- [S106] The Mountain Press, 15 Feb 2006.
Hundreds flock to historic opening of Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center
By: CANDICE GRIMM, Staff Writer February 15, 2006
TOWNSEND - By modern standards, the log cabin built in 1894 on Flat Branch Road near Norton Creek in Sevier County was small, but to its builder, James Anderson Cardwell, the cabin was sufficient for providing his family a safe haven from the elements and animals.
Cardwell could never have conceived that his home would one day host hundreds of visitors. But, during the Sunday grand opening of the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center in Townsend, it is probable that more people visited the cabin than have crossed its threshold in all of its 112 years.
Moved last year from its original location in Sevier County after its owner Wilma Maples of Gatlinburg donated it to the heritage center, the Cardwell cabin and a second reconstructed cabin offered visitors a chance to see how meals were prepared in the fireplace. Visitors even got a taste of the typical beans, cornbread, and gingerbread meal pioneer families ate.
Exhibits inside the main building at the center gave a glimpse into the past through examples of the quilting and ingenious crafts early settlers made, as well as the music and storytelling which provided their entertainment.
Kathy Enos, president of the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Guild, a group of 21 women who raised $120,000 for the center and will continue to raise funds for its educational programs, said of the huge turnout for the event, "It's amazing. ... Our intent was to be open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., but it has been packed since 11 a.m. After people drove in from everywhere, we couldn't turn them away."
Enos went on to explain that the mission of the non-profit heritage center is to preserve, protect and promote the unique history and rich culture of the residents and Native Americans who inhabited the mountain communities now within Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
"Many young people don't know about their heritage because their parents didn't share it with them. We don't want our children to be ashamed of their heritage," said Enos. "Through the center we want to instill in our children a pride in their heritage, and show them that their ancestors were not dumb hillbillies."
Robert Patterson, director, said the center will feature Appalachian music and demonstrations of crafts such as spinning and cooking on weekends and during special events. The frequency will depend upon the number of volunteers willing to perform demonstrations and the center's resources.
A main goal of the center is to educate children through classes, summer camps and Christmas camps. Patterson said docents are currently being trained and licensed teachers will conduct the classes and camps.
In addition to the cabin, Maples donated the money to build the educational wing of the center in memory of her husband, the late Rel Maples. She also donated a barn and some furnishings for the cabins.
"I donated the Cardwell cabin because I wanted to save it," said Maples.
Among those who especially enjoyed seeing the reconstructed Cardwell cabin were several grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren of James Anderson and Martha Clabo Cardwell.
Geneva Sarten, 75, of Sevierville, along with Mary Stamey and Frances Cardwell of Maryville, granddaughters of the builder, had even lived in the cabin as children.
Sarten, who lived in it until age of 5, said she was pleased that the cabin had been restored.
"I remember my parents papering the walls with newspapers to keep out the drafts," said Sarten, looking at the remnants that still cling to the walls. She also remarked that the fireplace and mantel were original, except for the brick interior of the fireplace.
Another granddaughter, Wanda Rogers, 69, of Knoxville, said of the restoration, "I think Dad would have been very proud to see this. I don't think he imagined it would be possible to be restored."
Stamey agreed, saying, "It's fantastic. The only thing I would like to see is a plaque or something to say that the Cardwells lived in it."
- [S101] 1880 Census, Gatlinburg, Sevier County, Tennessee, 458B.
- [S94] Sevier County, Tennessee Census, 450b, 1 Jul 1870.
- [S77] Rawlings Funeral Home Records 1911-1995, Larry D. Fox, (Smoky Mountain Historical Society), 12 Nov 1936.
Cardwell, J A 68 Nov 12, 1936 Star by sons buried Banner Cem
- [S71] Sevier County Republican Extracts, Beulah Linn, (http://www.sevierlibrary.org/genealogy/Newspapers/newspapers.htm), 18 Nov 1936.
J.A.Cardwell, 68, Nov. 12. Bur. Banner. Surv: Widow, Martha, 4 sons, R.S., Willie, Lee Cardwell of Star Route, Rob. Cardwell, Knox. 3 daugh: Mrs. John W. Houser, Miss Demeries Cardwell, Star Route. 1 bro: Willie, 3 sisters, Mrs. Isaac McFalls, Star Route, Mrs. Baus Ownby, Rt. 4. 3 half brothers: Allen, Dave, Rob Cardwell. 1 half sister Mrs. Roy McMahan.
- [S34] In the Shadow of the Smokies, Smoky Mountain Historical Society, (1993), 523.