The cove is a small valley surrounded by low mountains and ridges in the southern region of the Cumberland Plateau. The size and shape are the results of water erosion.
The first inhabitants were the ancestors of the Cherokee Indians. At some time in the unrecorded past, unorganized groups from the west moved into the forest covered land east of the Mississippi River. However, in 1540, DeSoto met some organized resistance from the natives in what was later Alabama.
For their efforts in helping defeat the British during the War for American Independence, the Cherokee, were allowed to establish their own nation in the Southern Region of the Appalachian Mountains. The capitol was Echota, Georgia. The Cove was a part of this new nation.
The Cherokees in Northeast Alabama lived on or near the Tennessee River. The river provided food, such as fish, turtles and mussels. The flood plains of the River were used for growing corn, squash and berries.
The nearby mountains, ridges, hollows and coves were places to hunt for deer and turkeys. The meat of the deer was usually jerked for eating during the colder months. As the land in The Cove was cleared for cultivation, the location of several of the temporary hunting camps was found. Archaeological digs in the floor of the Bat Cave (the Cove) have revealed the Cove was used as a temporary hunting camp many years before the white man arrived.
After the Revolutionary War, Georgia claimed the land in Alabama and Mississippi. In 1783, a group of men from North Carolina and east Tennessee proposed the establishment of the County of Houston in the Big Bend of the Tennessee River. A token payment was made to the Cherokee Indians for the land. The Cove would be included in the new county. The Georgia Legislature refused to recognize the representative from the new county.
In 1800 or before, five Wright brothers established a camp in the Cove. Their plan was to establish home places for their families to come later. After several months of trying to clear the selected farm land of large trees, briars and vines, four of the discouraged brothers decided to return to Kentucky to live. The unmarried brother decided to stay in the Cove and continue the work.
About two years later, relatives from Kentucky and their families arrived at the Cove. The Wright brother living in the Cove related how the friendly Cherokee hunters had helped him by providing food. After further exploration, the families from Kentucky decided to settle in a cove to the east of the Cove. Wright’s Cove is in present Marshall County, Alabama.
In 1806, the Cherokee Nation, gave back to the United States certain land in the Big Bend of the Tennessee River. When this land was organized in the Mississippi Territory, white settlers from the Atlantic Coast States moved to the rich farm land in present Lauderdale County, Limestone County and the part of Madison County west of the Flint River. The Cove remained a part of the Cherokee Nation.
In the fall of 1807, the Hans Kennamer Family moved from South Carolina to Madison County, Mississippi territory. This family settles along the Flint River near present Maysville. In 1815, most of this family moved to the Cove in the Cherokee Nation. This Cove later became Kennamer Cove.
In 1817, Mississippi became a state. At that time, the land in the Big Bend of the Tennessee River became a part of the Alabama Territory. Kennamer Cove, for the first time, became a part of the United States. Those living in The Cove became squatters in the public domain.
Alabama became a state in 1819. In 1820, the land in Alabama was surveyed using the Township-Range System. In 1830, the United States opened a public land office in Huntsville. At that time, the heads of the families in Kennamer Cove bought all of the land suitable for farming. The land sold in 40-acre tracts at $1.25 per acre.
After the Trail of Tears in 1838, the Cherokee Nation dissolved. At that time, Marshall County was organized. The southern part of Jackson County, including Kennamer Cove, was given to Marshall County. To replace the land area given to Marshall County, the Alabama Legislature gave Jackson County land on Sand Mountain that would have been included in De Kalb County.
The citizens in the United States became divided over the issue of slavery and state’s rights. The families living in Kennamer Cove were also divided over these issues. Many members of the Kennamer Family served in the Confederate Army. One Kennamer man organized his cousins into the Union Scouts and Guides. This company did duty away from the Cove assisting the Union Army guard the Memphis and Charleston Railroad.
Some heads of families refused to volunteer for service in either army. In order to avoid the recruiters from either side, these men had to hide out. Deep in the Cove was a safe place to hide out. The women and children during these times faced many hardships. On the occasions when the Scouts and Guides were home on leave, they were subject to an attack by Confederate Guerrillas led by Bushwhacker Johnson.
After the war, old animosities and the availability of new land west of the Mississippi River caused many of the families in the Cove to leave.
In August of each year since 1929, the descendants of those who “went west” return to attend the Kennamer Family Reunion and to visit historic Pisgah Cemetery.
Lewis Wendell Page, Sr.
Kennamer Family Association
The Kennamer Family, by John R. & L. G. Kennamer. 192 ed.
Kennamer Genealogies, by Willard Clifton Kennamer. 1954 ed.
The Kennemer Book, by Nelda and Woody Kelley. 1982 ed.
Alabama, A History of a Deep South State, by Atkins, Flynn, Rogers, & Word. 1989 ed.
The Advertiser Gleam, a newspaper, November 14, 1952.
History of Alabama, by Albert Benton Moore. 1934 ed.