The Turner Cabin In Spring Creek Valley

WRITTEN BY CHRIS HARI | PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRUCE HARI

Cades Cove, the most visited attraction in the Smoky Mountains, takes visitors back to times gone by. The old homesteads inspire visions of what it must have been like to live as our forefathers lived before the amenities that we take for granted, like electricity and running water.  

The cabin Hubert and Dora Kinzalow Turner call home tells the story of how our ancestors lived in much greater detail than the beautiful but barren cabins in Cades Cove. The artifacts of daily living displayed in the cabin are handmade tools used by Dora’s grandparents and parents when the Kinzalow land they farmed consisted of much of Upper Spring Creek Valley in the countryside outside Riceville.

Dora grew up in a small cabin about a quarter of a mile down the road from where she now lives, the middle child of nine children. She wonders now how her parents did all the work that was required every day to survive. Clothes were carried down to the Kinzalow Spring and washed in a large pot using a washboard and an “agitator” that looks like a toilet plunger with a long handle. All water for family needs was carried up to the house from the spring in water buckets by every family member. There were no lights and no refrigerator, so the only meat eaten was pork, which was cured, not refrigerated. Heating and cooking were done on a wood cook stove. Baths were taken in the creek. 

In cold weather, water heated in the cook stove’s reservoir was dipped into a wash tub behind the stove, and the family took turns bathing in the warm water.

Fields were plowed by mules, and the planting of seeds was done by Dora’s father with a tree root that he carved that resembles a cane handle without the cane. Farmers were allotted an exact amount of cotton and tobacco they could grow, and that is where the Kinzalow family made money for the things they couldn’t supply for themselves.

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