John LeQuire from France to Cades Cove

Lequire family from cades cove

Milton & Ruby LeQuire, 1920

 Excerpt from Recipes, Remedies & Rumors, a set of cookbooks published by the Cades Cove Preservation Association:

John LeQuire born in France about 1758-1760 came to Tyron County N.C. (now Rutherford County) and fought in Revolutionary War. One of his grandsons Joseph LeQuire & wife Martha Womack and 2 brothers & 1 sister came to Cades Cove during the Civil War. Their son “Grayson” was my grandfather, they are buried at Cades Cove Methodist Church. “Grayson” married Dan Lawson’s daughter “Martha”. Their son “Milton LeQuire” married “Ruby Thompson”, they are my parents.

Gene LeQuire

Some of the “Good old days” were not so hot! As the following portions of letters will show.

(Muddy Rich Mt. Road)                     Cades Cove Tenn.
Jan 25 1926

Dear Daddy & Mama

How’s every body. Hope this will find you both better. We made it in alright. Never saw so much mud tho. Almost stuck several times. Nearly 11 oclock when we left Maryville & was 2 oclock when we got here. Been pretty cold up here. The ground is white with snow now that fell last night. Theres lots of pneumonia up here. “Ma” LeQuire isn’t able to be out, look awfully bad.

I fixed our room up Saturday afternoon, put the linoleum rug down. I had to use hay in the straw tic’s but they are pretty comfortable. It’s a good thing I came on with Milton because the roads are getting worse all the time and be past traveling if it keeps up.

It would sure be a hard trip across the mt. on horse back but I sure did hate to leave you all sick, I hope none of us take pneumonia, its sure hard to get a Doctor up here,

Love Ruby


(Daddy walked & led milk cow from Maryville to Cades Cove)

Mar. 21, 1927
Cades Cove Tenn

To Mrs. Lizzie Thompson
Rt 5 Box 139, Whites Mill Rd.
Maryville Tenn.

Dear Daddy & Mama,

Hope this will find you both feeling good, were all very well, snowed some here last night & cold and Smoky’s white. I haven’t got any garden made, not even a lettuce patch.

Milton sure was tired when he got home that night. Luther met him with the mule nearly half way. Were liking the cow fine. She doesn’t give a whole lot of milk, but it’s awfully rich. We get enuf to have plenty to drink, all the cream & butter we can use and a little for the pigs!

I’m getting lots of eggs, 25 some days, & just have about 30 hens.

There’s a lot of excitement up here over the Smoky Mt. Park. N.C. has already passed on it and raised $2,000 000 for their part, also it was in the law that if people wouldn’t sell them the land, they would condemn it, so they would get it any way if Tenn. makes the same rules we may have to sell out and leave here. Hope sometimes they won’t get the park for if they didn’t take the land, they would tax us to death! Looks bad either way. The roads are awful & can’t even get to church.

So lonesome to see you all & can’t hardly stand it, Love to all,

Ruby & family


(Canned garden vegetables, potatoes & baby chickens frees)

Cades Cove Tenn
Jan 4, 1928

To Mrs. Lizzie Thomspon
Rt 5 Box 139 Whites Mill Rd
Maryville Tenn

Dear Daddy & Mama, will write you a little while I write. It sure has been cold up here since Sat. It was 4 below zero Monday & was colder Sunday. I’ve hardlyy been out. Can’t get anything done only cook & hover over the fire. A light snow fell sat. & Sunday night & The coldest wind I ever felt blew for 3 days. Milton did all the outside work a little at a time and back to the fire froze.

Our potatoes & fruit froze. Been as bad as when  “Dad” died. (Grayson Lequire 1867, 1925)

I guess we’ll kill the other hog before long. It killed a chicken last week and we had to put him in a close pen. are you getting any eggs? I’m not getting many & they’re all frozen, and my little chickens are all freezing to death.

Well, its about mail time so I’d better stop, write us soon,

Love to both of you from us, Love Ruby


Sunday Aug. 12 1928

From Lizzie Thompson To
Mrs. Milton LeQuire
Cades Cove Tenn.

Dear Children

I hope you are getting along alright, we are as well as common. Ruby, we want to see you and the “boys” bad, but don’t try to come till you are well and strong enough to cross that mountain. Tell arnel (Arnold) to help take care of “Mama” and that new baby brother (Gene) and I hope to see you all soon

Love to all, Mother


(I was born Sunday August 5, 1928 delivered by Polly Harmon Midwife Granny Woman)

Gene Lequire


I hope you enjoyed the peek into the letters of Ruby Thompson LeQuire. I’m so thankful her son Gene shared them. Several things caught my eye:

  • Ruby’s description of mud. I can totally relate, this time of the year I live in a sea of mud. We slip and slide up and down the driveways until we reach the blacktop.
  • Milton’s walk to get the cow. Thinking of that trip pulls on my heart strings.
  • You can’t miss the unease of the rumors swirling around the possibility of a park taking over their homes.
  • In the last letter Ruby’s mother uses the phrase I said Pap used sometimes as well as common.

Check out this link for information on purchasing Recipes, Remedies & Rumors Volume I &II Cades Cove Preservation Association .



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  • Reply
    Mary Gibby Berrong
    February 21, 2022 at 6:54 pm

    It’s a small world! Joseph Lequire was a brother to my Great Great Grandfather William Nathaniel Lequire. His daughter Sarah Elizabeth married my Great Grandfather George Washington Gibby! My Grandfather John Gibby moved from Swain County to Hayesville NC around 1931.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    March 3, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    The way I’ve always heard it pronounced (and therefore the way I say it) is LOO-kwire (using upper case to indicate emphasis).

    • Reply
      gary lequire
      October 1, 2020 at 10:05 am


  • Reply
    David Templeton
    March 2, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Thank you for this very interesting post, Tipper. We now live between Maryville and Cades Cove and, in fact, we live down a lane just off White’s Mill Road, near where Lizzie Thompson lived in the 1920s.
    Thank you for the letter re-prints and the links.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    March 2, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    How is “LeQuire” pronounced?
    “Luh-Kwire” ?,
    Does Don know?

    • Reply
      Jennifer LeQuire
      October 17, 2019 at 6:10 pm

      My family has always pronounced it as ” La-choir” would sound. If you ask someone who speaks French as their first language, they pronounce every letter–as in, the last letter “e” is not silent but has a long a sound.

    • Reply
      gary lequire
      December 9, 2019 at 12:06 pm

      lechoir….like church chior…..lechoir….i found this out from someone in france,glad to help gary lequire..

  • Reply
    February 25, 2016 at 5:47 am

    Enjoyed the letters, kinda sets you in your mind the time in which they were living. My Dad use to say when he was growing up the old house they lived in, if it snowed they would wake up with it on their bed covers sometimes, and in the summer they could see the chickens under the house from inside.. Does kinda tug at you to think of what a hard time these folks went thru to just make one day, and then what little they had to be taken away by the Government.. Don’t get me started.. Are we Blessed or What..

  • Reply
    Pam Danner
    February 24, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    Beautiful!!! Thank you for posting these sweet little bits of the past.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    February 24, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    Enjoyed this post very much…
    Yes, I remember Don’s post about the iris…and others about yellow bells, jonquils, boxwoods etc. of old home places…
    I remember hearing my Grandparents discussing the folks land being taken in Cades Cove…at least many of them got to relocate closer to their homes…Imagine what the sadness of the Trail of Tears were for the native Cherokee…!!
    Yes, Cindy things are better today….but in years to come someone will look back and write about todays hard times…even if it is much better..
    Health, at my age an ongoing concern with all the new flu, viruses etc. that pop up all over the world.
    Freezing weather…Crazy El Nino changing winter to summer and vice versa!
    Taxes…Always due and constantly charging more for this, that and the other…
    Government….The politicians that are in a phase of political nonsense that seem to be separating our country…
    Seeing family again….No one knows if dropping by church, a restaurant or theater mall might deliver one to their heavenly home….so always hug and kiss and say your “love you” before traveling anywhere!
    Yes, the more things change, the more they remain the same….until Kingdom Comes!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 24, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    I grew up around people named LeQuire. 144 of them are in my family tree. I was wondering how people with the name pronounced it. We pronounced it like Lew-guar or luke-wire. Is one or neither one right? My DeHart family line was also supposed to have come from France. We pronounce it like Dee-heart. They too were Huguenots displaced by persecution from the Catholic Church. They immigrated to what is now Brooklyn, NY before my branch moved south into the same general area of North Carolina where John LeQuire settled. They too moved across the mountains into Tennessee and Kentucky before returning to Macon County, North Carolina in the 1830’s.

  • Reply
    February 24, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    How I love reading all these posts. Whenever we visited Cades Cove I just wanted to stay there. The mention of jonquils, iris and dogwood makes me homesick. Thanks to all you good folk for sharing with the Blind Pig.

  • Reply
    February 24, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    I just want to mention that the LeQuire name jumped out at me from a previous post. I have been learning about Huguenot heritage of late, and wondered if that may be in the family’s background? At any rate, “From France to Cade’s Cove” is a catchy title, since there were so few French in the area.

    • Reply
      gary lequire
      December 9, 2019 at 12:12 pm

      john lequire came here as a boy from muse-lorraine ecape the revolution there and as a young man found himself in one here.thats whats thats about.he was my great grandfather times five.most of my people are buried in cades cove.i live in bryson cith.the first lequire was john the one im talking about came from rutherford county nc.

      • Reply
        Rick Shepherd
        March 3, 2020 at 10:52 am

        It’s hard to imagine the mind set and resilience of people in that era and the pioneers before them…..Maybe they were somewhat like me only hardier….Mary and I moved to the more isolated Georgia Mountains to retire away from big cities….We love it here but we still have the convenience of modern life without the clamor….Thank your for sharing such great accounts of days gone by!

      • Reply
        May 6, 2021 at 1:50 pm

        Hi Gary. My great grand father was a Lequire from Cades Cove. His name was Alvin. I do not see any account of him here. I think he must have been born around 1900. My grand mother, Dorthy Lequire, was born 1925. Do you have any idea who his father was?

  • Reply
    February 24, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    What wonderful insights of Cades Cove’s past- a most beautiful area and a true community. It is always such a blessing when families preserve photos, recipes, and most particularly, letters. Add to that stories from living family members and Don Casada’s research and interest- then Tipper and The Blind Pig as the vehicle to share with us all!
    Our power was out for a while up on the Cumberland Plateau, so thanks to Miss Cindy for bringing some perspective.

  • Reply
    February 24, 2016 at 11:34 am

    “Well, its about mail time so I’d better stop, write us soon, “- – such a familiar phrase. I heard it so many, many times as Mom read aloud some relative’s letter to us. Also heard it whenever Mom was closing a letter she was writing. She just always said that as she wrote it; then folded the letter and licked the envelope. If I was really nearby, I got to lick the stamp – or if the stamp had lost it’s stickiness (high humidity could be the undoing of a stamp) I would be sent to look for a piece of egg shell with it’s little sticky compartment that we sometimes used as glue.

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    February 24, 2016 at 11:10 am

    Good post–another fascinating glimpse into yesteryear’s life in the southern mountains.
    The 1920’s Virginia and N. Carolina laws, which enabled land acquisition by eminent domain to form the Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah National Parks, were highly controversial and unprecedented. The parks movement in the ’20s included shameful so-called “sociological studies” that were little more than scurrilous propaganda intended to show that evicting the mountain people would be for their own good because they were so backward and degenerate. When dedicated in the 1930’s, these were the only national parks created by displacing lawful owners of the land. Yes, they were compensated for their property, but the payments were not generous. Most victims had no desire to yield their way of life and move to the government-created relocation settlements, where they could buy a small house on some acres.
    Long ago I knew a number of people who had lost their homes and land when pushed out of the Virginia Blue Ridge. The bitterness is still there, now after several generations. Despite the harsh winters and muddy roads, I doubt that Milton and Ruby would have felt benefitted by eviction from their Cades Cove home.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 24, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Tip, I got up to a power outage this morning and it just now ( around 11) came back on. I thought that was inconvenient, but not so. Walking a cow over the mountain is inconvenient, chickens freezing in low temperature is inconvenient! They sure lived a hard life and no power at all or inside pluming and water….that’s inconvenient.
    I guess the thing that jumps out to me most is these letters is the things they are concerned about…health, freezing weather, taxes, government, and seeing their family again.
    Makes most of my concerns piddlin’ in comparison!

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    February 24, 2016 at 8:22 am

    Tipper (and long-term readers of her blog), you may remember a number of years back – I think 2010 – when I wrote a little piece on finding an iris blooming on Noland Creek and used it as a launching pad to discuss lingering evidence of the love and care at old home places in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
    This was about a year before I embarked, along with Wendy Meyers, on a project to locate and characterize old home places and to do what research we could into the folks who once called the places home. Well, it turns out that although at the time I conjured up pictures in my own mind about the woman who would’ve set out those iris, it turns out the flower lover was a man, and his name was John LeQuire (this comes from his granddaughter), and he was born in Cades Cove.
    There is a photo of him and some family links here:
    This John Lequire was the first cousin of Grayson, Gene LeQuire’s grandfather.
    There was considerable Cades Cove connection along the north shore of Fontana (although it was more concentrated toward the Eagle and Hazel Creek areas – which are right across the mountain from Cades Cove). Familial names like Proctor, Cable, and Rose are examples.
    LeQuire descendants are scattered throughout western NC and east TN, including Swain County. I went to school with one of the LeQuires, Roger (who last I heard, was living in Raleigh).
    Fred, a grandson of John, the lover of iris and double jonquils, lives out on Alarka. Fred grew up on Noland Creek, less than a quarter mile up the road from his grandfather, and recalls cutting dogwood on Noland Creek to sell for making spools.
    In fact, at the time of the taking of the property by TVA, at least five of John’s children lived within a quarter mile of the home place of John and his iris.

    • Reply
      gary lequire
      March 6, 2020 at 10:29 am

      There my cousins,gene and i were cousins i live in bryson city,all my grandparents are buried in cade’s cove except my dad and grandpaw but he was born in the cove buried in lauada cemetary grew up in noland creek.

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