Skip to main content

SCOUT

Special Collections Online at The University of Tennessee

Dunn-Oliver Collection

 Collection
Identifier: MS-3690

This collection includes extensive documentation on the history and families of Cades Cove, Tennessee collected by John W. Oliver and used by Durwood C. Dunn in his book Cades Cove: The Life and Death of a Southern Appalachian Community, 1818-1937. The Oliver and Snider families are particularly well-represented, with good documentation of the Burchfield, Dunn, Gregory, Henry, Shields, and Tipton families as well. The Autobiography of Alexander Jobe includes information about that branch of the family. Other families, with fewer notes and documents, include Lequire, Sparks, Myers, Adams, Cable, Foute, Lawson, McCaulley, Bogle, Davis, and others.

Papers include correspondence; legal and business documents; genealogical, church, and cemetery records; personal memoirs; newspaper clippings; and papers associated with creating and publishing Dunn’s book. Many of the notes are by John W. Oliver's hand, some by Durwood Dunn, and others collected from various sources.

The collection also features many photographs of Cades Cove families, structures, and activities. Some of these photographs have identifying information, but most do not. A few are studio portraits, but most were taken near homes or other locations of interest.

An addendum was added in 2017 with material related to W. Wayne Oliver including correspondence and photographs.

It should be noted that the dates for the collection include those referred to in notes copied from documents not contained within the collection, rather than to the earliest and latest documents themselves.

Dates

  • 1730-1984

Conditions Governing Access

Manuscript and University Archives collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 24 hours is needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact Special Collections.

Extent

6 Linear Feet (10 boxes)

Abstract

This collection includes extensive documentation on the history and families of Cades Cove, Tennessee, collected by John W. Oliver and used by Durwood C. Dunn in his book Cades Cove: The Life and Death of a Southern Appalachian Community, 1818-1937. Papers include original manuscripts, typescripts, photocopies, and notes. The materials include correspondence; legal and business documents; genealogical, church, and cemetery records; personal memoirs; newspaper clippings; and the papers associated with creating and publishing Dunn’s book. The collection also features many photographs of Cades Cove families, structures, and activities.

Biographical/Historical Note

John Walter Oliver was born on October 14, 1878 in Cades Cove, Tennessee to William Howell and Elizabeth Jane (Gregory) Oliver. He attended Maryville College for two terms in 1899 and 1900, and taught school from 1900 to 1904 before attending a year of Massey Business College (Louisville, Kentucky) in 1904. In October of 1904 he became the mail carrier for Cades Cove, Tennessee and continued in this role until his retirement 35 years later. Oliver married Nancy Ann Whitehead on September 4, 1901 and they had six children, William Wayne, Florine Lucille, Jonnie Geneva, Henry Clay, John Winston, and Hugh Russell. Oliver’s Christian faith is prominently featured in his research interests and in his autobiography, which describes his conversion, his appointment to moderator and assistant clerk in 1913, and his ordination to ministry in 1916.

John W. Oliver was a passionate researcher of the history of Cades Cove and of his ancestry, and over his life he amassed many documents about both. He traced his paternal lineage through grandparents Elijah and Mary (Lawson) Oliver, great-grandparents John and Lucretia (Frazier) Oliver, and great-grandparents Howell and Mary (Bird) Lawson. His maternal lineage includes grandparents Charles and Celia (Carver) Gregory, great-grandparents Russell and Susan (Hill) Gregory (for whom Gregorys Bald was named), and great-grandparents James and Ann (Burchfield) Carver. When the government condemned the land in Cades Cove to create the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, John W. Oliver went to court and fought this appropriation of his land until he was forced out in 1937. He died on July 9, 1966.

Durwood Clay Dunn, John W. Oliver’s grandson, was born on November 30, 1943 in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia to Charles Snyder and Lucille (Oliver) Dunn. He attended the University of Tennessee, graduating in 1976 as a member of Phi Beta Kappa with a PhD in History. Dunn taught briefly at Hiawassee College (Madisonville, Tenn.) and the University of Tennessee before spending the bulk of a very successful teaching career at Tennessee Wesleyan College (Athens, Tenn.). He published widely in edited volumes and professional journals, and authored several books. Cades Cove: The Life and Death of a Southern Appalachian Community, 1818-1937 is one of the most successful publications of the University of Tennessee Press. Dunn's most recent book, The Civil War in Southern Appalachian Methodism, was published in 2013. Also in 2013, Dunn was awarded the first annual Durwood Dunn Award by The Society of Appalachian Historians. Dunn died on February 15, 2014.

Cades Cove, located in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, was called Tsiyahi by the Cherokees before John Oliver and his family became the first white settlers in 1818. The land was fertile, and the Cove quickly filled with farms and churches, the population nearing 700 before the Civil War. That war disrupted the community enough that its population didn’t recover until 1900 and its prosperity not until the 1920s. During the 1920s, plans for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park developed to include Cades Cove in a manner which required condemning the farms and businesses by eminent domain. John W. Oliver, grandson of the first settler, fought this in court battles from 1930 until he was forced to leave in 1937. Today, the buildings of the modern, thriving community have been destroyed in order to portray the very early stages of settlement for the many tourists who visit the Park each year.

Arrangement

Dunn-Oliver Collection

  1. Series I: Family Records
  2. Series II: Family Photographs
  3. Series III: Church Records
  4. Series IV: Durwood Dunn
  5. Series V: Oversize
  6. Series VI: Addendum

Acquisition Note

This collection was donated to Special Collections in 2012.

Related Materials

Interested researchers may wish to consult MS.3937, Durwood Dunn Collection, 1792 August 11-2013.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

Contact:
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA
865-974-4480