Attractions, Gatlinburg, History

White Oak Flats Community of Gatlinburg

Generations of travelers have visited the quintessential mountain town of Gatlinburg, TN. Surrounded on three sides by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg is known as “The Gateway to the Smokies.” It’s an ideal vacation destination for families seeking a nature-centric escape or for those looking to take to the bustling streets of downtown Gatlinburg with its shopping, attractions and myriad restaurants. Others may prefer to hunker down in one of Gatlinburg’s many luxury accommodation options hidden away on the mountain, where families can revel in anything from cozy condos to massive chalets.

Gatlinburg is a preferred destination thanks to its proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Gatlinburg has been growing as a tourist destination for decades, evolving from a frontier community to a mountain mecca.

The first American settler in the area was a farmer from Edgefield, SC, named William Ogle. In 1802, Ogle traveled to the Smokies to scout out a new homestead for his family. He was so impressed by the variety of flora, fauna and hunting grounds in the surrounding forests that he wrote home to his family to tell them he had discovered “The Land of Paradise,” and he began to make plans to bring his kin to their new home. With the help of his Cherokee neighbors, Ogle hewed trees and prepared the lumber to construct a new cabin home upon his anticipated return after retrieving his family from South Carolina.

Sadly, Ogle passed away from malaria in South Carolina before he could make the journey back to his beloved new home site. His wife, Martha Jane Huskey Ogle, vowed to fulfill her husband’s wishes and made the difficult passage across the mountains to bring her children and several other family members to what soon became known as White Oak Flats, named for the abundance of that particular variety of trees in the area.

After the death of William, Martha took her five sons and two daughters for a short visit with relatives in Virginia. Her brother, Peter Huskey, and his family then accompanied them on their long trip to the East Tennessee area to establish their home

The traveling group discovered Ogle’s original cleared site with the building materials for their new home waiting for them. They got to work constructing the first cabin, which you can still visit in downtown Gatlinburg.

Her home is a very small one room home. You will see a lot of the tools they used back then and the tiny home that she lived in with her 7 children. Fascinating to think of the bravery that women must have had. Definately worth a stop when you visit downtown Gatlinburg.

According to the church minutes of “Fork of Little Pigeon Church”, Martha Ogle was the one of the group of people from White Oak Flats Community that asked the Fork of Little Pigeon Church to establish a church in White Oak Flats as an arm of the church in Sevierville in December 1817.


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