history from the cove.. Any help is appreciated. Thanks in advance.

BruceCrow said...

Hey Tiffany, feel free to email me directly. bruce_crow(at)yahoo.com