The Henry Whitehead Place is one of the more interesting historical structures in Cades Cove – both in the actual historical significance of the cabin and its appearance!
Separation and divorce were extremely rare in early Cades Cove, but Matilda ‘Aunt Tildy’ Shields was deserted by her first husband. Matilda and her son were left without a home, but the community quickly banded together and built her a rough, but much appreciated cabin.
Although Aunt Tildy’s first marriage didn’t work out so well, she did much better her second time around. Matilda met Henry Whitehead who was a carpenter and committed family man. Prior to marrying Matilda, Henry promised her the finest home in all of Cades Cove – he did not let her down!
The quality of the carpentry gives the house the appearance of being a modern frame built home. However, a close inspection of the corners will reveal that this is sawn log home with perfectly planed logs. Sawn log homes were incredibly rare in the Smoky Mountains – this is one of two known to exist during this timer period.
The thick log walls are precisely four inches thick and meant to provide insulation from the elements. Instead of the traditional rubble or stone chimney, Henry built a true brick chimney with bricks he made on site!
The much smaller, crudely built cabin behind the main residence is a testament to the romantic hardship Matilda experienced. After her husband walked out, her brothers and some area men worked together to quickly build the rustic cabin. The rough logs and rubble chimney provided Matilda and her son with shelter until she remarried Henry Whitehead.
When Henry Whitehead built the main residence, he built it directly in front of the small cabin and joined the two roofs together so there would be a covered pathway between the two residences. Here, you can see a perfect example of fine carpentry and a rough cabin on the same lot!
Matilda’s son, Josiah ‘Joe Banty’, went on to be a famous moonshiner producing the ‘white lightning’ for Cades Cove throughout prohibition.
This historical site is a 15-minute walk or five minute drive from the Cades Cove visitor center near the historical grist mill. Near the exit from the parking lot for the Cades Cove visitor center, turn right on Forge Creek Road (closed November to March) and continue 0.8 miles to the parking area. The Henry Whitehead place will be on the left side.