You can point to the John Oliver Cabin in Cades Cove as a lynchpin in the settlement of the Great Smoky Mountains area, especially Cades Cove and Townsend, Tn.
Pioneers looked to the area north of Cades Cove where the current-day Cades Cove Loop Road begins as the ideal location to settle down, farm the land, and raise a family. The Oliver cabin is located at a high point in the cove that was chosen due to its more solid foundation. It is recorded in the history books that John and his wife Lucretia were the first to settle in this part of the Smoky Mountains.
John Oliver and his family settled the area despite the lack of an Indian treaty allowing them access to the Smoky Mountain land, which was typical of most European immigrants who came to the region during that time. By deciding to just go ahead and settle the land without treaty caused its fair share of contention, especially between new the immigrants and the Native Americans that had called the mountains home for centuries. It’s a small miracle that Cherokee Indians actually helped the Olivers get through their first winter in Cades Cove. Coincidentally, a short year later the Calhoun Treaty would give whites settlers the right to settle the cove. In 1826 the Olivers purchased their piece of the cove.
Up until the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there were Oliver kin living in the Smoky Mountains.
The cabin itself is reminiscent of other European-style log homes of the era found throughout the eastern frontier in the mid-1850s. Gravity has come to lock and seal wood together over time. You’ll find that mud was used between the logs to protect the insides from the rain and wind. You’ll also notice the cabin’s small windows and doors if you ever visit Cades Cove. They conserved heat and helped the building stand strong and upright through the changing seasons.
One note, the Oliver’s original cabin actually stood 50 yards behind the cabin now identified as their first home place in Cades Cove. The cabin that stands in Cades Cove today is actually the honeymoon house which was built for their John’s son to use when he married.
John, who died in 1864, and his wife are buried in Cades Cove at the Primitive Baptist church which they helped to found.