About Gatlinburg Tennessee history

The quaint, resort-like village of Gatlinburg Tennessee, nestled in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, is known for it's beautiful scenery, great shopping, as well as its colorful history. The small resort town, commonly referred to as the "Gateway to the Smoky Mountains", lies at the foot of Mt. LeConte and was once called White Oaks Flats during the 19th Century. Throughout the town's history, settlers came to call this breathtaking community Gatlinburg. Gatlinburg's Strip in the 1950's

The first settlers to Gatlinburg came from South Carolina and held the family name of Oglesby, which was later changed to Ogle. Martha Jane Huskey Ogle brought her seven children to the area and built her cabin, which can still be seen today at the Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts' campus right in downtown Gatlinburg. Many reminders of the Ogle family exist today in Gatlinburg, such as hotel names, craft shops, and area landmarks. The area in which they settled in the early 19th century became known as White Oaks Flats. This area, which had never been settled before, was thick with thriving forests and wildlife. The local Native American tribes were the only human inhabitants and finding a way to live in peace proved to be difficult. Eventually, the pioneer settlers made the area their home and veterans of the Revolutionary War came to settle in White Oaks Flats from North Carolina. The fifty-acre land grants in Tennessee given by North Carolina made this possible.

The mountain village began to grow as community structures were built. The church was the first building constructed in 1835 and was called the White Oaks Baptist Church, even though settlers were primarily Presbyterian. The Baptist missionaries in the area convinced them to create a Baptist church before any other. A school was finished in 1867 but only remained open during three months out of the year.

Geographical boundaries made communication with the world outside of the Appalachian Mountains difficult. Mail service became available in around 1855 as a post office was opened in the mercantile owned by Radford Gatlin, who arrived from North Carolina in 1855 and was soon to have the town named after him. The postmaster, Richard Reagan, renamed his office Gatlinburg in appreciation of the office space offered by Gatlin. This name eventually spread to all of the establishments located in White Oaks Flats until the original name became obsolete in the late 19th Century.

Radford Gatlin, known for speaking his mind and holding Confederate views in a primarily Union supported area, was disliked by many. Upon sharing his views one too many times, a group of masked men, thought to be members of the Ogle family, beat him and he was eventually run out of town around 1860. Regardless of this history, the town known today for family fun, entertainment, recreation, and natural beauty is still called Gatlinburg.

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