Cades Cove History: Wallet of Long Time Resident Elijah Oliver Donated to the Collections Preservation Center

Cades Cove History: Wallet of Long Time Resident Elijah Oliver Donated to the Collections Preservation Center

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The Collections Preservation Center at Great Smoky Mountains National Park recently received an amazing donation! The great-great-granddaughter of long time Cades Cove resident Elijah Oliver had in her possession Oliver’s wallet. Elijah Oliver had used this wallet for many years! What made it even more special was that important papers had been tucked inside. Do you want to learn more about the recent donation filled with Cades Cove history? Here is more information on the wallet of long time Cades Cove resident Elijah Oliver:

Who was Elijah Oliver?

elijah oliver cabinBorn in the 1820s, Elijah Oliver was the son of the first European settler John Oliver. Elijah grew up in Cades Cove and had a big impact on Cades Cove history. He went on to build his cabin (Elijah Oliver Cabin) in 1865 which still stands today. The cabin is in a remote part of Cades Cove and includes a unique guest room called “The Stranger Room.” Oliver was also the deacon and clerk of the Primitive Baptist Church in Cades Cove and served in the positions for many years. Like most of the residents of the area, Elijah supported the Union. 

What Does the Wallet Look Like? 

Elijah Oliver’s wallet was actually quite large for the wallets of the time period. It is made of leather and appeared to be more of a pocketbook than a traditional wallet. For its age, the wallet is in great condition and even has the leather strap intact. The wallet itself and the documents that were found inside provide more information on Cades Cove history. The wallet was photographed, documented, and then added to the collection at the climate controlled Great Smoky Mountains National Park Collections Preservation Center.  

What Documents Were Inside the Wallet?

old document in archive cabinetElijah Oliver’s wallet was crammed with folded-up papers! The papers which hold Cades Cove history had to be carefully unfolded by a professional archivist at the Collections Preservation Center. Special brushes were used to clean the papers that dated from 1840 to 1910. One of the documents inside the wallet dates to the 1860s and was issued by the State of Tennessee. It verified that Oliver was not involved with the Confederacy. At that time, there was a Tennessee law for men over 21 to carry official documentation like the document found in Elijah’s wallet in order to vote. Another document found in his wallet was an official pass dating to 1863. This pass was issued by the Union Military Authority and proved the person was not a Confederate spy or deserter. The document had to be shown when traveling on the road. It is great that the wallet and the documents inside will now be preserved for future generations to learn about Cades Cove history! 

The donation of Elijah Oliver’s wallet is fantastic for the further understanding of Cades Cove history. Are you interested in learning more about Cades Cove history and the people who once lived there? Check out our Cades Cove ultimate recommended reading guide to learn about first hand accounts of Cades Cove residents.