When the pioneers began settling in Cades Cove in the North Eastern section of the cove where the Cades Cove Loop Road now begins they picked the location fairly well . This area is the higher and dryer portion of the area relatively far away from the more swampy sections found elsewhere. The first of the settlers were John and Lauany Oliver. The Oliver’s were typical of the pioneers that settled in the Smokies. Hearty and ready to start a new life together, they were fully aware that they were moving into areas where no Indian treaties existed to allow for their settlement. This practice was generally a point of contention between the newly arriving settlers and the Native American population. However, in this case the Native Americans were open and helpful to the couple. The intervention of the Cherokees helped the Oliver’s survive the first winter. Within a year of the Oliver’s move into the cove, the Calhoun Treaty gave white settlers there, thus alleviating some of their initial concerns. In 1826, the Oliver’s purchased their land beginning the settlement that would eventually grow to a population of nearly 300.
The original Oliver cabin stood about fifty yards behind the cabin that is now identified as their cabins. In reality the structure that is identified as the Oliver cabin is actually the honeymoon house which was built for their son to use when he married. However, the cabin that sits in the cove today is an excellent example of the living conditions of those early settlers.
The couple stayed in Cades Cove and were instrumental in helping to develop the area into a community which included several homesteads, churches, and the like. Their early courage allowed for a small but robust community to grow into this popular tourist destination. You can still find the grave of John Oliver in the cemetery by the Primitive Baptist Church that he helped found.
There were still members of the Oliver family living in Cades Cove when it became part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They were the legacy of two very brave settlers looking to build a life.