I grew up in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a remote community known as Happy Valley. When I tell people about being a hillbilly, I’m not joking. My mother’s family settled into what is now part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, sometime during the 19th century. Her father was from near Cades Cove, with the road leading from the Cove to Abrams Creek Camp Ground in Happy Valley named after his family, Cooper Road. Her mother grew up in the southern part, an area called Rich Woods which was near where Abrams Creek emptied in to the Little Tennessee River. Actually, my ancestors weren’t the earliest people to venture into the valley. Spanish explorer Juan Pardo apparently came through in 1567 on his way to visit the Cherokee village of Chalahume, located at the mouth of Abrams Creek. The first recorded settler, Robert Rhea, came to the area in the 1820’s, a veteran of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. The oldest buildings remaining are around 100 years old.
Looking into Happy Valley, from Look Rock on top of Chilhowee Mtn.
First settler to valley, grave site located at Red Top Church
Actually is Chilhowee Primitive Baptist Church but everyone refers to it as Red Top because of its red roof.
According to one of my relatives, the round ball at the top is actually a round stone from Abrams Creek
Possibly the oldest house left in the valley, built in the early 20th century by one of my grandmother’s relatives, Annis Boring.
On the National Register, my mother and her brothers and sisters went to school here.
Where I attended church. Not sure if it’s older than Red Top.
Viney was my grandmother’s cousin that had this store located across from the Missionary Baptist Church in the northern end. At least once a week, my mother would take my brother and me there to get a Lay’s bologna sandwich which was a treat if we would be good.
The store sets across from the church
This is remnants of one my ancestor’s house located near Abrams Creek Camp Ground
Lining this trail are daffodils, daylilies and garlic that have naturalized which were originally planted by ancestors that settled there.