Where I’m From

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.

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