The section of Sevier County lying north of the French Broad River was perhaps the site of the first settlements in what is today Sevier County. Among the pioneers living here in 1783 was Major Hugh Henry who had settled near the mouth of Dumplin Creek.
Representing the State of Franklin, Governor John Sevier and others met 31 May 1785 with the leaders of the Cherokee at Major Henry’s home. This three day conference resulted in the signing of the Treaty of Dumplin in which the Cherokee ceded their right to the land south of the French Broad River, thus opening the area for settlement.
Finding the French Broad River a mighty barrier, settlers living north of the river had more in common with neighboring Jefferson County than with their own county of Sevier. Their legal affairs were often settled in Jefferson County. Petitions in 1799, 1823 and 1826 signed by inhabitants living north of the French Broad River asked the Tennessee Legislature to allow the area to be part of Jefferson County. In these petitions the citizens pointed out the difficulty they had in traveling to Sevierville, the county seat of Sevier County.
The earliest cemeteries found in this area are the Hugh Henry Family Cemetery, The Underwood Family, The Saffell (originally a Bryan family cemetery) and Old Paw Paw Hollow. Of these, the Hugh Henry Family Cemetery is probably the only one that dates before 1800. Yet, at least 75 men and their families were living here in 1799, as evidenced by the above mentioned petition. Where did these earliest settlers bury their dead?
Do they, like the Indians they replaced, lie forgotten in unmarked graves scattered about the area? Do they lie in small family graveyards that were destroyed long before modern memory?
Observing the neglected condition of many of our oldest cemeteries, we realize it is only a matter of time before “progress” claims some of these cemeteries also. It is our hope that the transcriptions and recollections recorded here will help preserve the memories of our earliest settlers and their descendants.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: The cemeteries of this section were visited and recorded by Cherel Bolin Henderson. These cemeteries could not have been located and researched without help from several individuals. Burl Underwood, Stella Underwood, Earl Hickman and Aurelia Cate Dawson were very generous in sharing their information about the early families and their burying places. Virgil Clifton, Stanley Moore, Toy V. Cate, and Arthur Petty guided the way to remote cemeteries. After several of the lists to the cemeteries and checked them, stones by stone, thus assuring a more confident use of these records. Others contributing to this section were Aaron and Jeanie Long, and Kristi Henderson.