RECOLLECTIONS of WEARS VALLEY
By Ida Headrick Myers
Wears Valley was named for Samuel Wear. He settled near Hendersons Spring around 1795 and built a house. Wear was the first County Court Clerk of Sevier County. He picked the site for Sevierville and named it in honor of his old friend John Sevier.
Before that, in the year 1792, two men named Piercefield and Crowson migrated from North Carolina to this valley looking for home sites. While they were crossing the mountains, they were met by Indians. Piercefield was killed, but Crowson made it back to the fort. He came back the next day with some other men and buried his friend in what is now the Crowson Cemetery in the lower end of Wears Valley. Piercefield was the first person buried in the valley.
Crowson chose the land where Piercefield was buried for his application for a land grant. After Crowson received his land grant, other families began migrating into the Valley.
The names of some of the early settlers were: Wears, Crowson, Hatcher, Rimel, Barnes, Burns, Mattox, Baily, Walker,Yearout, Shultz, Slaughter, Emert, Broyles, Blair, McKelder, Clabo, Cunningham, Lines, Lawson, Headrick, Bryan, and King. These pioneer families are representatives of the mountain folk. Hundreds of miles from the eastern settlements, these people raised their families, cultivated their land, and achieved prosperity. These pioneers helped found the Watauga Association and fought the battle of Kings Mountain during the Revolutionary War.
The valley is surrounded by mountains except at the north entrance where Cove Creek flows into Waldens Creek and joins Pigeon River. It is in the sixth district of Sevier County, Tennessee, and is six miles long and three miles wide. There are two large mountains in this valley. They are Cove Mountain and Round Top. The Cove Mountain is four thousand feet above sea level while Round Top is three thousand, five hundred feet above the valley.
This peaceful cove, with its fertile lowlands, gently rolling up-lands, towering mountains, and health-giving springs is most picturesque in the springtime when the first pale colors appear. Numerous apple orchards are to be seen flaunting their fragrant pink petals to the breeze. The paths that can be climbed to the tops of the mountains are bordered on both sides by huge rhododendrons and mountain laurels, while the feet press a carpetof green moss, sprinkled with violets and trailing arbutus.
Line Spring is located in Wears Valley on a little mountain projecting away from Round Top Mountain. The spring was named "Line Spring" from Alfred Line, the one-time owner of the land. There were several cabins built around the spring. Line Spring was the only place for the young people of Wears Valley to meet for recreation. It was the only place they went except to church and Sunday school.
After the death of Alfred Line, the land was sold to Rev. James Lawson, an old-time circuit rider preacher. At the death of Rev. Lawson in 1906, this land was inherited by his son, D. B. Lawson, who, in 1910, built Line Spring Hotel. The opening of this hotel was a tremendous financial help to the people of Wears Valley. It gave the people a market for their vegetables, milk, and butter. In 1910, whole milk sold for 20 cents a gallon; buttermilk 10 cents a gallon; butter 15 cents a pound; huckleberries 20 cents a gallon; blackberries 10 cents a gallon.
In 1916, Dan B. Lawson sold Line Spring to Belle Eaton and West Wynn. In 1922, Mrs. Bell Eaton sold her interest to Mr. and Mrs. Ed Emert. The hotel was at its peak during the 1920s.
Dan Lawson was the first man in the Valley to own a car. He bought it in 1911 or 1912. It has been told that as he brought the car up from Sevierville over Pine Cone Mountains after dark, the lights frightened some of the ladies.
Bad roads and steep mountains made the use of cars very hazardous. Since the only way to reach Wears Valley was over the mountains until the early 1920's, Esquires Bryan and J. T. Headrick, with the co-operation of others, worked out the only natural entrance to the Valley which was up Cove Creek.This road was in the making for years. Representative Fred Achley and former Governor Gordon Browning were instrumental in the first black top road.
CHURCHES OF WEARS VALLEY
As soon as the pioneers were established in Wears Valley, they began to plan a place to worship God. Eighteen-year-old Aaron Crowson cleared the land, cut the logs, and with one of the Hatcher men, built the first church in the valley. It was a very crude structure; no windows, one door, puncheon seats and a place to have a fire. This church was named "Bethlehem Church."
There were two denominations in the Valley, Methodist and Baptist. The Baptist people soon built a crude building.
In the 1870's, the Baptist Church blew down. The Methodist people allowed them to have services in their church building, until another could be built. Each had the Sunday service on a different Sunday each month. The Methodists had circuit riders. The Baptists elected their pastors. In the year 1886, the two groups of people built more modern buildings. The Methodists finished their meeting house first, but did hot hold services until the Baptists had finished their building also. The Reverend J. D. Lawson preached the dedication sermons at both places on Christmas Day, 1886. Both churches had what was called "union meetings." The Baptist pastor and the Methodist circuit rider united their congregation in moving revivals.
Union Sunday School conventions were held. The following program is from a convention held in what is now known as: "Happy Hollow".
PROGRAM OF THE 6TH DISTRICT S. S. CONVENTION
To meet at White Oak Grove October 22nd, 1911The churches also held what they called camp meetings. The meeting place was in Blount County, near the Camp Ground Methodist Church. They met along with the people of Tuckaleechee Cove.
Called to order at 9:00 a. m. by Vice President J. E. Webb
Singing: When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder
Devotional Exercise: William Kerley
Address of Welcome: Aaron Waycaster
Recitation: Evelyn Brewer
Topic: "Health" Discussed by Miss H. E. Daily and D. F. Greaser
Recitation: Malinda King
Topic: "How May We Interest Parents in Sunday School?"
Discussed by J. H. Lawson, Mrs. Roxie Young, J. A. Tarwater, and J. D. Patty
Recess and Lunch
Called to Order 12:30 p.m.
Topic: "Home Missions" Discussed by J. E. Webb and Miss Mabel Moore
Recitation: Miss Ida Headrick
Topic: "Is Sunday School Part of the Worship of God?"
Discussed by Miss M. C. Sutton and John Lawson
Recitation: Miss Minnie Myers
Recitation in German by D. F. Greaser
Address: Dr. S. V. Gibson
Singing: Mrs. Lydia Walker, S. H. Myers, D. F. Greaser
The Methodist church building of 1886 stands but has been remodeled. The educational building, kitchen and carpet have been added. The Wears Valley Baptist Church of 1886 has been replaced with a new modern building and a parsonage.
In 1902, the people of the Valley felt the need of a building near Headricks Cemetery. It was built as a union church and provided in the deed for the Primitive Baptists to have services the first Sunday in each month; the Methodists one Sunday, and the Missionary Baptists one Sunday. The church is called "Headrick Chapel." The Primitive Baptist denomination is the only one that still has an organized church there.
In March of 1938, Valley View Baptist Church was organized in an old store building with 56 charter members. In June of 1938, a building was completed. In April of 1939, this church was dedicated. Since that time, they have remodeled the original building and added Sunday school rooms.
Covenant Baptist Church had its beginning in a grove near the mountains. The people worshiped in old dwellings and an old mill house for two years or more. Then a small building was made that was used for about ten years. On August 3, 1947, the Covenant Baptist Church was organized with 16 charter members. The original building has been replaced with a new one.
Some years later, there was an Independent Missionary Baptist Church established.
SCHOOLS OF WEARS VALLEY
Soon after the first two churches were built, the people of Wears Valley began planning a school system. They decided to build two buildings; one in the lower end of the cove, and one in the upper end. Aaron Crowson donated the site for the lower one. It was named "The Crowson School". The people of that end of the community built it, and the county furnished the teacher for two or three months each year. The land for the one in the upper end of the valley was given by W. H. King and was called "The King School". The seats in both buildings were made of long planks, and some of them had planks at the back. The buildings had one door at the front, windows on both sides, and one end covered with painted boards for a blackboard.The only books they had were McGuffey Readers, Websters "Blue-Back" spellers, and Venable's Practical Arithmetic. There was a "chart" that sat on the stage. It was for the younger children. It had large sheets of paper with words and letters on them. It was bound at the top, and a page could be turned over the top after it had been learned. All the children read together as the teacher pointed to the words.
As the population grew, there was a need for improvements, and through the influence of Miss Betty Davis, a sister of Dr. Davis who lived in the Valley, another school was started with trained Christian teachers. In the early 1900's, Miss Davis requested Dr. Garnan of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Knoxville, Tenn., to help her with this project. He made several trips and decided to help. The school was located near the center of Wears Valley. W. B. (Bates) Emert and wife donated the land for the building. Also, Miss Davis gave a sum of money to start the construction. By the spring of 1907, plans were made to begin the building. In the summer of the year, Miss Harriet C. Daily came to help. She was the first teacher of "Wearwood Academy," the name given the new school. By the fall of 1908, Wearwood Academy had two classrooms and a library. Classes did not begin at the school until after Christmas. By August, the county had been persuaded to pay one teacher, and Wearwood became a free school. Miss Mabel Moore was the new teacher. On March 28, 1912, the first class graduated. The class members were: Ida Headrick (me), Melvin Lawson, and Wesley Clabo.
The Sevier County Board of Education bought the Wearwood property
and changed the name to "Wearwood School." A few years after, this
school was held five months of each year. The Crowson and
King schools were consolidated to Wearwood and the county built
two more classrooms. Mell Lawson, a former graduate of
Wearwood Academy and also Maryville College, returned to teach at
My editing of this transcription's typos stopped here 21 Oct 2011. --John M. Gwin
The early dwellings of the people of Wears Valley were very rustic log cabins. Most of them had built-in beds with puncheon tables and chairs. They had no windows and one door. Sometimes, it was just a shed with a back and the rest open.
The people helped each other. They had log rollings, corn shuckings,house raisings, and woodcuttings. When the men went to work, the women all went with them to fix the food and have a quilting. The people helped each other with planting and harvesting times.
The majority of the people believed in planting signs. Some of these were: plant corn on the dark moon with the sign in the arms or thighs. If corn is planted on the dark moon, the stalks do not grow as high and the ears turn down. The 100th day of the year is best for beans. Never set cabbage or sow mustard when the sign is in the head, or the lice will eat it up. Plant cucumbers and melons when apple trees are in bloom or plant some each Saturday in May. Always dig your potatoes on the dark moon to keep them from rotting. Any kind of plant you want to have a good firm hold in the earth, plant it on the dark moon. Should you want a tall plant, put it out in the light of the moon. Never haul manure on the light or new moon; if you do, it will lay on top of the ground and dry out. Haul it on the old or dark moon, and you will be able to mix it with the soil. Trim fruit trees, rose bushes, and grape vines during the dark moon in February. The later on the dark moon you kill hogs, the more lard you will make and the flatter your meat will lay in the skillet while frying. Always make soap on the dark moon in March. Never cut tobacco in anchor days or it will cure green. Don't set tobacco when the east wind is blowing. To keep kraut white, make it on the old moon when the sign is in the bowels.
Some old familiar weather sayings are red clouds in the east at sunrise meant rain before the day was over. Also, when the sun shines on the hilltops and not in the valleys in the morning, there will be foul weather before night. If November is cold, the rest of the winter will be mild. If there's ice in November that will hold a duck, there will be nothing after but slush and muck. December has to be a cold month or there's a poor crop season ahead, and Christmas feasting will be followed by a year of fasting. In December, hear the thunder; little food and much hunger. It is also said if February has a lot of snow, it was a good sign. Long ago, there was a belief in the valley that in leap year few lambs would be born, and that many sheep would fall prey to sickness and accident.
Some miscellaneous sayings were: Move on the light moon if you want to prosper. To move on the dark moon, you lose money. To hear an owl hooting at night is a sign of bad weather.
The people of the valley used a language and sayings all their own. Vittles meant food; youngans, small children; shet, close; rosenears, early corn; sallet, turnip greens; quair, acting strange; nigh, near; peaked, pale; arter, ought to; fetch, bring; a-fixin, getting ready; aim, intend to. "She sure drove her duck to a good market" meant a good marriage. "He made his bed, he'll have to lie on it" a bad marriage. "Now lick your calf over" do work over. "Every tub sets on its own bottom." "Generations grow weaker or wiser." "Till the cows come home."
Some more old sayings were: "Every stitch you sew on Sunday, you will have to pick out with your nose;" "Happy as a coon in a roasting ear patch;" "Rough as a pine knot;" "Ugly as homemade soap;" "Thin as a bat's wing;" "He's so bright you will have to put him under a tub before the sun can come up."
Some of the Wears Valley people tanned their own skins in the following manner: spread the hide on the floor with the flesh side up; sprinkle one-half pound salt evenly over this flesh; wait until the skin absorbs the salt, which will take a few hours; then sprinkle a liberal coating of pulverized alum, a pound or more; after about ten days, scrape off the alum; scrub with soap and water to get out all the salt and alum; wash all the hide in warm water and soap; spread out to dry; before fleshside is dry, sprinkle with meal and let dry.
Before the first fruit jars were brought to Wears Valley, food was preserved by pickling and drying. Beans were pickled as follows: gather the beans, a bushel or two; string and break; wash and put in a large iron kettle; cook until you could mash a bean between finger and thumb; cool. Begin packing in the keg (or some people had 10 or 20 gallon crocks). Put in three double hands full of beans after you had whitened the bottom of the keg with salt. Then add a layer of salt and beans until all beans are used. Pour enough cold water to cover. Press down and hold all beans under water. Use as wanted. Soak the beans before cooking to remove the excess salt.
Recipe for sulphured fruit: gather, peel, and quarter firm sour apples, preferably "winter johns"; prepare about two gallons. Pour in the fruit keg. Make a round hole in center of fruit; place a teacup containing about two teaspoons sulphur in the hole with a small fire coal. Let it burn the sulphur and hold the smoke in the keg. Do this each day until the container is full. When full, cover well and the fruit will be good all winter. To serve, soak a portion three or four hours and cook as any applesauce.
Lye hominy was a favorite dish.
The desserts consisted of molasses, ginger bread, old-fashioned egg pie, and popcorn balls. Huckleberries, now called blue berries, were picked, cooked, and dried; also blackberries, apples and peaches the same.
During the early days of the Valley, there were no doctors as we think of them today. When a child was born, the mother had a "midwife." Sometimes the midwife would stay a week or more before birth.
Every spring, the father, or some relative, would dose out calomel for each member of his family. Calomel was a rather harsh laxative to be taken at night with one swallow of water and no more water until the medicine was eliminated--at least 24 hours. If one drank water, the medicine would make your mouth sore.
Quinine was another medicine used for colds and fever. Usually when quinine was given, an onion poltice was placed on the chest.
A favorite cold remedy was evergreen. It was gathered and boiled until the strength was out and the liquid was drunk; about one half cup, two or three times a day. Another cold remedy was to wrap the throat with a sheer stocking and take ginger tea.
A remedy for the croup was to saturate a piece of wool flannel with lard, turpentine, and quinine; then put on the patient's breast while real hot. Another croup remedy was to gather beetlenut berries just before frost bitten; wash and boil them until tender; strain and add a little honey and some sugar and boil until a thin syrup. Dose: 1/2 teaspoon every three or four hours until relieved.
A remedy for hives in small children was to gather ground ivy berries and make tea. Also, another good remedy was roasted onion juice. To roast: use a medium sized onion; slice in quarters to the root end and fill the slices with sulphur. Wrap in a wet cloth and place in hot ashes and let bake until tender and mash the juice out; give about 1/2 teaspoon once a week.
A general prevention of disease was to fill a small square of cloth with garlic and asafoetida. It was tied with a string and was worn around a child's neck. The child wore it at all times and was encouraged to chew or smell it every day.
Beauty customs were quite different. A young woman with freckles would go to an old hollow stump and dip her fingers in the stumpwater, then rub the water over the freckles on the face and nose. Also, some teenage girls would get up the first morning in May, without speaking to anyone; go to the wheat fields and wash their face in the dew to remove the freckles.
In order to rid one's self of warts, one would have to steal mother's dish rag and bury it in the drip of the house.
For a girl to have a powder puff, she would have to catch, kill, and skin a mole, let the hide dry, and then fashion a soft furry ball from the hide.
The foregoing recollections of Wears Valley are lifelong
reflections as remembered by Ida H. Myers.
1. Ida Headrick Myers grew up in Wears Valley. A version of her "Recollections..."was published in Sevier County's The News-Record in 1953.