Image for the Asking: Reflections on the Past

Image for the Asking: Reflections on the Past

Don McGowan

Story and image by Don McGowan

Photo by Don McGowan

William Ogle and his wife Martha Huskey were the first Euro-American settlers in the area of what would—by way of first being called White Oak Flats—one day become Gatlinburg, Tennessee. They arrived in the early 1800s (1803 by their own historical accounting), and in time their descendants spread into the arable, and sometimes not-so-arable, valleys of the various branches and tributaries of the Little Pigeon River, particularly West Prong.

One of their great-grandchildren was named Noah H. Wilson Ogle by his father Caleb, but he was known everywhere simply as “Bud.” In time, Bud Ogle married Lucinda Bradley, and they began farming on 400 acres of land along Le Conte Creek and its various drainages, collectively called Twin Creeks, in the area where the northern base of Mount Le Conte becomes a bit more gently sloping toward its meeting with West Prong of Little Pigeon.

Of noteworthy historical significance, one of Bud and Lucinda’s daughters, Rebecca, married Wiley Oakley, the well-known “Roaming Man of the Mountains.” Rebecca and Wiley’s daughter, also named Lucinda, was one of the wonderful characters of Sevier County, a repository of Smoky Mountain culture and history until she passed away in 2003. She was often called on to share recollections of her early life as a child of the Roaming Man.

The structures on Bud Ogle’s farm were built between the late 1890s and the early 1900s. Among them is an interesting and somewhat unique dwelling known as a “saddlebag” cabin. More typically in the South, saddlebag cabins consisted of two single-room log cabins built end-to-end under a common roof sharing a single pitch on either side of a central ridge. In the case of Bud’s saddlebag cabin, the separate cabin footprints were built five years apart, and there were interior doors connecting them in addition to their separate exterior entrances.  

In the north wall of the “newer” cabin is a 16-pane window. Outside of this window a large dogwood tree (Cornus florida) has graced the yard for many years. When the dogwood blooms and a spring wind blows, the abstract reflections in the wavy old window glass are a photographer’s delight.

Don McGowan owns and operates EarthSong Photography. For five years he was the staff photographer for Friends of the Smokies. He offers workshops and photography instruction in beautiful locations around the country, including the Smokies.

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