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Wears Valley History

Wears Valley is named after a Revolutionary War veteran, Samuel Wear (1753-1817). Wear built a fort close to the entrance of Wears Valley in what is now Pigeon Forge.

Early settlers included Aaron Crowson and Peter Percefield who navigated from North Carolina to Wears Valley in 1792 and William Hatcher. In 1886 his son, Reuben Hatcher, built the Wears Valley United Methodist Church which is now standing and in use.

During a period of strife between the Cherokee and Euro-American settlers, Wear’s Fort was attacked in 1793. Percefield was killed in a Cherokee attack. Wear lead a march against the Cherokee village of Tallassee shortly thereafter. In May 1794, Percefield was killed in a Cherokee attack. Crowson rode to Wear's Fort to get help, but the Cherokee had fled by the time he returned. Several settlers marched onward to Great Tellico to the west, where they murdered four Cherokee while they slept. Percefield was buried on a hill in the eastern half of Wear Cove, in what is now Crowson Cemetery. Percefield was buried in the exact spot where he was killed. Later that year, Crowson received a land grant for this plot of land.

Other early settlers in Wears Valley included a Revolutionary War veteran named William Headrick (1744–1839), who arrived in 1821, and John Ogle (1788–1841), a War of 1812 veteran and son of the first settlers in Gatlinburg. Another War of 1812 veteran, Peter Brickey (1769–1856), arrived in 1808. Brickey operated a large farm and distillery in the valley until his death in 1856. The log house he built shortly after his arrival still stands in Smith Hollow (between Wears Valley and Townsend).

Like many other farms in Wears Valley, the Brickey farm was ravaged by the U.S. Civil War. Isaac Trotter, who operated the iron forge at Pigeon Forge reported a Cherokee raid in Wear Cove in 1864. Earlier in the war, a Union army passed through the valley en route to dislodge the troops of Will Thomas who were entrenched in Gatlinburg. William C. Pickens, a resident of Wears Valley, was one of the so-called bridge-burners, a band of pro-Union guerillas who attempted to destroy several railroad bridges across East Tennessee in November 1861. Pickens led the failed attack on the Strawberry Plains bridge, and was badly wounded in the attack. Pro-Union newspaper editor William "Parson" Brownlow, wanted by Confederate authorities for complicity in the bridge burnings, hid out in Wears Valley at the home of Valentine Mattox in November 1861.

Sometime after the war, Alfred Line (1831–1897) established a farm at the base of Roundtop Mountain, near the southern half of Wear Cove. Line Spring, a clear mountain spring which flows down from the slopes of Roundtop, gave its name to a small recreational area that developed in this part of the cove. In the 1880s and 1890s, mineral-rich mountain springs were thought to have health-restoring qualities, and provided an early form of tourism for the mountain regions. In 1910, D.B. Lawson, the son of a circuit rider who had purchased the Line farm, constructed the Line Spring Hotel. The hotel boosted the valley's economy by providing a market for local farmers.

headrick chapel
Headrick Chapel in Wears Valley

Around 1800, Crowson and several other settlers erected a crude log church known as the Bethlehem Church. The church was used by both Methodists and Baptists throughout the 19th century, with Baptist services being conducted by an elected pastor and Methodist services being conducted by circuit riders. On occasion, both congregations would meet in a mini-revival known as a "union meeting." In 1886, both Baptists and Methodists constructed separate structures, although union meetings were still fairly common.

For most of the 19th century, funerals in Wears Valley were held at Headrick Cemetery, near the valley's western entrance. A large oak tree provided shelter for funeral-goers, although cold weather and rain often made apparent the need for a building in which to conduct indoor services. In 1902, according to local lore, the oak tree was destroyed by lightning, and in response, the residents erected Headrick Chapel on the cemetery's grounds. The chapel was shared by four Baptist and Methodist congregations, with funeral services having priority. The chapel's bell would ring once for every year of the deceased's life, a tradition still observed by the inhabitants of Wears Valley. In 2001, Headrick Chapel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Source: Wikipedia.com. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wears_Valley,_Tennessee

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