A Tennessean Thanksgiving History

Thanksgiving wasn’t widely celebrated in Tennessee until the late-1800s.


Our lovely corner of Tennessee (in case you’re wondering, our corner is the upper East one) is full of transplants from all over the country. People move in for the beauty, the usually pleasant weather, the comfortable cost of living and the laid-back lifestyle. It’s a great place for families, too, with our country traditions.

But some of our most cherished traditions are transplanted here, just like many of our citizens. It might surprise you, but Thanksgiving was considered a Yankee holiday until pretty recently in our country’s history!

Even when the rest of the country—Michigan, New York, Ohio territories—were digging in to turkey dinners each fall in celebration of the early Massachusetts settlers, Tennessee didn’t join in. (Volunteers we might be, but Tennesseans have always marched to the beat of their own, mountain-made drum.) In fact, most of the South shunned Thanksgiving.


According to the website SeriousEats.com, an author by the name of Sara Josepha Hale launched a personal crusade in the 1800s to nationalize Thanksgiving as a holiday, to be set at one, unified date each November.

It’s difficult to imagine a country divided over a holiday like Thanksgiving, but in the mid-1800s, we were in a period of political, religious and cultural turmoil. Many Southerners considered Thanksgiving to be bound up in the push for Abolitionist views, and rebelled against the holiday. (Remember when we said Tennesseans march to our own beat? Many will be surprised to learn that a Quaker in Jonesborough, Tennessee published the first newspaper in the country devoted to the Abolitionist movement. It was called The Emancipator.)

Adding to the alienation most Southerners felt in regard to the holiday was the Thanksgiving feast itself, full of cranberries and pumpkin pie and generally fare that wasn’t typically seen on a Southern table.

Thanksgiving didn’t become universally accepted in America until after the Civil War. In fact, Abraham Lincoln himself tipped his hat (metaphorically) to the tenacious Sara Josepha Hale and ultimately declared Thanksgiving to be a national holiday. As a result of the political tumult surrounding the War Between the States, Thanksgiving was only patchily observed, at best, in the South. Eventually, though, the lure of turkey dinners and the sweet homecoming that Thanksgiving offers to many families won out.


The traditional Southern Thanksgiving meal still includes recipes original to New England, like cranberry sauce and even oyster stuffing. Many Southerners still rebel a bit, though, adding in cornbread and pimiento wherever they can. Few things can bring people together like good food, and remembering that even us mountain-southerners wouldn’t be here without the first Yankees surviving their harrowing first winter makes us enjoy that second piece of pie even more.

So the next time you think your family talks about politics too much around the Thanksgiving dinner table, remember this fine holiday was adopted nationally during the Civil War! Political arguments are as American as pumpkin pie.

Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com to find your perfect home for the holidays. And Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving, TN State Park Style!

Did you know? You can have Thanksgiving dinner at one of these eight TN state parks!

Nothing is better than enjoying a home-cooked Thanksgiving feast, with friends and family surrounding you. Traditional recipes and cries of “That’s the best turkey you’ve cooked, yet!” make the day perfect.

Nothing is better than cooking and eating the meal at home …


Unless you’re enjoying Thanksgiving dinner at one of these eight Tennessee State Parks. If you’re like most people, you had no idea that you could get a meal at a state park, let alone an epic feast! But you can! State Parks at these locations have a restaurant that is open and ready to serve a delicious, memorable Thanksgiving dinner experience:


  • Tip: Try the famous banana pudding.


  • Tip: Spend the Friday after Thanksgiving on a family-friendly, ranger-led hike.


  • Tip: Private dining is available for large groups. Be sure to call ahead for availability.


  • Tip: Check out the cranberry jello salad for a twist on the traditional favorite.


  • Tip: The Thanksgiving menu includes Southern favorites like fried okra and catfish.


  • Tip: Be sure to get an eyeful of the gorgeous lake view.


  • Tip: Enjoy the cinnamon apples.


  • Tip: Smoked chicken and beef brisket are served alongside the traditional turkey.

Lots of people, including those who aren’t the best turkey bakers or who just plain get fed up with the huge mess after cooking and eating, choose to go out for November’s traditional American meal. And, eating just steps away from our state’s gorgeous, natural resources—with an eye-popping view, too—reminds us of what we have to be thankful for! Go to the Tennessee State Parks website to view full menus and get contact information, so you can call to check on reservations. (Some of the parks are first come, first serve, while others take reservations. Be sure to check!)


If you’re in our neck of the woods, here in East Tennessee, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, at the doorstep to our lovely Great Smokies, are full of restaurants to enjoy a traditional meal this Thanksgiving holiday.

After Dinner, Get Out!

You can indulge in some frenzied Black Friday shopping; after all, Sevierville is famous for its outlet malls. But you can also join a growing movement, called #OptOut by outdoors retailer REI. They close their stores and encourage both employees and patrons to go outside and enjoy the beauty of nature in the fall with your family. Take a hike, play Frisbee, have a picnic if the weather is agreeable! Save your shopping for another (less crowded) day and soak in the fresh air, instead. Plus, the Opt Out movement is a great way to work off some of that turkey you stuffed yourself with the day before!

In the market for a home this holiday season? Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com to get started.

Halloween Traditions from the Old World to Appalachia

Where did modern-day Halloween traditions originate?

These beautiful hills of Appalachia were settled by folks from all over the world. In fact, Newman’s Ridge in Hancock County, Tennessee is famous as the homeplace of Melungeons, a group of people with mixed heritage, notably European, African and Native American.

But many of our cultural traditions, like carving Jack-O-Lanterns, came from the British Isles. In the old country, folks carved turnips to make lanterns this time of year. When migrants encountered pumpkins, it was decided they made much better spooky heads! And so, our modern form of celebrating Halloween by carving faces into pumpkins was born.


Halloween is also a time of change; the weather gets cold, and summer has officially faded away until next year. Folks like the Celts (a common source of ancestry for Appalachians) marked this time of year by bringing their livestock closer to home and settling in for the winter months. This was also the time of year to acknowledge and celebrate the spirits of those who had died. Samhain was the Celtic festival dedicated to these ancestral spirits. Our modern-day practice of dressing up in spooky costumes and visiting our neighbors, and of scaring the heck out of each other, has its roots in Samhain.

All Souls’ Day is also marked by an older version of Trick-or-Treating, when children went door-to-door begging for “soul cakes.” For each cake received, the children said a prayer for an ancestral soul. Today, over 85% of Americans give out sugary treats on Halloween! This holiday by far outweighs all the others for candy sales and consumption. (Yes, even Valentine’s Day!)

Bobbing for apples isn’t as popular at Halloween parties these days, but in Colonial America and in the old country, it was a way to predict who was getting married next in the village! It was like a wedding bouquet toss—only edible! The object of the game was simple: whoever bit an apple first would be the next to marry. Apples are a major harvest this time of year, and we still celebrate fall’s arrival with delicious apple cider, apple pie and candied apples.

Probably the most popular modern reason that families have for celebrating Halloween in East Tennessee is community enjoyment. Many neighborhoods go all out, decorating the yard, even cooking out on the grill with other community members while kids roam around Trick-or-Treating, dressed up in costumes and enjoying the festive atmosphere.


Not all the ghosts, goblins and spirits were left in the old world, though. Appalachian folklore is full of haints and boogers! A mixture of superstition, terrifying wild creatures (like mountain cats, called painters, that screamed like tortured women) and spooky, foggy surroundings make for the perfect backdrop for fireside ghost stories.

Appalachian Ghost Walks was a major resource for this blog on the great history behind how Appalachians (and most Americans!) celebrate Halloween. If you like history, and you’d like a spooky tour in our area, then go on one of their Ghost Walks.

Be safe this Halloween!

If, while you’re out trick-or-treating, you see a neighborhood you’d like to call home, visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com.


Happy Halloween!

If you’re looking for some family-friendly Halloween activities, we’ve got you covered!

Halloween is fast approaching! East Tennessee loves its ghosts and goblins. (We wrote here about some popular local haunts.)

Many neighborhoods still gear up for trick-or-treating, turning on those porch lights and decking out the house in spooky decorations. There are many other fun ways to celebrate this creepy time of year, too! If you’re looking for some family-friendly Halloween activities, we’ve got you covered! Read on to find out more.

Trunk or Treat

This spooky tradition is a fun, safe way to dress up and trick-or-treat … with cars! Locals dress themselves and their cars up in silly or spooky ways and hand out treats to little princesses, super heroes and any other kids who come out in costume! 2017’s event details for local Trunk or Treat events are as follows:

Morristown: 5 p.m., October 31, Trunk or Treat at the Farmer’s Market. (There’s also Trick or Treating downtown at the same time.)

Rogersville:  5 p.m. October 31, Trunk or Treat in the Historic District. Call 423-272-2186 for more information.

Jefferson City: Saturday, October 28, Trunk or Treat at the Fair Grounds. Call 423-312-1081 to find out more!


Boo at the Zoo!

This annual favorite at Zoo Knoxville is geared toward little ones, from infants through elementary age. This activity is a fun way to see some of your favorite animal friends while loading up on candy, donated by local businesses. Proceeds from the event go toward zoo programs like the Species Survival Program, helping endangered animals survive extinction. Expect to see some of your favorite book and movie characters throughout the zoo, and lots of smiling faces!

Boo at the Zoo: Three weekends in October, from 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Admission is $9 per person over 4 years old (free for kids under 4) and parking is free for this event.

Dates: October 12 – 15, 19 – 22, 26 – 29

Corn Mazes

Here’s a trade secret you probably didn’t know: maze creators use GPS equipment on their tractors to carve out mazes in the corn fields. I bet corn mazes look pretty amazing from the sky!

Kyker Farms

This corn maze, in Sevierville, is celebrating its 10th season. The maze will be open through October 29, so get out and get lost!

Echo Valley

In Jefferson City, this maze is great for groups and families. Admission is $15, but that covers a lot: even a free pumpkin for the kids! The maze stays open until November 4.

Oakes Farm

In Corryton, this family-friendly attraction is a whole lot more than just a corn maze. Check them out for pumpkins, food, games and tons of activities.


Weather this time of year can be pretty unpredictable; an 80-degree day can plunge quickly into a 40-degree night! So make sure you check the forecast and dress accordingly. Layers are always a good idea during the fall in East Tennessee. And be sure to use safety lights, like flash lights and glow sticks, and have a safety plan in place with your kids whether you’re out trick-or-treating or getting lost in the corn!


Looking for a (not haunted) house? Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com! Happy Halloween!


Merry Christmas 2016

The tradition of the Volunteer State still lives. The Smokies Strong movement proves it.

With Christmas just hours away, we thought it was time to reflect on the year and send our warm wishes. Traditionally, the year-in-review is more of a New Year’s thing, but guys, this one’s been a heck of a year.

2016 has been tumultuous, but it’s important to remember the good things along with the bad. It was a year of divisive politics, but also of the Olympics. Our own corner of this great country was ripped apart by devastating wildfires in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the small tourist town of Gatlinburg. Lives, homes, businesses and jobs were lost. It was the worst natural disaster in East Tennessee in generations.


But our community rose up to support the survivors, some of whom are without homes this Christmas. Organizations like The Red Cross helped to shelter and feed fire refugees, but that’s only one small part of the story: hundreds of individuals and small businesses across East Tennessee chipped in to provide water and Power Bars to firefighters. They rounded up and donated pajamas, food, toiletries and sundries to survivors.

The movement started small but, supported by our own Dolly Parton, it grew to hundreds of thousands of dollars in relief. It’s called Smokies Strong. You can still participate by buying t-shirts, and all the proceeds go to wildfire relief and rebuilding efforts.


We call Tennessee the Volunteer State, and most people think that means football. The nickname started in the War of 1812 or the Mexican-American War, depending on which historian you ask. Thousands of Tennesseans stepped up to defend the country. The tradition of Tennessee Volunteers shows the bravery and “get the job done” attitude of our state’s sons and daughters and today, the tradition of the Volunteer State still lives. The Smokies Strong movement proves it.

This time of year, we reflect on our bounty with gifts and generosity, the wonder in our children’s eyes and good food in our bellies. We also hope it’s a time of love, of peace, of goodwill toward men. Enjoy your families, rejoice in fellowship and eat one more piece of pie.


Merry Christmas, East Tennessee!


Christmas Shopping in Dandridge, Tennessee

It’s easy to see the friendly personality of the area with a trip into downtown, with its history on full display on the face of every store.

This small town is the only town in our great country named after Martha Dandridge Washington: the first First Lady! Thriving by dint of its location on the French Broad River (now Douglas Lake) and the busy stage road, this small settlement grew into a bustling town, full of hospitality. It’s easy to see the friendly personality of the area with a trip into downtown, with its history on full display on the face of every store. This is a town full of surprises: fun shops, delicious restaurants, and lovely mountain and lake vistas. It’s worth a trip for sightseeing, and while you’re here, we have a few shopping suggestions! Read on:

Maxwell House

139 E. Main Street, Dandridge, TN 37725

As the website describes, this shop with the cheery yellow exterior is actually a collection of gift shops located inside. Clothing, home décor, food and holiday cheer are all available in one place, in this historic building!

Call 865-397-0101 or visit shopdandridge.com to find out more.

The Shoppes at Roper Mansion

218 W. Main Street, Dandridge, TN 37725

For a more upscale shopping experience, visit the restored Federal style Roper Mansion. Here, you’ll find antiques, jewelry, gourmet food and even a gallery of original oil paintings from the 19th to 21st centuries. This is one house worth visiting for a sense of historic Dandridge. Even the restored kitchen is part of the store!

Call 865) 484-1237 or visit ropermansion.com for more information.


Steamer Trunk

106 W. Meeting Street, Dandridge, TN 37725

An eclectic shop full of girlfriend gifts: wine accessories and trinkets to make you laugh. This is a fun stop for Secret Santa gifts or stocking stuffers.

Call (865) 397-7500 for more information.

Tinsley-Bible Drug Co.

1224 Gay Street Dandridge, TN 37725

This is a local landmark, founded in 1911. With an old-fashioned drug store fountain , complete with ice cream and the famous Bible burger, you can enjoy a break in the shopping day. There are seasonal items and treats for sale, too. Pick up your souvenir Dandridge hats and shirts on the way out!

Call 865-397-3444 or visit tinsleybibledrugs.com to find out more.

Rachel’s Attic

149 E Main Street, Dandridge, TN 37725

This store is more than a quick in-and-out; it’s a more eclectic experience for antiques and collectibles. This might be the place to find a gift for that person who just has everything … or for yourself!

Call (865) 484-0222 to find out more.

 Bucks ‘N’ Bass

664 E Meeting Street, Dandridge, TN 37725

It’s no secret that Dandridge is a lake town. And no lake town would be complete without a great fishing outfitter. For the fishermen and women in your life, check out this store. They have all the practical necessities for fishing (like live bait!) but they also have a selection of hats, shirts and other accessories.

Call (865) 397-6455 or visit bucksnbass.net for more information.


Just a little over a half an hour to Knoxville and just under a half hour to Sevierville, Dandridge is just enough out-of-the-way to feel like a vacation when you come to town. The people who live here are very proud of their heritage. We hope you enjoy your visit.


As always, if you’re interested in learning more about living in Dandridge, visit Darlenereeves-kline.com.

Christmas Shopping in Jefferson City, Tennessee

Second-hand and thrift stores, small boutiques and well-known chain stores offer a full day of shopping pleasure here.

This week we’re continuing our small-town Christmas shopping blog theme with Jefferson City, Tennessee. The Mossy Creek District is undergoing a renaissance, as we’ve written about here, and it’s worth a browse. Plus, there are many small boutique stores worth checking out around town.

There are also a couple of big box stores like Goody’s and Big Lots in Jefferson City (not to mention WalMart and Lowe’s…) but we’ll keep this week’s discussion focused on the more unique locations.


Tractor Supply

Wood-burning stoves, truck and equipment parts and accessories, farm needs and…fashion? You’d be surprised how many gifts you can get at Tractor Supply for those who just seem to have everything they want and need. This store is only a hop and skip away from the Mossy Creek district, and although it’s a chain retailer, it’s full of the stuff of our rural Appalachian culture, from rugged gear all the way to hot pink cowgirl boots.

Mossy Creek Wines and Spirits

A bottle of cheer is always a good choice for a host or hostess gift. Mossy Creek Wines and Spirits has high gravity beers, fine wines and spirits for the discerning palate on your Christmas list! The staff is helpful and the selection is good. Visit mossycreekwinesandspirits.com for store information.

The Creek Café

Rest your tired feet and delight your empty stomach with lunch and treats from The Creek Café. Salads, sandwiches and gourmet local ice cream will revive you in your quest for exceptional Christmas gifts! Visit thecreekcafe.com for more information.

The Red Door Gallery

Located at 1417 George Avenue, this gallery features work by local artists and custom framing. If you’re looking for a deeply personal, heirloom-quality gift, this is a great place to look. Visit reddoorgallerytn.com for more information.


Tickle Me Turquoise

Monograms and vibrant colors adorn the sweet keepsakes out of this shop. Located at 274 W Old Andrew Johnson Hwy, they also have an Etsy shop here.

Formal Approach

Most people consider Formal Approach a go-to prom or homecoming dress store, but it’s also a high-fashion gown paradise if you need something for an upcoming swanky Christmas or New Year’s party. They’ll help you with dress fittings and alterations, and if they don’t have exactly what you need on site they can help you order it. Visit formalapproach.com for more information.


If you’re on the lookout for home decor, check out Rowena’s. They also have an upscale array of ladies’ brands such as Lilly Pulitzer and Kate Spade. Visit their Facebook page here.

The Rusty Door

As the name suggests, this store is full of rustic and farmhouse-themed stuff! Visit their Facebook page, here,  for a more detailed look at what they offer.

There are many more fun and unique places to choose from in Jefferson City! I just don’t have room to list them all. Second-hand and thrift stores, small boutiques and well-known chain stores offer a full day of shopping pleasure here. It’s one of the best ways to get to know your new area if you just recently became an East Tennessean. Shopping close to home is also a great way to keep your local economy robust, bringing in more unique and creative businesses and keeping tax dollars in your community, where it will do the most good for you and your neighbors!

Merry Christmas shopping! And, as always, if you want to learn more about finding a new home in Jefferson City or any other East Tennessean location, visit Darlenereeves-kline.com.