The Couches Creek Home of Thomas and Bertha Childers
Couches Creek flows east out of a deep mountain valley to join the Oconaluftee River near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Visitor Center at Smokemont, on highway 441, in Swain County, NC. (This is a few miles north of Cherokee, NC.) Couches Creek is the next small creek just north of the Mingus Mill Museum site.
Before becoming part of the national park, the cove of Couches Creek was home to several families in the years around 1900, including that of Thomas Clingman Childers, Jr, and Bertha Lambert Childers. They were in the area by the time of the 1900 census. In 1920 they were counted in Haywood County, but did not sign the deed to sell the land for the GSM National Park until 1929.
For a sample of affectionate memories of their old home place, see interviews with Francis David Childers and Roy Arthur Childers, at links below. (There are both transcripts and audio files.)
We have found no photos of the houses the family occupied on Couches Creek. However, one document related to the purchase of the land for the GSMNP refers to "two three-room box houses" on the Childers tract. The term "box" indicates a construction technique in which exterior walls are formed by two layers of planks nailed together - one horizontal and one vertical - without any stud work between the layers. As this method of construction used the least possible amount of lumber, it was thus much favored by people of very limited means after the advent of sawmills made planks available, and it probably represented an advance from the effort required to build a log cabin. For a discussion of the homes, see Francis Childers's interview topic "Moving Around to Make A Living".
A Video about Couches Creek: "Couches Creek Memories" (based on the Roy Childers Interview, with additional material) (Two Viewing Options):